Saturday, March 18, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Alison Moyet and Valerie Plame Wilson

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).

Okay, this is a happy coincidence, featuring Alison Moyet as both a rocker chick and song of the day on the same day. Moyet's first albums, recorded with Vince Clarke as Yazoo, might be argued for inclusion in the Hall, but I'm not. This is about Moyet's solo work, beginning with 1984's Alf. There's nothing particularly rock and roll about Alf. Raindancing upped the rock quotient a bit, and Hoodoo even more, earning her a Grammy nomination for Rock Female Vocalist.

Her work since then has maintained a rock edge on some tracks while others tend to ballads or electronic. She also has a flair for covering standards. Still, rock...



Valerie Plame Wilson was a cover CIA operative and was/is the wife of Joseph Wilson, the US Ambassador (CIA operative) who went to Niger to investigate the allegations of Saddam Hussein was purchasing yellowcake uranium. When Joe wrote an op-ed in the New York Times asserting that the Bush administration was exaggerating the Iraqi threat, the Bush administration outed Plame as a CIA operative. As though his wife being CIA would undermine Wilson's credibility with respect to the yellowcake uranium. 

When I went to see the documentary The Pat Tillman Story, I wrote this:
I also said "I fucking hate George W. Bush!" during the trailer to Fair Game, the movie based on the despicable traitorous outing of Valerie Plame in an attempt to undermine the credibility of her husband (oh, by the way, he was right)—remember back when Bush said he would fire anyone in his administration who participated in her outing. Remember Scooter Libby. Remember that George W. Bush, war criminal/criminal against peace/bratty blue blood/former prep school cheerleader/liar, he PARDONED Scoot Libby. Maybe "pardon" and "fire" mean the same thing in Bush's limited vocabulary. I went to trivia night last night and was surprised that I've been confusing the Yiddish words kvell and schvitz for some time now (sorry all)—maybe that's what Bush has been doing. But back to The Tillman Story.
The George Bush administration are war criminals and criminals against peace. Dick Cheney is a war profiteer. Valerie Plame is a pawn in attempt to justify those crimes before they happened.



* 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.

Song of the Day: "Other"

Alison Moyet returns with a new album and world ("world") tour this summer.



Song: "Other"
Artist: Alison Moyet

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.

Song of the Day: "Tonight I Have To Leave It"

Really love this new track from the Shout Out Louds.



Song: "Tonight I Have To Leave It'
Artist: Shout Out Louds

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: The Motels and Theodora

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).

I wonder if the overlapping careers of The Motels, Scandal, and Quarterflash was too much for 1982 America to handle, thus imploding all 3 bands.

Follow-up question: would you include Missing Persons on that list?

The Motels have a long and confusing history, starting more than a decade before their MTV-aided success. Singer Martha Davis seems like a consistent presence in the band and clearly felt sufficient importance that the band became The Motels featuring Matha Davis then Martha Davis and the Motels and there's even a section on Martha Davis's solo career in the Wikipedia entry for The Motels. Could Martha's need to assert her role in terms of branding the band be the reason there are 31 former band members listed there? (You might be one of them, be sure to check!)

Would I have even said something if it was about Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20 or Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers? Yes. I totally would bust anyone who started as a member who of a band and who puts him/herself ahead of the others in billing. If you want to be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, start as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I will also allow for that naming convention if an established artist joins and established band: Gloria Estefan and the Attractions, for example. 



Theodora was an empress in the Byzantine empire and is a Saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Like the influential women of Juan Perón's life, Theodora's early career was in a brothel and/or as a nightclub performer. Then, when she turned 16, she traveled as a concubine of the Syrian governor of part of Libya (better than working at Hardee's).

Eventually she married Emperor Justinian and when rival factions tried to install a new emperor, it was Theodora who persuaded Justinian's course of action, keeping him in power. She is responsible for reforms to the laws around the rights of women, many of them related to owning women as sex slaves (for some reason she was against this).



* 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.

Song of the Day: "3WW"

alt-J's third album will be released in June.

If this is an indication of the sound, it should be lovely.


Song: "3WW"
Artist: alt-J

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Carole King and Eleanor Roosevelt

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).

Carole King has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, along with songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, in the non-performer category. This is about Carole King the performer who is every bit as rock & roll as Paul Simon (both as a solo artist and as a member of the very rock & roll Simon & Garfunkel).  After a 1984 tour, the Christian Science Monitor dubbed Carole King "a Queen of Rock" and it's really important to note that they said "a" and not "the", so she could be one of like 1200 Queens of Rock. And also, it's the Christian Science Monitor from 1984.

