Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Ladies

I yam who i yam, but would not be so yammin' if it were not for the influential women in my life.

I guess I was just going along, listening to the Supremes and the Chiffon's and others. Aretha Franklin hit the scene and blew me away. So funky, so 150% emotion. I think she woke me out of the slumber of the sweet and nicely packaged music. Another great was Carla Thomas. I love her voice. I was kind of afraid of Nina Simone, did not appreciate her until later on- she is one of the great greats.

Joan Baez, Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithful gave me a taste of another world- where women were talented, forthright, fragile and kind. They weren't afraid to sing it out for everyone to know.

On the teen scene sprang Janis Ian singing " I learned the truth at 17" and it was so cold, so real. She was our Alanis Morrisette. Carlie Simon was also real- real, but more sophisticated and cool. Carole King was inspiring. Her music was very accessible and made me think I could write songs like she did.

I think the greatest influences came from Grace Slick, Jonie Mitchell (in a class by herself), Linda Ronstadt and Janis Joplin. I could listen to their songs over and over, sing along, and FEEL along with them. They were women- gutsy, outstanding, no holds barred, and I was paying attention. I started listening to Bonnie Raitt much later, only discovering Sweet Forgiveness in 1975. And when I saw Donna Godchaux singing with the Dead, I thought she was a Goddess!

My inspiration to play guitar came from Joan Armitrading. I will never forget listening to her first album. Somehow around 1975 I decided that I wanted to learn the bass.

Remember that at this time there were no role models. These were the originals, and I looked at them and took them in for what they were. There was no cynicism at the time as far as music went. I am grateful for that.

So looking back at 1972 now I feel much better about it all. It was not such a bad time after all. I was impressionable, open minded, directionless, but kind of grounded in a funny way. I attribute my sanity to music and the musicians that played for me.

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