Throughout the world, since 1975, we have set aside the 8th of March as a day to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. So a radio show airing on March 10, hosted by a pretty feisty woman at that, had a fairly predictable theme begging. I roped in young Zoe to help give the show a wider perspective and we got stuck into presenting some of our favourite female artists. That’s both of us at the end of the show, about to down a well earned shot of caffeine!
We opened the show with ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’, from Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. A great feminist anthem, the tune was recorded in 1985 – the year that Zoe was born! Feeling more than a little ancient, I squeezed in my favourite Blues singers – Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin – before handing over the program to Zoe’s first three choices – The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Feist and Robots in Disguise (‘their song La Nuit’ is great – I never thought I could be converted to Electro! Go figure). The video clip is mad, mad, mad…..
When I was putting together my choice for ‘rock chicks’, Zoe suggested Stevie Nicks (much to my surprise), and who was I to argue? The title of ‘Edge of Seventeen’ was inspired by Tom Petty’s wife Jane who has a strong Southern accent. When Nicks misheard her say ‘the age of seventeen’ as ‘edge of seventeen’ she swore that she would write a song with the latter as the title. The song’s lyrics came about as a direct result of the grief she felt over the death of both an uncle and John Lennon’s death in the same week of December 1980. The track became the 3rd single from her hit album Bella Donna. It was used in the film ‘School of Rock’ with Jack Black which brought the song, and Stevie, to the attention of a whole new generation.
I also totally approved of Zoe’s next three selections: M.I.A., Soko and Cat Power. M.I.A. is an interesting singer. We all know who she is now because of her Academy Award nomination (with A.R. Rahman) for ‘O…Saya’ as Best Song, from the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. It didn’t win but now my generation is aware of this precocious young performer. An accomplished visual artist by 2002, she came to prominence in early 2004 through file-sharing of her singles ‘Galang’ and ‘Sunshower’s on the Internet.
But I have to say that Soko is my favourite of this bunch. She may turn out to be a one-hit wonder with her very cute and controversial song ‘I’ll Kill Her’ but if you keep your sense of humour intact, she is a rare and refreshing new talent. Here’s hoping that we hear more of her. She was supposed to have released an album in February of 2009 but her MySpace page, as of January, insists that she has quit singing. Hope not! Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25AsfkriHQc
There are so many other great female artists. My selection included the original rock chick – Joan Jett – more blues and r&b with Dinah Washington and Etta James and I even got in some country with Linda Ronstadt singing her version of Roy Orbison’s ‘Blue Bayou’ (and you were wondering how I was going to fit a Roy Orbison song into a show about women! No worries).
Zoe and I both wanted Nina Simone in there and what better song to showcase that amazing voice than ‘I Put A Spell On You’, originally recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1957. And then, of course, there was Amy Winehouse, P.J.Harvey, Shirley Manson, Aretha Franklin and we finished the show with Regina Spektor’s fantastic version of John Lennon’s song ‘Real Love’. This is a song that Spektor contributed to the Amnesty International album to save Darfur. So many of the artists we showcased today are not only strong women artists but they are politically aware and contributing positively to change, not just for women but for all mankind. Respect indeed. Have a look at Regina Spektor at the Bonnaroo Festival in 2007:
Here’s the complete playlist:
Sisters Are Doin It For Themselves (1985) – Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox
Billie’s Blues (1936) – Billie Holiday
One Good Man (1969) – Janis Joplin
Rich (2003) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mushaboom (2004) – Feist
La Nuit (2005) – Robots In Disguise
Up The Neck (1980) – The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde
Edge of Seventeen (1981) – Stevie Nicks
Bad Reputation (1981) – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Paper Planes (2007) – M.I.A.
I’ll Kill Her (2008) – SoKo
Sea Of Love (2008) [Remastered Version] – Cat Power
Crazy (1962) – Patsy Cline
Jolene (1973) – Dolly Parton
Blue Bayou (1977) – Linda Ronstadt (Roy Orbison cover)
Glory Box (1994) – Portishead
Bachelorette (1997) – Bjork
Big Long Slidin’ Thing (1954) – Dinah Washington
Tell Mama (1968) – Etta James
Push It (1986) – Salt N Peppa
I Put A Spell On You (1968) – -Nina Simone
Cupid (2006) – Amy Winehouse
Cry Baby (1971) – Janis Joplin (With Full Tilt Boogie)
C’mon Billy (1995) – PJ Harvey
Stupid Girl (1996) – Garbage (Shirley Manson)
Respect (1967) – Aretha Franklin
Real Love (2007) – Regina Spektor
Next week: Inspired by the this week’s leaping of generations, the theme next Tuesday will be ‘Age’ – young, old and in-between.
Tune into the Theme Park with Lyn at BayFM 99.9 each Tuesday 2-4pm (Sydney time), or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org.