I promise I won’t make a habit of this—and sure, there must be thousands more sites where this came from—but here’s a great list of 17 feminist songs that were ahead of their time. All the more important under the current assaults on what should be common sense, and the major role of women in leading the protests.
However can I have missed You don’t own me? (Lesley Gore, 1963) all this time? Or at least, how did I miss the 1964 cover by Dusty Springfield?
I’m finally getting why people get so hooked on Country (like you do on the suites of north Chinese shawm bands. Possibly.)—it’s good to see it featuring so strongly here. Kitty Wells, and Dolly Parton—feminist in, um, plain clothes…
How good to include Ethel Smyth’s 1910 suffragette anthem!
(Hmm, given that one seeks to discard outmoded gendered nouns, the term “suffragette” seems a bit ironic… BTW, you don’t hear much about “usherettes” these days, eh? They were a vital part of the Away from it all cinema experience)
But how did I will survive (1978) not get onto the list? Anyway, here it is…
And here’s an updated list “to get you hyped for the women’s march“.
To return to country: of course, the antithesis of all this is Stand by your man (1968, not great timing), but it’s still a great song, somehow—as long as you ignore the lyrics…
Tammy Wynette spent most of her life vainly trying to defend it. Here’s some more “negative teaching material”—with this quote (despite its opening demurral) she just digged herself further into a patriarchal hole:
Personally, I’m not particularly fond of the thought of digging ditches or climbing telephone poles. I’d rather stick with something a little more feminine. I wouldn’t want to lose the little courtesies that we’ve always been extended, like lighting cigarettes and opening doors, and pulling out chairs and things like that. I enjoy that. I guess I just enjoy being a woman.
Oops. Retired Rear Admiral James Foley—so retired he’s dead—will be nodding his head wisely and playfully slapping her cute lil’ ass.
At the time I may not have clocked You don’t own me, but at least I was aware of Dusty Springfield (!).* Digressing only a tad from the feminist path, I do vividly remember Cilla’s Anyone who had a heart (1964, her cover of Dionne Warwick’s 1963 version)—but great as both are, you must hear Sheridan Smith’s astounding cover (from the 2014 TV series Cilla):
The sheer creative energy of music in the often-discredited 1960s is an endless topic. But we can always put in wider context—not just civil rights and hippies, but further afield, in Nigeria, or the ongoing struggles of Eastern Europe… And ritual specialists in Chinese villages!
* My friend Rowan points out wisely that I’ve never been aware of anything at the time. Now I’m still living in the past, for all my so-called “contemporary ethnography”…