music icon

I met Cris Williamson this past weekend, thanks to my friends Kiya & Miriam. Although I was aware of Cris and her importance in women’s music, I had not listened to her much. Her best-selling album The Changer and the Changed was released the year I was born. I didn’t even know that women’s music existed until 1996-ish, and by then it was virtually gone. There are still some remnants of it, but women (mostly lesbian) musicians and fans don’t need it now like they did in the 1970s. Meeting Cris in that context was…interesting. I have tremendous respect for her.

One question that resulted from that meeting is: Who is the icon for 20-something women? The only women musicians I can think of for my generation are in their 30s (Ani DiFranco, for example). I can’t think of a 20-something woman musician who has influenced her peers in the way that Cris did for her peers in the late 70s.

don’t lay that shit on me

Second-wave feminists in the late 60’s and early 70’s had a rock and roll voice, sung by bands such as the Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands.

The Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands and Le Tigre – Papa, Don’t Lay That Shit On Me

Second-wave feminists in the late 60’s and early 70’s had a rock and roll voice, sung by bands such as the Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands. Precursors to today’s riot grrl and queercore bands, they broke through and gave women in the liberation movements their own rock and roll anthems.

In 1972, Rounder released a record called Mountain Moving Day consisting of four songs each from the Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands. It was an attempt to capture the power of their live performances, and neither band was experienced with recording in a studio. This shows through in the roughness of the arrangements, but only if one is looking for it. The power of their songs and the statements they made to women and rock goes beyond these technical issues.

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