Saturday 9 March 2024

International Women’s Day, autism and wondering who is right

International Women's Day banner. It's purple and has photos of black and white women.

It was International Women’s Day yesterday, and I was cross about it. Again.

Even on normal days, I’m cross at the world (by which I mean, I suppose, society) a lot. Because it is often noisy and unfair, and is nearly always illogical.

I am particularly cross on International Women’s Day because it is particularly illogical. It makes no sense that a day which originated with grassroots activism is no longer anything to do with feminism.

Monday 22 January 2024

Mary Weiss, voice of the Shangri-Las (remember)

Mary Weiss from the Shangri-Las died on Friday, and I spent the weekend on YouTube remembering how good she was. 
I first heard the Shangri-las in 1972, when Leader of the Pack was re-released and became a hit again. I was 14.
I knew it was a “classic” because the Radio 1 DJs told me so. I knew I liked it.  I knew enough about pop music by then to know that the death-disc angle was corny, but I loved the girl-gang opening “By the way, where d’you meet him?” (As if that’s the first thing you’d say to someone with a dead boyfriend.) And I loved Mary Weiss’s hard, hurt vocal on the answer. 

Monday 18 December 2023

Women In Revolt: the thrill of women's rage

"Germ-free adolescents" collage.

Suzanne Moore wrote ten years about that women’s rage is “totally thrilling”. And she was right.

I saw the Women In Revolt exhibition at Tate Britain last week and I was totally thrilled.

Thursday 26 October 2023

Writing about pop as though it really mattered: music journalism and women

Screengrab from Wikipedia, with search results for "Lists of men in music". It says "Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name."Gatekeepers. All women know about them, whatever their job or chosen leisure activity. And the music business has always been one of the top villains. 

Within that crowded field, Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, recently emerged as an arch villain. In case you missed it, he put out a book of archive interviews which was full of old white blokes. When challenged about the lack of women said: “none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level”. And made a similar point about Black musicians. Prat.

The ensuing controversy even lost him his gig with the ever-irrelevant Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which isn’t exactly squeaky clean when it comes to ignoring minorities. 

So why am I writing about this now?

Monday 2 October 2023

Ear-altering sounds and personal stories

Book review: Sound Within Sound by Kate Molleson

This is the latest in my series of reviews of music books by women, specifically those that were longlisted for the 2022 Penderyn Music Book Prize. I think this going to be the hardest to write, because it’s outside my field of knowledge, but the book wasn’t hard to read because it is so well written.

I suspect that some books get listed (particularly in the case of memoir) because they tell a good story rather than for the quality of the writing. Sound Within Sound, though, qualifies as literature; Kate Molleson used to be a music critic, and her descriptions of how things sound are precise and poetic. But she tells a good story too – in fact, many good stories.