Righteous Babe

Ani DiFranco (album)

Image via Wikipedia

There are several bands that I’ve followed for the best part of two decades (in some cases three) and I guess on my bucket list I’d like to see some of them live at some time.

I managed to tick The Cure from that list a couple of years ago, going to a concert of theirs in Melbourne a couple of years ago.  I drove to that concert from Ballarat with a guy who confided to me that he also had tickets to an Indigo Girls concert a few weeks afterwards.  A conversation he concluded with, “I hope I get out alive alive”.  (For the uninitiated the Indigo Girls have a reputation for some fairly rabid feminist sentiment).

And I smirked to myself and though I’d be saying the same thing if I confessed that an Ani di Franco concert is on the same bucket list as The Cure.

In fact I have good reason to suspect a lone male going into that environment might feel somewhat out of place.  Ani DiFranco herself references it herself in a live album of hers, the beautifully titled “So much Shouting So much Laughter”.

Amid a chorus of feminine squeals she talks about bumping into boyfriends of her fans after her show who sidle up to her saying “Um it kinda wasn’t bad you know, and I made it”.

On the surface of things, Ani DiFranco is not exactly someone who would strike you as musical fodder of someone who made it through high school as an integral part of the sport-loving, testosterone fuelled jock sub-culture.  But then when I was 17 I was listening to Prince’s Lovesexy, complete with Prince nude on the cover.  At odds with the blokes who were getting off on cock rock from Guns and Roses, Bon Jovi and Warrant.


Up Up Up Up Up Up

I became intrigued with Ani DiFranco after listening to an interview with her on Triple J in 1999.  I was in the middle of a 100 acre paddock of fledgling watermelon plants, trawling up and down rows, chipping weeds under a centre pivot.  She was promoting her latest album Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up.


The interview was typical of the raw and unapologetic political and sexual passion of Ani Di Franco and it was the passion that drove me to buy Up+.  Whereupon I fell in love with songs like “Angry Anymore” and ‘Tis of thee”, a punctuation mark on the 1990s, a decade where a lot of the music was angst-ridden in response to the vacuous 1980s and the long-term recession that blighted the first half of the last decade of the Millennium.

So I stuck with Ani, as unfashionable as it is for a male to listen to an overtly angry and militant spokeswoman for the modern feminist.  In the early part of the Twentieth Century it seemed Ani’s brazen political outspokenness was a rare voice of reason amidst the neo-conservative madness that saw the Department of Homeland Security spring up in the USA at a time where its armies were sent out to murder up to one hundred thousand Iraqi innocents in the search for mythical weapons of mass destruction.

Take a listen to the flowing poetry of “Self evident”, surely a touchstone for the 2002/3 era where it seemed like the growing power of the Homeland Security push would be enough even to see someone like Ani DiFranco shut down as an enemy of the State.  A rambling but poignant expose of the travesty of democracy that saw George W Bush installed to the Presidency, and his subsequent bumbling inadequacy in the face of the attacks on September 11 2001.

cuz take away our playstations
and we are a third world nation
under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
who stole the oval office and that phony election
I mean
it don’t take a weatherman
to look around and see the weather
Jeb said he’d deliver Florida, folks
and boy did he ever

and we hold these truths to be self evident:
#1 George W. Bush is not president
#2 America is not a true democracy
#3 the media is not fooling me
cuz I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
I’ve got no room for a lie so verbose
I’m looking out over my whole human family
and I’m raising my glass in a toast

Ani’s folky funk references Prince but it’s the raw and unadulterated mix of anger and passion in her lyrics that has kept me coming back for more.  Her music company is called “Righteous Babe” but it’s her righteous anger that smokes and simmers in her prolific releases.  I’m a sucker for heartfelt passion I’m afraid.


4 Responses to Righteous Babe

  1. Jenni says:

    nice one – lurve Ani …..a great read!

  2. stopping by from the other side of the world and pleased to find a fellow ani-loving, Jesus-seeking, camp dwelling pilgrim in the blogosphere!

    great read! and i think the world could stand a few more ani fans–and feminists–no matter their gender;)

  3. Pingback: Ani DiFranco performs “Both Hands” live! « LOFT965

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