Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Worship Like a Mother

On a snowy Monday night in the dead of winter, I trudged down to the Danforth in my snowsuit to worship at the church of Ani Difranco.

I would pretty much do anything to see my hero live and no snowdrift palisading my car could tear us apart.  I've seen her perform live approximately 10 times in a variety of continents.

February 2nd Ani Difranco plays the Danforth Music Hall

It's hard for me to summarize the greatness that is Ani Difranco in one 'lil blog posting.  She is an American singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, poet and songwriter of both a folk and alternative rock genre. She has released more than 20 albums and is widely considered a Feminist icon. She's the most talented artist I have ever been exposed to.  You have Bob Dylan's music to evoke and impress the shit out of you, I have Ani's.

For all the lyrics that run through my head at all times, two-thirds of them are Ani's. As dangerous as this seems, and fuck knows I'm a bit of a rebel, in my darkest moments and most frightening times, I have said to myself: "What would Ani do?" 

I'll be the first to admit the flaws in Hero-Worship, and Ani, in return would say this:

 "Why do you think I write these feminist songs, to try and teach myself to respect myself. You know, it's not because I'm a hero"

Growing up I've had so many women sing to me about the joys and pitfalls of love: 

Whitney, Madonna, Mariah, Stevie, Alanis, Carly, Kate, Billie, Janet, Cyndi, Sade, Jewel, Natalie, Jann, Mary J, Sinead, Fiona, Dolores, Courtney, Belinda, Reba, T-Boz, Cheryl, Sarah, Lauryn, Tracy, Bonnie, Shania, Joni, Gwen, Dolly, Janis, Tina, Annie and Ani too, very much.

But Ani was the big sister who was having a dialogue with me about something other than boys.

At her winter concert the other night, Ani did not disappoint.  It was a mixed crowd and we mostly stayed in our chairs in our grown-up-hey-this-isn't-the-90's-anymore appreciative kind of way. 

The Set List along with my own personal interpretations of each of these songs:

1. Not a Pretty Girl: I wrote the lyrics in purple paint on the bedroom wall of the apartment I shared with my best friend Katie when we were 19.  I consider this to be a classic Feminist-anthem for young girls. Rising up when you feel small against the patriarchy, the government and conventional beauty standards.
Best Lyric: "And what if there are no damsels in distress. What if I knew that and I called your bluff? Don't you think every kitten figures out how to get down whether or not you ever show up?"

2. If He Tries Anything: A song about having your girl's back as you navigate yourselves freely and fiercely in the world of men. Protecting yourselves from both the sources of desire but also of danger. 
Best Lyric: "Go and get him girl before he gets you.  I'll be watching you from the wings, I will come to your rescue if he tries anything."

3. Careless Words: This seems to be a pretty straight-forward song about the lies people tell us; in the world of super powers and in the world of love.
Best Lyric: "I learned as a child, big talker, just shut the whole thing down that polluted well, big talker, that whole polluted town."

4. Allergic to Water: Off her new album; an open letter to the culprits of Fracking and environmental pollution.
Best Lyric: "And a good day is one when that ache in my brain, can remain at a doable three. And I don't really want your sympathy, I'm just telling you so you'll understand, This is me, sincerely, doin' the best that I can."

5. Shy: One of my all-time favourites. She's just passing through during a tour in a hot, fat city and wants to hook up for just one night.
Best Lyric: "and you'll stop me, won't you if you've heard this one before, the one where I surprise you by showing up at your front door, saying 'let's not ask what's next, or how, or why. I am leaving in the morning so let's not be shy"

6. Dithering: A new song about staying in-the-know with politics & news; the constant contradictions and mind-control. Evaluating our worthiness for knowing/not knowing.  Feeling overwhelmed by the clutter of media.
Best Lyric: "Mama look at this headline, they say we’re getting dumber. They keep doing them tests on stuff and coming out with new bummers. Remind me to quit my job, say farewell to it all. Remind me to plant those sunflowers along the south wall"

7. Happy All the Time: The religion of Ani. She owes nothing to the men who "discovered'" the religions that promise enlightenment and that these religions weren't built on the foundation of women, nor are they inclusive of women even in modern times.
Best Lyric: "And I have great admiration for those that raise up mankind. But I'm afraid that great gift is not meant to be mine. Cuz me I'm just happy all the time."

8. Genie: What a great song. Simply put, the luck in finding love. How one "does their time" before love comes to find them.
Best Lyric: "You came out of the blue like twilight's first star, and we picked up on each other from somewhere deep and far. And we woke up married after one drunk fuck, and I couldn't believe you'd found me and I couldn't believe my luck."

9. Alrighty: The sun is the creator, you foolish religion of men. Religion is one big hot mess.  And that maybe God is female. Or nothing at all.
Best Lyric: The song is too fresh, I can't find it on the web.

10. Swan Dive: This is a pretty powerful Ani classic; Grabbing life by the balls even if no one believes in you.  Being brave by being vulnerable. Treading water in a man's world. The sharks here represent the music industry execs.
Best Lyric: "I'm going to do my best swan dive, into shark-infested waters, I'm gonna pull out my tampon and start splashing around.  'Cuz I don't care if they eat me alive, I've got better thing to do than survive."

11. Stop: This too is so new I cannot find the lyrics but I made a few notes during the show. Gestures of kindness at home is the basis for world peace.  Schools need to teach non-violent communication and governments need to lead by example.
Best Lyric: "Stop in the middle of a battle and say you're sorry."

12. Fire Door: She wrote this song when she was 18 and is off her debut album.  This is one of her G.O.A.T's. She accidentally walks in on her lover kissing another. Then she storms down the street in absolute heartbreak. 'Nuff said.
Best Lyric: "Oh, how I miss substituting the conclusion to confrontation with a kiss and oh, how I miss walking up to the edge and jumping in."

13. Harder Than it Needs to Be: Ode to the domestic un-bliss. Married life ain't easy, y'all. 
Best Lyric: "I know I married your mama and I married your papa. When I married you and right now it's clear who I'm talking to"

14. Spider: Ani parodies a Shirly Bassey-esque James Bond theme and it is so goddamn clever.  In Ani's James Bond movie all the babes are queer and Mr. Bond can't tap any of it.
Best Lyric:  All of it!

15. Untouchable Face: She loves him but he loves some other girl.  He is untouchable and Ani is angry!
Best Lyric: "Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of you, too bad you had to have a better half. She's not really my type but I think you two are forever and I hate to say it but you're perfect together. So Fuck You, and you're untouchable face."

16. Shameless: Ani is having an affair with a man's wife.  They are sneaking around. It is the best sex of her life.  She asks her to put all the blame on her if they ever get caught.
Best Lyric: "We're in a room without a door and I am sure without a doubt they're gonna wanna know how we got in here and they're gonna wanna know how we plan to get out.  We better have a good explanation for all the fun that we had 'cuz they are coming for us, baby, they are going to be mad."


Both Hands:  The first song off her first album. It's a story about two young lovers who fuck and fight. She begs her lover to please hold on.  
Best Lyric:  "In each other's shadows we grew less and less tall and eventually our theories couldn't explain it all. And I'm recording our history now on the bedroom wall and when we leave the landlord will come and paint over it all."

32 Flavours: Well this is just the best live pow-wow song ever.  It's magical.  This song speaks for itself.  Love the metaphors.
Best Lyric: "still there's many who've turned out their porch lights just so I would think they were not home and hid in the dark of their windows 'til I'd passed and left them alone."

Yeah, you did

No comments:

Post a Comment