Women in Rock [ 2007-02-18, 5:34 p.m. ]

Whew. Finally, I have finished the last article for the magazine. Geez. That was like pulling teeth. Without the fun of the laughing gas. I think I was just having a hard time deciding on what angle I wanted to take on the subject of women in rock. I decided upon how they have affected me personally. Not a wide scope of them in the whole rock history. That would be too much. So if you'd like to read it, here it is.

I realized that March is Women’s History Month and that got me to thinking about how women in rock have influenced me or just plain entertained me.

One of my earliest music-related memories is thanks to Helen Reddy. That’s right. Helen Reddy. I remember being 7 years old and standing in front of the sliding glass door so I could see my reflection while I sang into my fisted hand. “Delta Dawn/What’s that flower you have on?” I was hardcore. Again, I was 7 years old. That is my excuse.

However, as I got older, my female singers were much more rocking. At the age of 14, I locked myself into my room while singing along with Pat Benatar’s Crimes of Passion album. My favorite cut being her stalker song “I’m Gonna Follow You”. The next year brought the Go-Go’s first album, Beauty and the Beat. These women were my heroes. They brought attitude with infectious pop/rock. It took me several years to put aside my dream of forming an all-girl band. Actually, I haven’t really put that dream away to tell the truth.

Some other female rockers from my youth include Suzi Quatro. Yes, Ms. Quatro was the same girl who played Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days. I still have the single “Lipstick” which I would play all the time thinking she was the coolest person in the world. And of course, there is Debbie Harry from Blondie with her breathy voice exuding dreaminess and ambivalence.

Joan Jett topped the charts with “I Love Rock n’ Roll” all while decked out in leather pants and heavy eyeliner. Annie Lennox broke boundaries with her androgynous appearance and powerful voice. And of course, Stevie Nicks with her bewitching voice and vague lyrics influenced many a girl, including myself.

But then I saw the video for the Pretenders’ song “Brass in Pocket”. Chrissy Hynde is and always will be the coolest rock chick ever. The song was perfection. And then when I saw the video for “Talk of the Town”, where she is actually playing the guitar and singing, she became a rock god. The cool attitude, the hair, the unmistakable voice…Chrissy will always be it.

Soon after that, Madonna arrived on the scene. While definitely more pop than rock, she has always had a more rock attitude, whether you like her music or not. She taught me to strut and dance like nobody was watching.

There were modern rockers like Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth who could play her bass guitar and croon “Kool Thing” that made me want to be her. I always felt she had a lot in common with Chrissy Hynde. Both could bring the cool to the stage.

PJ Harvey released Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea in 2000 and I could not keep it out of my cd player for the longest time. Before that release, I had listened to her but never really connected with her. That can happen with some artists. Some songs happen at the right time of your life. Such as Poe with her rock/dance classic Haunted cd that combined taped letters of her deceased father with semi-autobiographical songs. It truly was haunting. That is another one that rarely left the cd player. And consistently stays in my Top 10 albums of the last 10 years.

While it is true that my iPod is mainly filled with male vocals, it is the female vocals that can also truly influence and connect with me. And just thinking about this subject makes me want to seek out more female rockers. They have given me a boost in confidence when I have badly needed it since my teen years. It’s time to give back.

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