Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Day Seven: What Can I Say

I had an interview today, so I'm a little wrung out. So here's some of my go-to music: a woman's voice and an acoustic guitar.

Brandi Carlile drew me carefully back into that folksy, country music that was present a lot of the time when I was was a kid growing up, that I was dismissing out of hand because of the guys with pickup trucks and cowboy hats that I really was afraid I'd become. But the woman's voice in country music is much more complex, complicated, and nuanced than many of the male voices in country music, probably because of the complex, complicated and nuanced place that "traditional Midwestern culture" allows for women in general. Including all of those edge cases and outliers that are present but often unacknowledged. I spent a lot of time denying that Neko Case and Melissa Ethridge and other artists I liked were connected to country, because I didn't like the label Country Music, when in fact I liked and often admired many of the artists. Because when the "Country Music" label comes up, there's a lot of fantastically toxic masculinity bound up in that pigeon hole (a little like the "Rap Music" or "Hip Hop" label, but we'll go there later), which often drowns out the much more interesting, much less easy-to-categorize work.

For a very long time in the US music scene, at least, if you were a woman with a good voice and a strong songwriting talent and could play the guitar, the only kind of music you could make was Country & Western music, because even with all the toxic messages in C&W there was at least a space for women; Rock & Roll and Alternative were flat-out boy's clubs where women just weren't allowed to play, period. The Punk reaction to Rock & Roll was a significant vector for those women who wanted to play but had been pushed out (Poly Styrene immediately leaps to mind as the obvious example). I have a bunch of thoughts about this, and I'll write more at some time when I'm not exhausted.

So but anyway Brandi Carlile was the first artist where I really didn't have an out. She was unabashedly Country and proud of it. So here's one of my favourite songs by her.

Obligatory Youtube Link: http://youtu.be/cKzrW-Na958