As a performer, King's released 15 Billboard 100 singles and 18 Billboard 200 albums, and won 4 Grammys: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Pop Female Vocalist. Her Tapestry album is one of the reasons the record industry created Diamond sales certification (sales of 10 million or more copies).

Also James Taylor was inducted 17 years ago and no one seems to mind that too much. She's no less rock & roll than Taylor.



Nobody disliked Eleanor Roosevelt. That doesn't mean everyone loved her, but she either had no detractors, or she had detractors who were no worth remembering. She ranks #9 on Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century, behind Helen Keller but ahead of Winston Churchill.

She is the longest serving First Lady in US history, and used the position as a soap box to advocate for civil rights. She worked to expand opportunities for women in the workplace, especially during WW2, and to ensure Blacks and Asians weren't treated as second class citizens. 

Her influence helped get the US in the United Nations and she represented the US in that organization. She was on the Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps, and was the chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. She will be depicted on the redesigned $5 bill (as part of a group of suffragettes), due 2020, if the country is still around then.



* 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.

Song of the Day: "Ocean"

Once upon a time I helped a friend of a friend escape a bad situation. Indianapolis, fighting lesbians (it seems the lesbians were fighting because he was there). He loved Goldfrapp and peppering conversation with autobiographical bon mots.



Song: "Ocean"
Artist: Goldfrapp

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: The Go-Go's and Frida Khalo

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).

The Go-Go's rose to fame in 1981 as an all-girl rock band that wrote their own music and played their own instruments (playing someone else's instrument is kind of rude). They started out as a punk band and kicked off their recording career in the UK after opening for Madness in the states and the UK. "Our Lips Are Sealed" was a minor UK hit on Stiff records. Beauty and the Beat, their debut album, included a re-recorded version of the song which became their first hit single in the US. B and the B made its way to #1 and went double platinum; their follow-up, Vacation went gold. Stupidly, their brilliant Talk Show didn't even go gold which is weird because they actually sound great on the album. 

Since then the band's broken up and reunited a few times: drugs and internecine squabbles about songwriter royalties. There's another farewell reunion tour happening now or recently concluded (so there should be another in about 3 years). Apparently women can't get along at work. 



Kahlo was primarily known as Mrs. Diego Rivera until the late 70s (once disco died, art historians were free to discover her as an artist and not just the maker of an insanely good flan). Since then, her works of magical realism via Mexican folk art have been celebrated by Mexicans, feminists, the labor movement, and the GQ-BLT community (these groups all overlap with each other, by the way).

That being said, it really was a great flan she made.




* 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.

Song of the Day: "Third of May / Ōdaigahara"

I don't think I've ever been disappointed with a Fleet Foxes song.



Song: "Third of May / Ōdaigahara"
Artist: Fleet Foxes

Monday, March 13, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Eurythmics and Edith Head

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).

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart formed Eurythmics in 1981, following the dissolution of their prior band, The Tourists. In 1983 they released Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), and the title track became a massive worldwide hit (#1 in the US, #2 in the UK), on rock, pop and college radio, and through a burgeoning MTV.  The won the first MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist and lost the Grammy for Best New Artist to Culture Club.

They recorded 5 more studio albums (plus original music for Michael Radford's 1984) before taking a hiatus (they've released 1 post-hiatus album as Eurythmics and an album as an Annie Lennox solo album with Dave producing and playing on most of the tracks). In the US they've charted with 14 Hot 100 singles and 10 Billboard 200 albums. They won the Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1986 for "Missionary Man" a year after losing that category for "Would I Lie to You?" and the R&B equivalent for their duet with Aretha Franklin, "Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves" (losing to Aretha and George Michael).



Edith Head won 8 Oscars out of her 35 nominations (she holds the record for nominations and wins among females). Two of her Oscars are for Audrey Hepburn classics, Roman Holiday and Sabrina, and in both cases Hepburn's outfits were design by European designers. Credit (and the Oscars) went to Head as the head of the studio's costume department (standard practice at that time).

She also designed the women's uniforms for the US Coast Guard. She was never even nominated for a Primetime Emmy.



* 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.

Song of the Day: "November Rain"

A solid bluegrass cover of Guns n Roses by a band named after Steven Seagal? Why not...



