In honor of the great Kim Gordon (who turned 63 last week) we’re doing a “solute your docs” tribute to our favorite 90’s musicians! I throughly believe that female musicians of the mid to late 90s have contributed in raising me. If my life was the beginning of Disney’s Hercules these women would be my muses. The Goddesses of art and life that would narrate and guide my story like the hell raising truth tellers they are. Although, the term “Goddess” feels a little flat when each one, in my mind, is Athena . . . so lets call them warriors. A lot of the way I feel about life and love comes from these songs. The understated ferocity in Tracy Chapman’s Give Me One Reason, the complete lack of sympathy in Jewel’s Who Will Save Your Soul, the unveiled disgust of patriarchy in every Tori Amos song ever – it all had a profound effect on me and the way I view and handle life. I guess it is girls unapologetically covered in dirt and truth, that’s what made me.
I do believe that there is something beneficial and liberating about listening to angry women at a young age. (It’s easier to pull the wool off someone’s eyes when it’s only partially pulled down.) Albeit, the heavier stuff (READ: Liz Phair’s Fuck and Run) should deff be saved for some early twenties angst. Regardless, it is part of the pact of our tribe to learn and be encouraged by one another, which is why we are saluting these musicians. Their truth, talent, and gumption are crucial to the soul of womanhood.
In my house, we played Tracy Chapman’s New Beginning at the Sunday night dinner table. It was the perfect ambient, socially conscious, soul groovin’ soundtrack to accompany our candle lit dinners of pot roast and noodles. Tracy has an amazing talent for mixing genres in her music. She balances soul, blues, and pop in her work and draws you in with her relatable messages and beautifully textured voice. I fall to shreds when I hear that voice, THAT’S MY CHILDHOOD IN A NUTSHELL, Y’ALL. There is something very lullaby-esk and comforting about Tracy’s voice. There is hope, resolve, pain, passion, understanding, love, acceptance, and anger in that voice all at the same time. TRACY IS ALSO DOPE AS HELL, (did you know?). Tracy has a degree in anthropology and African studies from Tufts and is a social and political activist.
Jewel tip-toes the buzzing cross wires between pop, country, and folk. Her debut album Pieces of You is the glorious mix of Jewel’s different musical influences and her unique, piercing lyrics. Jewel’s first couple albums were a folky 90s gals’ dream. Her poetry didn’t make us want to barf either . . .
He walks with a skin of stone
in effort to keep his blood from dirtying the pavement
he closes his eyes
with the deliberate determination
trying to remember
the veins behind his eyes
lead like blue road maps
to the ocean of everyone else
Be still my raging feminist heart. Tori Amos is a grand pillar of weird and wonderful. She has the most fantastic, enchanting way of thinking. I would love to pop the top off that fire red noggin’ and walk around in there for a while to see all the stories and piano considerations that are stewing. Boys for Pele was one of the best albums of the 90s (It’s 20th anniversary is this year!) and it continues to be a magnetic piece that captures listeners with its intricate composition and brutally honest lyrics.
Courtney Love, Melissa Auf der Maur, Patty Schemel and Kristen Pfaff
I only recently began to listen to Hole, but it didn’t take me anymore than 2 minutes of Live Through This to recognize how strong the album was not only for its performances but for its writing as well. I don’t buy into any of the conspiracies surrounding Courtney Love and the speculation that she didn’t write the record. I believe that the group as a whole wrote an amazing record that is completely under appreciated.
Exile in Guyville, Exile in Guyville, Exile in Guyville; who the hell has listened to this record and not felt FUCKING FREE. Liz speaks her truth in the best way possible. The premise for this album is also really great, listen to Liz talk about it on NPR.
Check out our list of fav 90’s gals on Spotify. [SIDEBAR: Spotify added more Bikini Kill songs thanks to the soundtrack for Kathleen Hanna’s documentary, The Punk Singer . . . “and the punk feminists of the world moshed a very happy dance”.]