Women in music?
I have to admit that I prefer female voices to male voices … and I must admit that I’m somewhat disturbed by the lack of females represented on the Country Music Chart; I saw two females in the Top 20 – 2! No, I’m not some guy hollering discrimination against women – I’m just asking the question, why are there not more females in the Top 20? In my opinion, and my opinion only, I can unequivocally tell you that I prefer to have females singing to me over males … just do.
The first music I remember ever hearing was a song called, “Downtown” by a lady named Petula Clark. Soon after that I remember Lulu’s “To Sir With Love”. Those songs ingrained my love of, not only music but, female singers. Soon after that I feel in love with the music of Motown, especially The Supremes – Diana Ross being one of my all time favorite voices … her voice has what we, in the South would call, Sultry. Love Diana Ross! Hell of a story about how she became the lead singer of The Supremes. nope, she wasn’t SUPPOSED to be the lead singer, Mary Wilson was, but Barry Gordy recognized that Ms Ross’s voice had something that the big Whitney Houston type voices didn’t have. To answer your question, Diana’s voice makes a man go weak in the knees, makes him want to – well, give her a Credit Card … yeah, she had the Marilyn Monroe of voices.
A few years after The Supremes rules the air waves a gal from, M, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, hump back, hump back, i … started putting out music … yeah, that’s how Hillbillies like me learned how to spell Mississippi … I know, I guess kids are just smarter these days 🙂 Anyway, this ol’ gal names Bobbie Gentry exploded onto the music scene in the late 60s. Miss Bobbie was not only a singer, but, and exceptional songwriter as well. Miss Bobbie is most famous for writing and singing the song, “Fancy”, yeah the song Reba McIntire ruined. Oh be quiet, don’t get your undies in a wad, I know Reba’s an icon and all that, but, even with all that, she just couldn’t make me believe that she could be a high-priced prostitute as necessitated by character in the song. Sorry, she just doesn’t have the looks for it. Reba is “cute” but not the “Gorgeous” woman the song implies, plus, her Oklahoma accent doesn’t fit the streets of New Orleans. If you don’t get what I mean just listen to Miss Bobbie’s version. But, as big as the song Fancy was, Ms Gentry’s best song is one you’ve probably never heard of, till now. Her best song never became a #1 hit on the charts. However, this song was Goddess-like in its simplicity, an unbelievable song – I will add that this song was recently picked as one of the 500 greatest songs ever made by Billboard Magazine – YEAH!!! That’s by the experts … trust me, this song is mythic.
“Ode to Billy Joe” is a song hard to describe because it’s a work on genius – seriously. This song had a mixture of simple yet brilliant dialog that more or less takes place over a supper table about a boy named Billy Joe who MIGHT have committed suicide. I say might because I’m of the impression that she killed him and threw him off the bridge, or pushed him off the Tallahatchie Bridge. But lots of other folks had lots of different idea about what happened to Billy Joe, and this mystery created so much talk that back in the day they actually made a movie about what THEY, the films producers, thought had happened to him. Yeah, this song, even though it wasn’t a huge hit is rare in its power to captivated ones imagination.
Yes, the words to that song are definitely powerful and mysterious, but it wasn’t just the story, it was the music too that captivates the listener … it’s … a rhythm that is … well … female!!. Yeah, if that’s even possible … let me explain it this way. Have you ever watched a women walking? Not when she’s in a hurry, but when she’s just strolling along. Well, women have this something about ’em that is unique only to them and them alone; some men try to emulate it, but it’s an impossibility, this rhythm of motion is a gift to them from God. The stroll of a woman, the swinging of the hips, that gentle sweep of grace, it’s … hard to describe, it’s like the pulling of the tides, and all women have it naturally – they can’t help it, it’s just part of their mystique, their power over men. Well, somehow Miss Bobbie captured that unique feminine movement, that gentle swaying, that pulse, in the rhythm of this song – yeah, it’s hypnotic, it’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it’s SULTRY!
As you know, a lot of song remakes just don’t measure up to the originals – take Reba’s version of Fancy for instance. But in the case of “Ode to Billy Joe”, as hard as it would be to match the quality of the original song, being one of the 500 greatest songs of all time, there is actually a remake version by Patty Smith that is unbelievably as good as the original. Miss Patty not only had the right vocals for the song, but in her version she added a cool saxophone riff into it and man it’s awesome.
Women in music, what can I say … well, I can bring it forward and talk about the female artists of today which are just as influential as they were back when I first took notice of them – even more so. Pioneers like Lucinda Williams are … WHAT… you don’t know who Lucinda Williams is? SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!! This gal is something beyond good, she’s genius … in fact if you Google “Badass” I would expect her picture to pop up. Yeah, she’s frigging epic. No, she doesn’t make radio music, she, thank God, has stayed true to herself, kind of a Bonnie Rait/Amy Winehouse type of badass.
Women musicians today? Yeah, there are some greats … Stop it … Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce … they ain’t musicians, they’re mannequins who care more about fame and money than they do about music – they entertain, they provide entertainment to our hypnotized children and to that segment of the male population who places a higher value on a woman’s vagina than he does her mind … in my opinion, they’re, embarrassing.
The women I’m talking about are masters of music … individuals who exemplify both being a woman and being a musician – Ashton Shepherd, Ellie Goulding, Grace Potter, Kacey Musgraves, Lana Del Rey, Lee Ann Womack, Lila Downs, London Grammar, Pink, Sade, Sunny Sweeney, Tracey Chapman – all badasses in their own field … these women have made it on their music, alone.
No, sir. I ain’t got nothing against vagina, but when that’s all you have to offer, well, that’s ok too, but admit to making soft porn, don’t claim to be a musician. Truth is, if Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus didn’t have TV and videos to rely on to sell their music, they couldn’t sell 100 records between ’em – sorry, it’s just the truth. Kids nowadays are hypnotized into thinking that Bling and Breast Implants are what’s important in life. Like I said, I have no problem with a woman showing her body, I’ll look every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But don’t try to tell me that those ladies are musically talented – that their music compares to the women I mentioned above. These women aren’t musicians, they’re Entertainers – got no problem with that … but don’t compair Beyonce’ with Lucinda WiIIiams or Lana Del Rey.
No, I aint’ a prude when it comes to women and sex. I believe that if a man can use his body to make a living, then a woman should have the same right to use HER body to earn a living or even a fortune – no problem with Taylor, Beyonce, Jennifer or Miley doing their thing – just don’t tell me they’re music is iconic, or even good, it ain’t. Women in Music … YES! But let’s include all women, not just the ones that are beautiful to look at.
PLAY LIST: check out these BADASSES
Amy Winehouse – You know I’m No Good/Love is a Losing Game
Ashley McBryde – Girl Goin’ Nowhere/Hands on You
Ashton Shepherd – Look It Up
Grace Potter – White Rabbit
Kacey Musgraves – Rainbow/Merry Go Round/Blowin’ Smoke
Lana Del Rey – Million Dollar Man
Lee Ann Womack – I May Hate Myself In The Morning/Solitary Drinkin’
Lila Downs – La Llorona/ La Cumbia Del Mole’
London Grammar – Metal and Dust/Strong
Lucinda Williams – Are You Down/Can’t Let Go/Born To Be Loved
Sade – Long Hard Road
Sunny Sweeny – Ten Years Pass
Tracey Chapman – Fast Car
In the NEXT part of this feature on Women, Part 3, I’ll take you into the heart of the matter, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll comment on what the world would be like if women ran it instead of men; yeah guys, it used to be that way, before the advent of modern religion … Women, God’s gift to the world. Yep. It’s the truth.
Three Rivers, 5-10-21