Song: "November Rain"
Artist: Steve'n'Seagulls

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Quote of the Day: Abysmal Failure Accomplished!

"... in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there were only a few hundred Islamist fighters in the Hindu Kush mountains. Fast forward through 16 years of the war on terror costing some $4,000bn and leaving 1.3 million dead, according to Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the number of terrorists is currently about 100,000. Even on its own terms, the war on terror has been an abysmal failure."--"World War 3 is Coming..." The Independent
The article paints a bleak portrait of a world filled with sectarian violence (I'm counting nationalistic aggression among that), and quotes Steve Bannon's prediction (or promise) of the US going to war in the South China Sea within 10 years.

Song of the Day: "Don't Pass Me By"

Laura Marling, hey her name rhymes with "critical darling", that's cool because she is. I feel like the only time I ever encounter her is when she's short-listed for the Mercury Prize (which she has been 3 times, pretty good considering she only released 5 albums prior to this year) or landing on a critic's year end list (which happens less than it did with Pinegrove last year). She's also picked up the Brit award for Best British Female (with 3 more nominations).

I've not taken to her music much, possibly because I was turned off by her precocious nature of her music. I Speak Because I Can, her 2010 release about the responsibility of womanhood, was recorded when she was 19 years old.

I'm not saying that a 19-year old doesn't have something to say. I am saying that maybe a 19-year old shouldn't talk about womanhood as though she's taken a comprehensive tour of it.

Flash forward to today and a review of the new album mentions the Portishead-ish-ness of this track and suddenly I'm digging her. I'm shallow like that.



Song: "Don't Pass Me By"
Artist: Laura Marling

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Melissa Etheridge and Isabel Martínez de Perón

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).

I don't recall who came out first, k.d. lang or Melissa Etheridge. It's probably fair to call it a tie; it probably happened in 1992 since everyone was a lesbian in 1992. They both deserve credit for courage that Elton ("bisexual") John, Morrissey ("I'm a human-sexual, but not really sexual"), Pet Shop Boys (interviews seemed to avoid the topic altogether or got circumspect responses and they never really stepped up until the lesbians cleared the way). They weren't the first openly gay (and by gay I mean GQ-BLT) musicians, but they were the biggest musicians who didn't hide behind the "bisexual" label. 

Melissa Etheridge was the biggest woman in rock at the beginning of the 90s (which was appropriate since the 90s were super fucking gay). She's received 15 Grammy nominations (winning 2) and an Academy Award. She has 9 Hot 100 singles and 15 Billboard 200 albums. 

She has a string of ex-wives (rock & roll!!!). 

For some amount of time her hair verged on mullet: rock & roll!



Juan Perón's second wife gets all the attention. Eva caught the attention of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber (he's a monster), and became the subject of their musical Evita (perhaps you've heard of it, there was a movie). Eva died at age 33 from cervical cancer.

You didn't expect Juan to stay home and mourn for the rest of his life, did you? 

Isabel (born Maria) dropped out of school after 5th grade and became a nightclub dancer (you can't say Juan didn't have a type). She met Juan during his exile in Panama. He took her to Spain when he moved his exile there in 1960, but the Catholics weren't thrilled with him spending so much time with a woman 35 years younger than him outside of marriage (or, you know, being her dad or something). So Juan married, reluctantly, for the third time.

Isabel acted as Juan's envoy to South America (what with him being exiled and all), and was in the right place at the right time in terms of Juan's eventual return to power in Argentina. In the 1973 elections, factions of Perón's supporters couldn't agree on a running mate, so they put Isabel on the ticket as his Vice President. They won handily in 1973 and Juan's health declined quickly the next year. He died on July 1, leaving Isabel to ascend to the position of La Presidente (which is a feminine article with a masculine title but the Argentine Constitution only refers to Presidente and never to Presidenta so what are you gonna do...). 

She is the first female President of any country in the world.

She probably used the state police to silence her opponents (she was arrested in Spain for the forced disappearance of an activist in the 70s but Spain is not extraditing her [also she's still alive]), and definitely used the military to help her stay in power. The economy of the country tanked and she wasn't helpful to the CIA, so her reign ended in March of 1976. She maintains a low profile in Spain, probably living off some large amount of money that may have been embezzled from state industries in 1975. Maybe, maybe not. 

Women can make history for bad things too.



* 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.