So I’ve been belatedly catching up on all the Dude Rock sturmdrang that seems to have started with two Ladypalooza guest posts from Silvana and K over at Tiger Beatdown:
- LADYPALOOZA PRESENTS: I Went To Your Concert and There Was Nothing Going On, or, A Meditation on Dude Music
- LADYPALOOZA PRESENTS: Why Can’t I Be Making Love Cause I’m In It? Or, The Phair/Cuomo Conundrum
In the first post Salvina reminisces on how the rock band she played in years ago made her feel that her opinions about anything they were doing and any music they liked to listen to OBVIOUSLY sucked because she was a GIRL (and also, women singers are just SO HARD TO LISTEN TO), in the second post K wonders why when a male singer/songwriter riffs on his own experiences in his songs it becomes a UNIVERSAL message that extrapolates the personal to an illumination of LIFE IN GENERAL, but when a female singer/songwriter riffs on her own experiences in her songs it becomes self-absorbed CONFESSIONAL diarising from a WEIRD ANGRY GIRL with no universal aspect whatsoever.
In other words, look at which singer/songwriters are widely described as “confessional” and which are widely described as “storyteller” and (a) count out how that falls out along gender lines and (b) come up with a meaningful difference between the two terms. The irony that the Confessional school of poetry from which the term derives was begun and popularised by men is just a delicious extra dollop of double standards here.
The whole Ladypalooza week at Tiger Beatdown looked at sexist double standards in the public reception of creative art from women and men. Sady Doyle posted on a similar vein at Feministe: (NOT REALLY A) WEEKEND ARTS SECTION: Manic Pixie Songwriting Dream Girls, A History in Youtube and Published Slur gives many details about how women with many-faceted musical and other creative accomplishments get their whole careers summarised by some quirky, “elfin” moment in general discussion.
Anyhoo, I thought it might be fun to just have a thread listing all the songs from male performers/songwriters that draw on personal experiences and which have not been widely described as “confessional” or “diarising”. Bonus internets points to anyone who can match that with a song by a woman (as K does with Phair/Cuomo) which covers almost exactly the same territory but which has not been widely described as “illuminating” the human condition.
Now (totally cheating by looking at a website of 100 most popular love songs for weddings) here’s a sample from male singer/songwriters of very personal, intimate lyrics about love which have not, to my knowledge, been regarded as “confessional” by most music critics:
And I Love Her……. The Beatles
Maybe I’m Amazed……. Paul McCartney
If I Fell……. The Beatles
Can You Feel the Love Tonight?…….Elton John
I Want to Know What Love Is……. Foreigner
When a Man Loves a Woman…….Percy Sledge
I Want You To Want Me……. George Michael/Wham!
Can’t Smile Without You……. Barry Manilow
More Than A Feeling…….Boston
I Just Called To Say I Love You…….Stevie Wonder
I Would Die 4 U…….Prince
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic……. The Police
I Just Want To Be Your Everything…….Andy Gibb (written by Barry)
I also note on that list (under Most Cheesy) are the songs Hopelessly Devoted To You and The Wind Beneath My Wings, which are both songs written by male songwriters (respectively John Farrar and Larry Henley/Jeff Silbarto) but most famously sung by women – what about the ways in which such songs are viewed when they are NOT written by the female performers themselves, and/or how men write songs meant to reveal the emotions of women? Does anyone know whether The Wind Beneath My Wings was reviewed differently when it was first recorded by Roger Whitaker in 1982 before it became a hit in 1983 for Gladys Knight and then was an even bigger hit in 1989 for Bette Midler?
Of course, these songs are all Celebrating love – what about those Weird and Angry songs that so many women are accused of writing nothing but? What sort of Weird and Angry (or just Confused) songs by men have been celebrated as illuminations of the human condition (or at least not just dismissed as being self-absorbed TMI)? Google helpfully suggested “angry songs about breaking up” from which I have extracted just these few from a single link on the first page of results:
Here’s a quarter call someone who cares – Travis Tritt
She’s Gone – Hall & Oates
Love Bites – Def Leppard
Already Gone – The Eagles
Goodbye – Gravity Kills
In The End – Linkin Park
What jumps to mind for you?