chained up melody

This song “Barricade” by Stars is really resonating w/ me right now.

Trapped on the terraces
I looked at you and knew
You were the only thing that mattered
There was no one for me but you.
In Harmony Street we’d beat a man
Just for standing there.
I held my breath as I watched you swing
Then run your fingers through your hair.
Oh how could anyone not love
The terrible things you do?
Oh how could anyone not want
To try and help you?
In Bermondsey in Burberry,
You held me at the barricade
The pigs arrived with tear gas
And I wept at the mistakes we made.
We stalked the streets like animals
And danced as windows shattered,
For our island, for the thrill of it,
For everything that mattered.
Oh how could anyone not want
To rip it all apart?
Oh how could anyone not love
Your cold black heart?
I found you on a Saturday,
And that was where I lost you.
You had to finally walk away
Because of what it cost you.
Years later on I saw your face
In line to catch the morning train.
It looked like you’d been suffering,
Like you’d never really loved the pain.
Oh how could anyone not finally diminish
The thrill of blood comes instantly,
There’s only darkness at the finish.
Meet me at the barricade,
I’ll be at the barricade.
Meet me at the barricade,
The loved died,
But the hate can’t fade.
I’ll be at the barricade.
The love died,
But the hate can’t fade.

I often go through phases with songs.  It’s easy to see which ones; all I have to do is look at the play counts on my iTunes.  “Me and Mia,” by the Pharmacists & Ted Leo; “Naïve” by the Kooks; “Fatalist Palmistry” by Alopecia; “Beggar’s Prayer” by Emilíana Torrini.  I’ll listen to them over and over again, not wanting to hear anything else.

Looking at my ranked list of favorite songs, I notice something: most of them are done by male artists.

Now, I am not trying to say there is a paucity of good female artists, although I’m sure we could always use more.  But I notice that I use music by men and music by women quite differently.  Predictably, I tend to channel my thoughts and feelings into songs by women.  I can tell the world to f*** off with “I’m good, I’m gone,” by Lykke Li, and Lisa Hannigan’s slow crescendo in “Teeth” helps me prepare for battle.  I like to strut haughtily to Fergie’s infectious “Labels or Love” and dance wildly to “Wherever, Whenever” by Shakira.  “Lost & Found” by Adrienne Pierce is the best post-break-up song I’ve come across so far.  I can listen to Natalie Merchant’s rich lyrics and haunting voice for hours, and of course there is Bif Naked, whose hit “Lucky” is still the most beautiful love song I have ever heard.  Seriously, I want it played at my wedding (still harboring the delusion that I will one day get married…).  And I can’t forget the revered favorites of my childhood: Connie Dover, Linda Rondstat, Joan Baez; The Indigo Girls.  There are even more that I’m giving short shrift: Terra Naomi, The Be Good Tanyas, Frou Frou, Björk, Regina Spektor, Laura Veirs…the list goes on.

I like to listen to songs by a man or men b/c I—and everyone other woman—like to imagine that they’re singing to me.  It doesn’t even bother me that sometimes the songs are seemingly addressed to other women; I know that “Anna” or “Kelsey” are just code words for DRAGON.

Ultimately though, music by male groups is more versatile (for me, psychologically).  If Jonathan Rice is singing to me in “So Sweet,” then Tim Fite is singing for me in “Big Mistake.”  I’m heaven-sent, croons the lead singer of Brand New.  Don’t you dare forget.  Internally I shake my fist and am like, damn right!!

I guess what I’m getting at—what I wonder—is how often boys find themselves identifying…not just listening to or enjoying but personally identifying w/ female artists.  I suspect (although this is totally unqualified) that a lot of men don’t exactly go out of their way to include the likes of Ani DiFranco in their music collections, or if they do, it seems like they need an excuse: “I like her b/c she’s hot.”  Some are up front about their prejudices.  I was teasing a fellow PCV of mine about this, and he defended himself saying that he had more female artists than his friends, who usually eschewed female musicians/groups b/c, “Chicks can’t rock.”

Frankly, I doubt that very men identify w/ v. many female artists, b/c it is the male perspective that dominates our society.  It is the most acceptable, most sought after, and most supported worldview.  Women are conditioned to conform to it and imitate it, rather than encouraged to come up w/ something unique on their own.

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2 thoughts on “chained up melody

  1. Dear Dragon,

    Hmm, you totally forgot “These Boots are Made for Walking” and Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.” The latter song is one that is near and dear to me.

    Have you heard KMFDM? They’ve always employed female singers, usually in an accompanying role. However, there are some choice songs by Nina Hagen. Because Cap’n K is now married to her, Lucia Cifarelli has a full-time role in the new KMFDM. After seeing her perform live, she really *does* rock. “Not In My Name” shows that women’s voices can be really dynamic in rock music–going from soothing and melodic to screaming like a banshee.

    Now, on the flip-side, I can’t even persuade some of my female friends to do the “hair thing” that metal dudes do (think Amon Amarth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPRt6Tt6RyM ). One friend in particular is always saying, “I’ll have to brush my hair out again!”

    However, I have seen chicks at metal concerts totally rocking out and moshing and everything. There was a documentary about the band Acrassicauda, with footage of some of their small concerts in Iraq. There was a scene of a woman in a chadoor making a metal fist and headbanging.

    Cheers buddy! I hope that all’s well.

  2. Interesting point. I’d never really thought about that, but it’s true.

    So my mom and I made up a song will resonate with everyone universally. We were jealous of all the songs about California. It goes:

    Washington, Washington
    The only state where it rains year round
    But every summer we have a drought!

    Almost as good as the song I made up when I was 5:

    Underpants are stinky
    And socks are stinky too.
    (something something that I can’t remember)
    And bras are full of milk

    A budding genius I was. I can’t believe I’m squandering my talent on school and other foolishness, when I could be a STAR!

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