Reflections On Female Singer Songwriters and Women’s Rights On the 95th Anniversary of the Right to Vote

95 years ago today, women gained the right to vote.  Although it is better than before, women still only earn roughly $0.77 for every $1.00 earned by their male counterparts.  Women’s reproductive rights are still under attack by conservative religious groups.

I think you can get a sense of how just a culture is by it treatment of women.  While there are cultures that are far worse than ours, I would nominate any that perform female genital mutilation, for instance, we still have a long way to go.

As a musician, a lot of my heroes are women.  Joni Mitchell’s body of work is as impressive as anyone’s.  Kirsty MacColl, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and on and on, have written songs that are poetically profound, that leave most male songwriters in the dust.  Marianne Faithfull, as an interpreter of songs, is the equal of any man.  Yet often critics and writers label them all as female songwriters, or female singers, in a way that imply that they are playing in a different game than the men.  While it is correct to call someone like Mitchell a female songwriter, to say she is a great “female” songwriter is incorrect.  Her work dwarfs all but the very best male songwriters and one can even argue that she is the most unique songwriter from this continent in the last 100 years.  While someone like Dylan combined different forms in unique ways and infused them with a new sense of language, Mitchell almost seems to have created new forms entirely.  There is a reason a lot of the serious jazz guys wanted to play with her.  O’Connor was right about the abuse taking place in the Catholic church and was vilified for being brave enough to say something.  Sainte-Marie was blacklisted by President Johnson for speaking her mind in the American Indian Movement.

Anyone that says women aren’t as capable, intelligent, and brave as men should be laughed at outright.  There are physical biological differences, but even these aren’t definitive.  I’d hate to be thrown in the ring with Ronda Rousey!

Whenever you see something politically that is anti-women, it comes out of the outdated idea of the patriarchy.  But we should be smart enough at this point in history to know that respect shouldn’t be given, it should be earned.  It’s no wonder that some men want to cling to the kind of traditions that bestow power only due to the sex of their birth.  Control is a hard thing to give away.  But an idea is either a good idea or a bad one, based on its own merit and the way it holds up to reason.  With our environment going into the dumps, with endless war, with income inequality exploding haven’t us males done enough damage? I, at least, am ready for new ideas.  If a female can solve those issues, then I say have at it.

It’s far beyond time that we welcomed women as equals in all aspects of our society.  It’s not only the morally correct thing to do and the intelligent thing to do, but with the current state of the world, we are going to need everyone rowing!  So cast aside Medieval religious ideas and barbaric social orders that threaten to drag us under like quicksand.  More now than ever, with problems that are on a global scale, the old order that puts us in groups is going to lead to our demise.  As Kurt Vonnegut once said, when talking about the meaning of life, “We’re here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

More Posts On Joni Mitchell Include: The Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)






Why it is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times On TV

Why it is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times On TV

The above article at Salon is an interesting look at the economics of modern television.  Obviously, when they are looking at the future of anything, it is somewhat of a guessing game, if here at least one that seems to have some statistics to back it.  However, I think one thing that everyone needs to understand is that we get the kind of culture that we support.  We can either view culture as a public good and support at least part of it as a community, or we can view it as something that should live or die by the market.  Right now it is economically viable for a lot of great television to be made, and a lot of bad television.  I think that other art forms, for a number of reasons, are suffering compared to other times in our history.

True Detective On Religion

Ever since finishing True Detective Season 2 recently, I have been rewetting scenes from Season 1.  This is a great scene where the two main characters discuss religion and its role in society.  Even if you are not a fan of either season, there is a great philosophical discussion at the heart of this scene.

More Posts On True Detective Include: True Detective Season 2 Review

Don’t Shut Up, Still Sing

I was just watching several clips of Morrissey on Larry King Now.  I haven’t watched the full program yet.  I will link to it when a link to the whole piece is available.  I was reading some comments somewhere, always a mistake, and someone commented the usual idiotic drivel about, and this could be directed at any number of entertainers, that he should just focus on singing and leave the politics to the “experts”.  But when the “experts” are just as often fuck puppets for corporations spouting buzzword tested groupthink, and not those who have thoughtfully examined a political situation from all angles, is that really what you want?

For entertainers, like all people in all professions, can run the gamut of human intelligence.  Plus someone like Morrissey (or Jackson Browne, Chuck D, Bruce Springsteen, etc.), is extremely well-read, well-traveled, and has spent a great amount of time talking to people of all stripes, often including many of those that actually have some say in our culture.  While many entertainers are grown-children that remain vain mutants, boxed off from reality in a prison of sycophancy, there are often those that are trying to make real sense of this strange world.

