Wednesday, July 27, 2005

the best thing you've ever done for me/is to help me take my life less seriously/it's only life after all

Went to the library this morning to pick up some music I requested; I'm determined to realize my lifelong dream of The Ultimate Shakespeare Mix CD. Think about it; a CD full of the bard's songs and poetry set to music. I've got everyone from Loreena McKennitt to John Williams to Ralph Vaughn Williams lined up. Unfortunately that only gives me 7 0r 8 tracks; and unless I want to fill up the rest with British counter-tenors (who give me the screaming meemies. I HATE counter tenors. They're goddamn fucking creepy, I tell you), I'll have to do quite a bit of digging.
Anyway, I wandered over and browsed through the CDs and picked up an Indigo Girls retrospective best-of album thing. I've had a distantly polite relationship with Amy and Emily most of my life. I first heard them, believe it or not, in a religion class at my Catholic girls school (it's so ironic I think my head might explode). My teacher, who's name escapes me, used to have each of us choose a song for us to reflect on in the context of whatever catechism lesson they were pushing on us at the time. She liked to play the Indigo Girls "Secure Yourself" a lot.
Now I bet this woman had no idea that Amy and Emily were, you know, like that, and not actually pleasant Christian folkies who were just very close friends. She was a Very Nice Person, you know the kind. She always wore pennyloafers and her socks never, ever failed to match her cable knit sweaters, which tended to be school bus yellow or shocking turquoise. (Katie, do you remember her? What the hell was her name?) "Secure Yourself" has the word "heaven" in the refrain, so I guess she felt that was all she needed to hear. Clearly, any music she liked was immediately judged to be Majorly Uncool. Ain't no way I was going to listen to it.
I later learned about the Indigo Girls progressive radical politics, but it still made me think of that religion teacher and woozy soporific Christian "rock." Ever listen to that stuff? I had to my entire sophomore year of college; my ride on breaks was a cousin, a Bible Study vet. It's full of really, really bad music and sublimated, repressed sexuality twisted around into gooey lyrics about Jeezus. It's freaky stuff, let me tell you.
Anyway, after I did the whole coming out thing (fun times), I associated the Indigo Girls with flannel wearing dykes a generation or two older than me who looked like my mom and had kids and mortgages and while that's nice, it's not really anything I connected with. Plus, it's such a cliche. It's like a lesbian qualification test, you must love the Indigo Girls, especially if you're a lesbian of a particular generation, just like you must also love Ani Difranco if you're my age (I don't).
So anyway, I picked up this album, and while I don't think I'll be burning it, I might copy a few tracks. I like them better than Ani Difranco, but not nearly as well as I like Dar Williams or Gillian Welch when it comes to women with acoustic guitars. Still, I can see why Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is always packed with thousands of topless dykes who know every single word to "Closer to Fine"

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

Cause it's a damn good song. I guess we're okay now, me and the Indigo Girls. Friendly. I can see the huge appeal they have. The world can always use more queer female radical music duos.
Yet more irony: Corny Religion Teacher also introduced me to Joan Osborne. She loved that whole "what if God was one of us" song. Which is not really her best song, IMHO. My relationship with Joan was quite different from the Indigo Girls. My sister had the tape Relish and I was kind of obsessed with it for a while there. I'd never heard a woman sing bluesy-rock like that, or with such raw sexuality. It was a baby dyke moment, to be sure, so thanks, Corny Religion Teacher. I guess I learned something from you after all.

I really am going to post about Barbara Kingsolver soon! Cause I know you're all on tenterhooks!


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