And I’m your newest contributor to Women in Rock.
I was born during a fierce Cleveland blizzard, but I came out of my mother’s body silent as church, and staring. Found my way out like I was supposed to, easily, headfirst, right into the cold. No problem. I was just over six pounds, exactly the length of a Kleenex box. The doctor expected me to cry; I waited him out. Or perhaps I was just listening, waiting to hear what life was all about, already attuned to the music of the world.
I’ve been listening all my life. I grew up during the ‘80s and ‘90s. My first 45 record was Sheena Easton’s “Strut,” and I like to think that even as a girl, I had identified the themes that would preoccupy me as a woman: feminist critique. the power of personal storytelling. the poetry of a damn good song that makes you curse when you hear it because it’s just that fucking good.
I am an avid consumer of music, not a creator (although I do play violin and would like to learn how to fiddle like Rhiannon Giddens). I am also a writer, a professor of American literature and gender studies, and a major animal lover. I love dogs and cats, plus all the rest. Evidence: my music collection is full of songs about animals, and I’ve made at least three animal-themed playlists.
When it comes to writing and music, I find myself drawn most obsessively to the weird, the wild, the beautifully experimental. Good lyrics slay me to pieces, especially if they have an intellectual or nerdy bent. (If you make me look up a word, I fall in love with you.) I like women with unique voices, and women who play unique instruments, like, say, the harpsichord. Basically, put Tori Amos and Joanna Newsom into a room with Valerie June and Marissa Paternoster, add some poetry and animals, and you have a pretty good idea of my heaven.
As a professor, I study and teach women’s autobiography. It’s so interesting to think about how women understand and narrate their lives. I come to music with that same desire: to listen to women’s experiences; to hear the voice, the language, the sound a woman creates to describe the world. This is also the reason I write: to make sense of the world, to authorize my experience of it. (Plus, it’s fun!)
Amplifying and valorizing women in rock is important because women are so often silenced and devalued in our culture. What I’d like to do in this space is to highlight the women in rock whose songs have slain me, women who are as fierce as a Cleveland blizzard or as quietly bold as a cat padding through the snow. Women rockers are bold, and tender, and strange, and funny, and angry, and loving, and inspiring, and everything else, and I’ve always been eager to listen.
If you have ideas or inspiration, feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading! 🙂