Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A sound they don't want you to own

The news broke for me today at 2:28 PM, in text message form--the musical equivalent of "yr beloved childhood friend/relative/golden retriever Sunshine passed away":


I practically ran out of work, took a deep breath and began making the necessary phone calls. I called Anjanette about 8 times, even though I knew that her phone was broken and she couldn't pick it up.

It's very hard to verbalize what this band has meant to me, how deeply they have influenced my appreciation of music and music history. Seeing them play has made me proud to be a woman, a feminist, queer, and alive, but most of all, it has reminded me that there are others out there for whom music is not just a status symbol or fashion accessory or excuse to get drunk on a Tuesday night. Watching them jump and scream and hammer at axes and drum kits it was always beautifully, vividly apparent that to them, music was a matter of life and hope and breath, not haircuts and scenester posturing.

Rob Mitchum once described Sleater-Kinney as "obliterat[ing] the gender card," and that is exactly what they did. After a certain point in their development, they refused to talk about how being women influenced their musicianship--refused, that is, to be seen as anything other than a band, full stop. And strangely, that turned out to be as feminist an accomplishment as anything they wrangled circa Call the Doctor and s/t. Because while we absolutely, urgently need people like Le Tigre talking explicitly about feminism and insisting that their experiences as (marginalized, queer, abused, objectified) women inform their lives and music, we also need bands exploding the girl ghetto and proving that there is nothing inherently male about rock virtuosity and prowess. We need Janet schooling Bonham. We need Corin unfurling R. Plant soul-howls. We need Carrie windmilling and leaping off monitors and pouring out 1/16 notes with eyes-closed fury and abandon and release, making roomfuls of 30-year-old crit boys ask, "Pete Townshend was who again?" Because when that happens, the still-solid glacier of misogynist rock tradition melts just a little, and gets that much more reappropriable for those of us who were never going to be yr mama or smile pretty, take take the money.

now do you hear that sound
as the model breaks?
take the stage

let the image of him fade away
go back and tear the pictures from the page
it's time for a new rock n' roll age
history will have to find a different face

and if you're ready for more
I just might be what you're looking for

Sleater-Kinney were what we were looking for. After August 11th, we'll have to find it somewhere else.

Lady Mairead delivers a fine eulogy here.

1 comment:

mairead said...

i get it i get it tres bien.

all's i got is a promise: we can be old and gray, denny's golden menu-style, and rock joey ramone in the parking lot. you and i and bex, post-pancakes. s-k 4eva, in a way. i promise you this.