It is never who someone is that should make us listen to them.  It is the strength of their argument and the thoughtfulness of their thinking.  Many of us have worked jobs where someone in management or some other position of power hasn’t gotten a clue.  Do you not think that this doesn’t happen sometimes at even higher levels?  Also, the human brain is like a muscle, just because someone has exercised one part of it thoroughly doesn’t mean that the other parts have received the proper conditioning.  A brilliant doctor doesn’t make someone a great thinker when it comes to socio-economic arguments.  Being an entertainer, even if they have traveled and met with people of power, like any other profession, doesn’t make someone smarter, but it doesn’t cancel out what they have to say either.  Meanwhile an entertainer, if they do have a curious mind and a rigorous thought process, very well might have insights that are worth listening to.

But anyone that knows anything knows this.  It is only the daft, those with closed minds, who don’t want their world view inconvenienced, who would say otherwise.  So I say don’t shut up and still sing.

I personally like my entertainment barbed with things like ideas.  Not all of the time, but often, I want my music to be like an intellectual boxing match.  I want to be pushed to the limit and challenged.  And if I get tired of that, and need to turn off the mind for awhile to relax, I can put on some Ted Nugent, and give myself a temporary lobotomy…


Walker Apes Trump: The Abyss of Spectacle

I always make a brief stop over at Huffington Post in the morning, just to get a brief glimpse of the headlines.  (Huffpo is often lacking in depth, but is a great place to just get a sense of what people are talking about.)  Today’s headline, which is actually from a Washington Post article, is about how, “Walker Apes Trump.”

Just seeing those three simple words in the morning makes you feel like someone has just vacuumed out your soul.  The mind and the heart have turned to dust and have been blown away into an ancient void.  Is Huffpo participating in voter suppression?  Do they want people like me to give up paying attention to politics for crack cocaine and kazoo lessons?

If there is anyone that can make Donald Trump look brilliant, it is Scott Walker.  How did we get to this point?  Trump looks like a space god bringing fire to man next to Scott Walker’s monkey-see-monkey-do routine.  And we all know that Trump is just a rich kid that got lucky a few times and whose boneheaded bravado is perfect for the bar lowering of reality TV.  Everyone wants to line up to see the freaks.

I know the election is far away, to not get too invested in anything.  I know that the political landscape should look vastly different by next year.  And the truth is I am sort of enjoying this clash of the mutants.  But every once in awhile the reality of the situation hits me and I realize how we must look to the rest of the world.  It’s like we’re a cross between a World Wrestling match and a gladiator bout at the Coliseum, gaudy clowns that actually do destroy other people for the benefit of a few and the entertainment of many.

If you need hope, in the midst of this insanity, know that in several ways our country has gotten more tolerant and fair over the last several years.  It’s a long ugly grind up the mountain, but things are slowly getting better in certain ways, if you pay attention to the long arc of history.  The question is, with the environment melting down, with more and more wealth being transferred to the few, can we get to the top before time runs out?  Or will we get sucked into the abyss of spectacle before before the final bell tolls?

More Posts On Scott Walker Include:  Scott Walker and the Fate of the Union

More Posts On Donald Trump Include:  Donald Trump Will Turn Your Mind Into Rat Soup


“This is a Night for Americans!” – Republican Version 2015

billthebutcher flag

I was reading the article over at Huffpo about how certain Republicans want to repeal the 14th Amendment, ending birthright citizenship.  I started thinking about the film Gangs of New York, where Daniel Day Lewis’s character, Bill the Butcher, represents nativist sentiment in America at that time.  Only at that time Hispanics weren’t the target, but Irish Roman Catholics.  Here is a brief history of nativism in the United States over at wikipedia.  My family, going back, was partially Irish Roman Catholic.  The groups that are deemed outsiders change, but the story remains the same.  Certain groups think that they have more of a right to America than others.  Sure, there needs to be some kind of fair and sane way to bring new groups into America, to make them part of the social fabric of the country, but that is far different than what shenanigans the Republicans constantly seem up to.  Not only is the Republican strategy a losing one over the longterm, but don’t those at the base level realize they are part of a long line of people that lost out in the end, only to see the group they demonize enter the American mainstream? I’m sure once it becomes politically untenable to demonize Hispanics there will be some new group to suit their need to divide.

