Today it felt like a day for a music post. Even though I don’t like to divide humanity in any way, gender included, here come ten singers who happen to be women.
I was a deejay for two hours of my life. My deejay friend had something else to do and let me roll for a while in off peak hours in a club where he was working. I didn’t plan it out and went with a flow. Soon I realised that I kept choosing almost only female performers.
It came as a surprise because I’m all in favour of mixing everything, ingredients, genders, nationalities, countries, breeds, genres, colours. It gets stronger this way, whatever “it” is.
But I guess it’s like blogs, books and films: I tend to love strong females behind the wheel. In the last film post I did on my previous blog I was surprised to realise that 4 out of my 5 favourite films seen in the last 9 months had been directed by women (and the fifth by Ben Stiller). I don’t choose a film for this reason. When I watch it, I don’t know or care if it’s a woman directing. And yet, they come out victorious.
I won’t be naming any of my favourite bloggers – you all got a door last year in my four Thursday Doors-gifting posts (as a reminder, here they are: first, second, third, fourth). It speaks for itself that three of those posts were for women and one for men.
And now to music: let’s just chill and listen to ten women who are always a joy to my ears. The photo accompaniment is from the Lovely Days festival in Austria where I heard one of these women live (and one other was due but had to cancel). Did you recognise her in the featured photo?
Janis, Joan, Melanie, Michelle, Suzanne, Malika, Jelena, Severa, Angelina, Tash – take it away.
Janis: Maybe. It can be only one. I wrote already about my love for her and Me and Bobby McGee, but here is a not so well-known song. I have deep visceral knowledge that I lived then and there once already. She died when I was five months old. See the documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue for more amazing footage and story. Maybe it could have ended completely differently.
Joan Baez: Sweeter for Me. Another of my very favourites, Joan Baez. She’s got staying power. She’s got good sense. She’s got the wits. She’s got the voice, even though by now it has changed and she is on her farewell tour. I caught her twice in Ljubljana, my city. I did a post with three of her favourite songs yet, but here is one that I was humming this morning, which may have brought about this entire post. When I found it and played it right now, it felt like someone reached inside me through my mouth and pulled out all my and world’s history. So there.
Melanie: I Really Loved Harold. The third lady – and all three played at Woodstock, incidentally or not – is Melanie who I never noticed among the 60’s singers until my friend put her record on and I heard her voice. She is still active and did her most famous song Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma in a surprise duet a few years ago. My mom loves it. Here is one of the songs that I heard first. To all the Harolds we really loved.
Michelle Shocked: Anchorage (and the entire Short Sharp Shocked album from 1988. I bought it on cassette in Venice, Italy. It was happily orange and I know it by heart). She burst on the scene and then disappeared from it on account of some unthought-through statements. I’ve been taking this one with me until I anchor. This may be it. Caught her live in Vienna with sis. ❤ Leroy says hello. (Please click on Watch on Vimeo and listen to the song there.)
Suzanne Vega: Marlene on the Wall. She must have arrived at the same time as Michelle. That’s her in the featured photo. I enjoyed her show but wondered why she had agreed to play at such an “old farts” festival. Her Luka living on the second floor is memorable and yet few know it’s about child abuse. My go-to song in many ways has always been Tom’s Diner, the a cappella version. But here is her Marlene for its killer beat. (Italians would chuckle. Recently hilarious comments on an Italian song about another Marlena broke the internet.)
Malika Ayane: E se poi. (“What if”.) Am I in Italy or am I not? So far she has been my favourite Italian current singer. I remember seeing her video for this song by chance when I arrived in Italy, only remembering the wedding dress, and later googling “Italian blonde singer wedding dress” in Italian to find her again. And I did. But this is her live:
Lady Jelena: Nikola. I don’t know much about this lady, except that she is Serbian and obviously wicked. We used to be in the same country after all, and I must be about 1/4 Serbian. This song is incredibly catchy and subdued and I loved it at first hearing. As for its lyrics… Hm. Better see for yourself. Let’s just say that Nikola (male name in Serbia) is about to suffer.
Olivija: Ledena. (“Icy.”) Part Serbian, the rest I’m Slovenian. This was a Slovenian group with Severa Gjurin at the vocals and her brother in charge. She is now singing solo. When I heard this song on the radio, I had to google the lyrics to discover the singer. Love at first note. I translated it into English on one of my previous blogs. “Me, the slave of reason, you, the slave of bodies.”
Angelina Jordan: Something’s Got a Hold on Me. This is a Norwegian singer who is only 13 but obviously has great great things in store. She won Norway’s Got Talent five years ago by her way of singing jazz, rhythm and blues and Amy Winehouse like it’s nothing at all, like you don’t have to be troubled to sing it but merely a happy child with an old soul. Let’s wish her it lasts.
Tash Sultana: Jungle. My most recent dropdown, knockdown, wide-eyed, what-the-hell-I’ve-just-heard effect came by way of this woman. I understand she got famous by uploading her performance of Jungle from her living room on YouTube and the rest is history. Here is her Tiny Desk Concert. If you’re not familiar with this series of short shows out of what appears to be an office, highly recommended. It took me to the last song (at 18.18) to stop doing what I was doing and just stare. And then I restarted.
Because this is how I roll.