Nathan and I were sending each other favourite songs this morning. This is a thing that we do fairly often – pretty much anytime one of us thinks of something the other should listen to, and then it’s impossible to avoid the rabbit hole that is Songs Nathan Knows – but today we were only sending songs with female vocalists, in honour of International Women’s Day.
And then I had a genius idea.
Me: OH MY GOD NATHAN CAN WE PUT A WOMEN’S DAY PLAYLIST TOGETHER ON MY BLOG PLEASE
Nathan: I think I can manage that, but we have to include an Against Me! song.
We were originally aiming for fifty songs, but we somehow ended up with nearly three times that number. So you get SIX DAYS worth of posts about lady music instead of just one. Aren’t you lucky?
But why songs sung by women? I mean, International Women’s Day aside, what’s the appeal?
Personally, I’ve always preferred female musicians, probably at least in part because it’s easier for me to sing along with them. I’m also far more likely to identify with what they’re singing about – I’m a sucker for a good song about struggling to get through tough times, or a weepy hymn to heartbreak, or an empowering lady anthem. There’s something else, though, about a woman’s voice that’s hard to articulate. It gets right down into you, and it’s hard to shake loose. Women’s voices have teeth.
Nearly all of my earliest musical memories are of female musicians. My father had an extensive record collection, and I found my first favourites there – singers like Tracy Chapman, Cyndi Lauper and Michelle Shocked. I memorized all the lyrics to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, and my parents found it hilarious that I sang, “I wanna feel the heap with somebody,” instead of “I wanna feel the heat with somebody.” Listening to music meant time with my father, and it was an activity that he took very seriously. To this day, I can count on one hand the number of people who listen to music as thoughtfully and as deeply as he did – my grandfather is one of them, and Nathan is another. Even I’m not on this list because, as much as I love music, I don’t seem to have quite the same ability to become as thoroughly absorbed in a song as they do.
Listening to music with my father was a sort of transcendent experience. He always had a stick of incense burning while we listened, so my memories of these times are all wrapped up in a thick, sweet, smoky smell. His record player was in the basement, so it was always cool and dim, a perfect sonic atmosphere. I would watch reverently as my father placed the record on the turntable and carefully placed the needle. The two of us would sit in silence through the static hiss of the first few seconds, and then once the music came on we were immediately both lost in it. I think that listening to music was the closest my father, a lifelong atheist, ever came to having a religious experience.
Here are the first twenty five songs. Enjoy!
1. Haim – The Wire
2. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
3. Howling Bells – Low Happening
4. Torres – Moon & Back
5. Marnie Stern – Every Single Line Means Something
6. Le Tigre – Deceptacon
7. Blonge RedHead – Falling Man
8. Lykke Li – Sadness Is A Blessing
9. Yuna – I Wanna Go
10. Waxahatchee – Dixie Cups and Jars
11. Heartless Bastards – Mountain
12. Dum Dum Girls – Coming Down
13. St. Vincent – Save Me From What I Want
14. Russian Red – Cigarettes
15. London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years
16. Joan As Police Woman – How Come You’re Solid Gold
17. CHVRCHES – Recover
18. Bat For Lashes – Prescilla
19. Azure Ray – Scattered Like Leaves
20. Coeur De Pirate – Place de la République
21. Postiljonen – All That We Had Is Lost
22. Broadcast – Subject To The Ladder
23. Lianne La Havas – No Room For Doubt
24. EMA – California
25. Slow Club – Beginners
(BONUS – DANIEL RADCLIFFE IS IN THIS VIDEO)