I was gearing up yesterday to add a short Bricolage for Dark Side of the Womb week, a piece on woman and diamonds (which I'll post next week), when my wife (Sarah Olson, also a Beams writer) talked me into going a different route. She suggested taking a look at feminine darkness and shadow from a slightly more positive angle, and after talking that through, the following piece was born. We spent an enjoyable evening last night selecting the music videos on offer below.
In the Saskia's Sacred Sundays post The Full Side of Awakening that kicked off Dark Side week, she talked about "embracing the "darker" sides of our nature". In Chela's article Those Crazy Bitches she talked about woman who have trouble expressing their anger. In the comment section one woman wrote about not being able to express her 'negative' emotions. Others talked about how mythic archetypes from other cultures, such as the Hindu goddess Kali, helped contribute to their own liberation. So I got to thinking, what if we showed examples of women who dug down deep into the dark underbelly, the nitty gritty, the sublime and the sexual, the ferocious fount of raw power within- and fucking rocked out!! So the following is a celebration of women who've embraced the fierce whirls and swirls within and created some great rocking art, with many breaking down gender barriers along the way.
This is a fairly long set of music I must admit, but we felt that we really needed to include all these examples to both allow for diversity, and to include a number of really great young women on the scene today. So perhaps come back to the piece a couple of times or, better yet, find a friend, hook up your computer to some (loud!) speakers, grab a bottle of wine, and have a listening/discussion party while taking in these cultural artifacts.
We decided to present them in chronological order so that the evolution of women's expression over time could be witnessed. We begin with a powerful song by the folk artist Odetta. She was a big influence on Bob Dylan (among others), and it's not hard to hear why:
Next up we move to Janis Joplin. What can you say about Janis. I get goosebumps every time I hear her raw burning soul-fired release.
The band Heart was unusual for their times as they had two women singers and they rocked hard, sounding like Zeppelin fronted by a woman. The 1977 song Barracuda gallops along with wild steed horsepower.
Joan Jett blazed trails by being in one of the first ever women-only punk rock bands. I heard one of her former Runaways band mates in a radio interview recently, and it sounded like this was a very difficult experience; many men didn't want to admit women into the official punk circle. However, after surviving that tribulation Jett went on to a solo career that included this smokin smash hit, replete with punked out leather and a very badass riff.
I thought we should also add Lee Aaron's 1984 hit song Metal Queen to this list. It brings in a slightly different genre (hard rock/heavy metal) and makes for good anthropological study. I'm sure there was many a headbanger in the eighties who went to bed at night dreaming of a private rendezvous with the Metal Queen.
Next we move to the 2002 and Avril Lavigne's second hit single Sk8er Boi. Some might find this a questionable/borderline choice, and there's no doubt that it's a highly produced song etc., but I think Avril expressed an authentic fire and a certain ass-kicking sensibility that helped this song blow up in the way that it did.
The guitarist Jack White has been making an increasing habit of collobarating with some great kick ass women, and Allison Mosshart of The Dead Weather is one of the best, a truly electrifying and sweat drenched Kali-riffic presence on stage. Here's them doing Treat Me Like Your Mother live. Check out the official video for the song too, which is very cool.
Next up is the band Paramore, who formed in 2004. I don't know them that well, but Sarah is drawn to the energy and spirit of lead vocalist Hayley Williams, and they have gained quite a following in the culture, so we decided to include it here!
Remember that whole whiney folky sounding female vocal style of the 90s that was exemplified by the breathy Jewel. Ya, well, Florence and The Machine run that shit over in their Rockmobile as they burn down the highway of full throated thunder dance soul release.
And last up is the band Evanescence, with their female lead singer Amy Lee. I don't know the band that well, and have never owned an album, but I somehow knew that they'd be perfect for this list, and when we watched this video, it was clear Amy Lee an company were making the cut.
Thanks for enjoying this cultural safari with us, and if you have any reflections after your viewing of these videos, please share him with us. Kali rocks!!