One of the record stores at which I worked was immense – we stocked upwards of 90,000 CDs and had several different listening environments.
(the classical room was an excellent place to hideout and – on at least one occasion for a co-worker – provide a nook for a nap)
Most of the store was arranged in sections by genres that would be familiar to most folks who have spent time in a record store.
(back when they existed)
But, our store had one section, created at the discretion and insistence of Jen, our main buyer, that baffled us…
…the women’s music section.
None of us truly understood what the hell our buyer wanted stocked there.
To qualify, the artist had to possess xx chromosomes. Beyond that criteria, no one knew what determined whether (a then unknown) Sarah MacLachlan was filed in the rock section or the women’s music section.
Now, according to Wikipedia, women’s music is “music by women, for women, and about women” and Ladyslipper has been one of the major labels for the genre.
We did stock a good hundred or more titles by the label at any given time, but that definition doesn’t explain why Jen tried to migrate the Kate Bush UK releases from the import aisle to women’s music.
I’ve been a fan of Kate Bush since The Hounds Of Love and – though I suppose some of her work might resonate for me a bit more if I was a woman – I have found that having testicles hasn’t hindered my enjoyment of her music.
(and, at least in the case of her video for Babooshka, there might have been more resonance for me as a guy)
The women’s music section might have started out as “music by women, for women, and about women,” but what it actually became was music by women for Jen.
She had carved out her own, sovereign musical nation within our store – a breakaway republic populated by the music she loved.
(and, given enough time, I have no doubt that she would have somehow relocated Cheap Trick and The Raspberries – both bands were favorites of hers – into her utopian kingdom)
Here are four (mostly) random songs by female acts (or bands with with a considerable female presence)…
Siouxsie & The Banshees – Cities In Dust
from Twice Upon A Time: The Singles
One of the first songs by Siouxsie Sioux and company that I recall ever hearing, Cities In Dust is also one of their poppiest tracks.
(and there just haven’t been enough catchy songs about the destruction of Pompeii)
Ednaswap – Torn
The Los Angeles band Ednaswap’s name was, apparently, taken from a band that appeared in a dream by lead singer Anne Preven. Their self-titled debut from 1995 is slightly grungy with a twist of alternapop.
The band made little impact over the course of three albums, but Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia covered Torn several years after the track appeared on Ednaswap’s debut and her more polished version of the song became a global smash.
Personally, I think I prefer the more unvarnished original – which rocks a bit more – and Preven’s far more soulful pipes.
The Go-Go’s – Get Up And Go
The Go-Go’s ruled the world briefly when their 1981 debut Beauty And The Beat became one of the biggest selling albums of the following year and landed the all-female quintet on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The follow-up Vacation had not a chance of matching Beauty And The Beat, but the title track was destined to be an ’80s classic and it’s still a fun record.
And though it doesn’t have a chorus as memorable as their finest moments, the pounding Get Up And Go is a giddy delight.
The Tourists – I Only Want To Be With You
from Reality Effect
If you recognize the vocals on this version of the oft-covered I Only Want To Be With You, there’s good reason as it’s unmistakably Annie Lennox, who spent a few years as a member of The Tourists with one Dave Stewart.
Annie and Dave went on to fame as Eurythmics with a string of imaginative and evocative singles and several very, very good albums during the ’80s.