Friday, March 17, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Stevie Nicks and Dorothy Height

March is Girl Women's History Month.

Fact: girls can do things too!

Fact: girls can't do rock and roll, or so one might conclude from the paucity of females inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (motto: "We've got Randy Newman!"). Real fact: girls can do rock and roll (some of them).

Since I am enjoying getting on my high horse (or getting high on horse), I'm going to double dip with a series of girl-on-girl posts. It's a combination of a female musical act (or a band with a female member [possibly more]) that merits* induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a female who did something like bake a cake or killed a guy (Laura Bush killed a guy).

As a member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks is already an HoF inductee, so this post is about her induction as a solo artist worthy of inclusion. Plenty of men are multiple inductees; artists like Michael Jackson and Ringo Starr are among the 21 multiple inductees (Eric Clapton holds the distinction of being thrice inducted) yet none of them are female. Stevie Nicks and Tina Turner could change that for the Hall.

Nicks embarked on a solo career when she began writing songs for herself in-between recording sessions for Tusk (that awkward follow-up that happens after the hugely successful "infidelities and interpersonal strife" album). If living well is the best revenge, "having a better selling/better loved solo album than the album your ex just produced for the band you're in with him" should be in the top 20 of revenges.

Bella Donna was a huge album, topping Billboard's album chart and selling platinum in a few months and going multi-platinum within a year; it spawned 4 Hot 100 singles. Her second solo album, The Wild Heart, did almost as well: double platinum sales, with "Stand Back" a top 10 hit and mainstay on MTV. Her discography's sales statistics are almost reverse-logarithmic, declining by 50% for every 5 years past the 70s you go. That's what you get for turning 40s, ladies. Her solo work earned her 8 Grammy nominations with no wins. She has only one Grammy win, for Album of the Year for Rumours.

Another rock & roll credential is Nicks's high-profile relationships: Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy Iovine, Doug Henning, Don Henley, J.D. Powers Souther, Dave Stewart and Joe Walsh [damn, if Glenn Frey hadn't died she might have completed the Eagles] among them. Take that, Mick Jagger. She also serves some of the finest Tex-Mex food in the southwest.

Dorothy Height is an activist and educator who worked tirelessly in the civil rights movement. James Farmer, one of the movement's biggest leaders considered her among the "Big Six" civil rights figures, while noting that the press paid less attention to her due to sexism. 

She created Wednesdays in Mississippi, a program that brought women from the north to meet their peers in the south in the 1960s, to establish relationships, foster understanding and overcome barriers from things like race, class and geography. That's just crazy talk.

* There is a wide spectrum of rock & roll gravitas for the artists included in the 31 I will include. I feel like a reasonable case can be made for each, and everyone one of these is at least as worthy as Randy Newman, 2103 inductee.

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