Friday, March 20, 2009

Girls Who Play Guitars

The Pretenders--"Message Of Love" (mp3)

So, somehow, a few night ago, I got sucked into watching Dancing With The Stars, a show I had managed to avoid altogether for the first seven seasons and that I didn't even understand, in terms of its logistics or its appeal. But when the first dance I saw finished with the male partner sliding his index finger in the sweat between the breasts of his female contestant, I don't know, I decided I'd watch for awhile.

Now that I have your attention, what I really want to talk is Belinda Carlisle. She is one of the contestants on the show this year, and when they showed her, my daughter said, "Who is that?" in a what's-she-doing-here kind of voice. My response, "That's Belinda Carlisle; she used to sing for the Go-Go's," was as illuminating to her as if I'd said nothing at all.

That's fair, I guess. The Go-Go's haven't held up very well either. But thinking about them raised for me once again the questions: Why don't women rock? Enough. Why don't women rock enough? Why aren't there more women rockers? What aren't more women into rock?

I do not intend to be stereotypical nor do I intend to invite a litany of responses from people reminding me of some random woman here or there who rocks. I know they are out there. They're just in such an impressive minority that I can't draw any conclusions except that there aren't nearly enough of them, a point that was really driven home to me when I tried to create my list of......

The baker's dozen greatest female rock songs of all time:
(in no particular order--I don't rank them; I'm just glad they exist)

1. Janice Joplin--"Piece of My Heart"

2. Heart--"Barracuda"

3. Liz Phair--"Fuck and Run"

4. Jefferson Airplane--"Somebody To Love"

5. B52's--"Roam"

6. The Pretenders--"Mystery Achievement"

7. Stevie Nicks--"Edge of Seventeen"

8. Linda Rondstadt--"How Do I Make You?"

9. Miranda Lambert--"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

10. The Bangles--"Hazy Shade of Winter"

11. Patti Smith--"Gloria"

12. Fetchin' Bones--"Flesh Blanket"

13. Lone Justice--"Ways To Be Wicked"

I can just imagine you poking holes in my sad little list. Believe me, I had to work to get it; it didn't just come off the top of my head. Among my many problems with the list are these: a) I don't even like Patti Smith's version of "Gloria;" I just acknowledge it for its influence, b) Miranda Lambert is a country singer (but that song does rock); the same could be said of Linda Rondstadt who made a career move toward the "New Wave" during the 80's, but isn't really a rocker, c) two of these songs are covers, not original material, d) only four of these songs come from the last 30 years of music, e) I don't know enough of X's songs to have added one of them to the list.

If you yourself decide to engage in a similar exercise, I think you will discover several things. First, that many of the songs that you really like by women don't really rock. That may even be why you like them. Second, that the 80's, which would appear to have a plethora of female rockers really only have flimsy imitations--Pat Benatar, the Go-Go's, Blondie, etc. Sure, they have hits, but they don't have the thump, the punch, the crunch of great rock songs. Only Chrissie Hynde delivers the goods, at least to these ears. Finally, and, here's where you can help me, you may have several contemporary offerings to add to such a list that I know nothing about. I would appreciate that.

Maximo Park and The Pretenders are both available at Itunes.


Anonymous said...

Sleater Kinney – 3 ladies that definitely rock the house. Currently disbanded and doing other things, but they have a ton of great albums.
Here’s one off their site that seems pretty appropriate for this topic.

Kim Deal – Every Breeders record has some rocking songs.

Frances McKee – the vaselines

Satomi Matsuzaki (Deerhoof) – tons of songs on link below.

Jennifer herrema – any royal trux record and her new outfit rtx ---pretty out there.

Belinda Butcher (My Bloody Valentine) ---Only Shallow?

Alison Mosshart -The Kills

Vivian Girls


the slits

screaming females – actually do a neil youg cover….cortez the killer

Karen O – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

PJ Harvey

exene – X

Kim Gordon – Sonic Youth

Georgia Hubley – yo la tengo

Kendra – Bass player for black flag and Mike Watt’s ex-wife

Hope Nichols – Fetchin Bones and Snagglepus lead singer

Joanna Bolme – Bass player for Malkmus and the Jicks

Wendy O Williams - Plasmatics

Deiter of Venice, CA said...

Maybe the problem isn't that women don't rock enough but rather it's your expectation of what women play should somehow be different. Women play music differently. There's more than enough quality cock-rock in the world, we don't need women to try to grow musical dicks to satisfy us. Let women do what they do. Praise the pussy!

Bob said...

Deiter, appreciate the comment. I made the concession to your point, though, in the post ("First, that many of the songs that you really like by women don't really rock. That may even be why you like them.")itself. There is enough great rock and stuff that rocks that isn't "cock rock" that I fear you may be the one caught in stereotypes.