This is a long serving and predictable political tactic, to divide and conquer, bait and switch.  A group in economic power will make groups with less economic power fight it out, so that those groups don’t unite and take a larger slice of the pie.  Income inequality goes up, and poor whites, many that are of Irish, German, and Italian descent, all of which are groups that were scapgoated in the past, are lead to believe that it is poor Hispanics that are destroying their way of life.

Republicans will scream some version of Bill the Butcher’s line in Gangs of New York, “This is a night for Americans!”  But which Americans are the ones really winning out by such a thing?

John Oliver Tonight: Televangelists

I spent last night catching up on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.  It’s consistently amazing.  Last night he took on televangelists, even going as far to create a tax-exempt organization in the name of “religion”.

I have seen some of these televangelists on TV late at night while I was out on tour.  They are even more unbelievable when you encounter them in their natural habitat, not expecting them, wondering if they are a parody.  In Oklahoma I saw like three of them on television in one night.  Holy shitballs!

More Posts On John Oliver Include: John Oliver On Torture

Inside the GOP Clown Car

The thing is, when you actually think about it, it’s not funny. Given what’s at stake, it’s more like the opposite, like the first sign of the collapse of the United States as a global superpower. Twenty years from now, when we’re all living like prehistory hominids and hunting rats with sticks, we’ll probably look back at this moment as the beginning of the end.

In the meantime, though, the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination sure seems funny. The event known around the world as hashtagGOPClownCar is improbable, colossal, spectacular and shocking; epic, monumental, heinous and disgusting. It’s like watching 17 platypuses try to mount the queen of England. You can’t tear your eyes away from it.

– Matt Taibbi

I don’t mean to link to so many Matt Taibbi articles.  Except, when he really hits his stride, he really makes me laugh like few other political commentators do.  He also able to do this while getting to essential truths about the strange nature of our current political system.  His latest Rolling Stone article is a must read.

Read the rest of the article here.

More Posts On Republicans Included: White Anglo Saxon Republicans – What Are They Good For?

Book Stores: Convenience Vs. Community

I got in late last night from tour.  In two days we drove from Challis, Idaho to Austin, Texas.  I feel more animal than man, but I will try my best to write regardless.  While on tour I immersed myself in books and records, as a partying a great deal isn’t really an option anymore.  While I was in Taos, New Mexico, I stopped At Broadsky Bookshop, a small independent bookstore that sells mostly used books.  Usually when I go shopping for books I have a good idea what I am looking for.  However, on tour I finished one of my books much faster than I thought I would.  It was great to talk to someone that had read a lot, that wasn’t just working for a paycheck, but that seemed to have a general love of reading.  I had only about 30 minutes before I had to get to the van for departure, and with a short explanation on the kind of things I like to read I was soon headed out the door with two great books.  (In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.)

I couldn’t help but wonder what we lose for the sake of convenience.  A book store like this wasn’t going to have the large selection of a chain store, or the limitless selection of going to Amazon.  However, I ended up with two things that I liked that I might not have found on my own.  The store also had what seemed like a sizable selection of books that were of regional interest.  It seemed like it was part of the community instead of something invading it.

Look, I am as guilty as anyone for often choosing convenience over community.  There are also times when we may want something obscure that can’t be found at the shop down the street.  However, I understand that in a capitalist society we vote with our dollar.  When we go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble over the local bookshop, we are voting for the former over the latter. There are all kinds of economic cultural arguments that one could make on why it is more important to vote with our money for the homegrown store over the corporate giant.

Those would be valid arguments, but another argument can be made as well; A well versed local merchant might expand our reach, might open us up to new ideas, in a way that might not happen otherwise.  Often when I look for something I am looking to get something guaranteed to satisfy, as money is tight.  If I don’t know what I am looking for I might ask a friend whose opinion I trust, but that can be limiting in its own way, as friends by nature often run in similar circles.  Whereas someone that sells books, or any kind of art, because it is there passion, might be able to provide a window into a completely new world for us.  I now know things that I otherwise wouldn’t if I had not walked into that store on that day.

I’m not here to say that one experience is completely better than the other.  There are benefits to having more options.  But we also risk losing something if we always put convenience first. As well as sending money outside of our communities and possibly diminishing places that can serve as a hub for knowledge, we risk some possibility for chance, for new ideas to enter into our lives by accident.  I think in its own way there is a kind of magic in that.

More posts on books: 80 Best Books of All Time