05 December 2010

Just call me shameless

I have had a hell of a long relationship with Ani DiFranco's music. I bought my first Ani CD in 1996 (new, in fact, to the CONCEPT of CD-buying, as I'd only had a CD player for 3 years and primarily listened to the Beatles and mix tapes).

I bought "Out of Range" on a whim - I was hanging out in a music store where a friend worked. He knew that I liked Tori Amos, Concrete Blonde, Nine Inch Nails, and Leonard Cohen. Basically, he knew I was pretty open to what I was listening to. He threw a used copy of "Out of Range" in my pile and offered to give me an extra $2 off if I'd give it a shot.

Weirdly, the first time I listened to the album, I wasn't really feeling it. I shrugged, figured I'd only spent $7 on it, and threw it in the pile. It wasn't until about six months later, that summer, when I was probably sulking in my room and trying to figure out what to do that night, that I put in the album and it just ... clicked.

Thank god I fell in love with Ani DiFranco's music when I was angry 16-year old with access to the internet, because I immediately fell as much in love with her politics and her story as I did with the music. When Ani DiFranco started making music at 18, she made the conscious decision to not play the major label game. As a teenager, she started Righteous Babe Records and released her own music, on her own terms. And, as the label grew and as her fame grew, she picked up other artists, spoken word artists, and old anarchists like Utah Phillips and released their albums, too.

Here she was, a young, openly-queer woman who had said "fuck it" and MADE IT WORK.

I think that was the primary draw for me, a young, not-openly-queer, feminist girl in Montana who just wanted people who understood.

Ani and I have had an off-and-on musical relationship since then - not because "her old stuff is better" or any nonsense like that, but because I have moments in my life where acoustic feminist alt-punk-folk-rock is more and less my thing.

Ani DiFranco will always be summers, driving the first car I'd ever owned with the windows down, singing along at the top of my lungs. Today is an Ani DiFranco day. I want to dig out my old CDs and spend the day listening to feminist music and build a little bubble around myself to remind myself what that feels like.


  1. "Out of Range" was also my first Ani album, given to me by my best friend, the one that got a motorcycle and inspired me to be brave enough to do so. The song "Gravel" was like an anthem.

  2. God, I love that song. I think my anthem, at the time, was "If He Tries Anything".