Thursday, July 28, 2005

A good wait ruined

Chris Rock does a hilarious bit about women and hip-hop lyrics. In his sketch, the women are on the dance floor, grooving to a fare-thee-well to the most misogynistic lyrics imaginable, and when he asks them about it, they say something like "I don't know what he's sayin'--it's got a great beat."

How I wish I, too, could ignore lyrics. Earlier this evening, I went to a local restaurant to pick up some food, and Macy Gray was on the sound system. I really like Macy Gray. In a world where Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston are actually considered r&b vocalists, Macy Gray is a breath of fresh air. But there are those damned lyrics. "Why Didn't You Call me?" has a genuine r&b groove that I love, and Macy's vocals are are a lot of fun, but...

We had such a good time
Hey! Why didn't you call me?
I thought I'd see you again

Oh, please. Maybe in 1954. But no, here we were, on the cusp of the 21st Century, and Macy was powerless because he didn't call her. As much as I love the vocals and rhythms of this song, I'd much rather girls listened to Christina Aguilera's and Lil' Kim's "Can't Hold Us Down."

Listening to "Why Didn't You Call Me?" made me think about sexist lyrics in general, and you could fill a dictionary-sized book with them, but my nominee for the all-time worst (I'm not even dealing with hip-hop woman-hating violence here) is still Tom Jones' "She's a Lady." A disgusting song, line for line, "She's a Lady" was written by Paul Anka, who also graced us with the sickening "You're Having My Baby."

It would sure be nice if things had changed.


Isn't it gross to hear these kinds of lyrics from modern-day performers? I was going to write a similar post, but somehow never got around to it, about Norah Jones' "Turn Me On" (on her "Come Away with Me" album). All she does is flatter the male ego with her passive sexuality (she's just waiting for her man to come home and turn her on - gee, ever heard of MASTURBATING?) She has no sexuality of her own, it's completely dependent on a man to give it to her. Yuck!

By Blogger Melinda Casino, at 9:48 AM  

Lucinda Williams' "Right In Time" comes to mind. She sang it on some morning TV show and the hosts were shocked and appalled. It's a wonderful song in that it totally celebrates the man she misses, but not in a passive way.

In fact, I like her songs about male-female relationships more than just about anyone's. She is one of the few women to write playfully and warmly about men without being submissive or idealizing.

By Blogger Diane, at 10:14 AM  

Hmm, thanks for the tip, I'll check her out as an antidote to NJ.

By Blogger Melinda Casino, at 10:35 AM  

Start with "Car Wheels On a Gravel Road," one of my favorite of all the albums I own. They're all great, though--from the early, blues-folk sounds to the latest, "World Without Tears," which marks a significant change in production style. I've seen her in concert twice, and she's a wonder. Her father is the poet, Miller Williams.

By Blogger Diane, at 12:43 PM  

My gawd, the songs I've grown up with. "She's a Lady" is one, "Chevy Van" is another that creeps me out no end. You're right: there are literally 100's to choose from, and I wish it was something that musicians would outgrow.

Regarding Lucinda Williams: although I have heard her songs and really liked "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," especially, I went to hear her perform at a benefit here in L.A. for my niece's school, and she showed up 2 hours late and drunk, and her performance was awful. Maybe she only makes an effort for highly-paid gigs. I just wish she wouldn't have bothered. I was stuck in that hot crowd for hours and I hate being in crowds in the first place!

I left after she re-started her first song 3 times. She was also really cranky. I don't know for sure she was drunk, but it was either that, sedated or wayyyyy overly tired. In any case, a big disappointment.

By Blogger Helen Wheels, at 2:21 PM  

I had heard that Lucinda used to have a drinking problem, and I guess that's true, and it is haunting her again. I'm very disappointed to hear that. Her story is a tough one, which you can read simply by listening to her lyrics. (Though it was critically ignored, "Bus To Baton Rouge" tears me up.) A huge talent, she was completely ignored by the industry (who didn't know what to do with her because she didn't fit a marketing niche--she was merely a genius) until she was in her late 40's.

She performed in New Orleans quite a bit when I first lived there, but I didn't know about her, so I never saw her then. Miller was always an iconoclast, and was once fired from a teaching job in Louisiana because he refused to sign a loyalty oath. Lucinda was kicked out of high school for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

By Blogger Diane, at 2:40 PM  

Sounds like I'd really like her as a person. It's too bad my only glimpse wasn't a good one! I hope she wasn't drunk, but it really looked that way.

It sounds like she's had it rough, and that she lives life on her own terms, regardless of personal gain. That's indeed the kind of person I truly respect, no matter what sort of demons they're fighting.

Thanks for the extra info on Lucinda. I agree, the music of hers that I've heard is brilliant, indeed.

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