And So Thanks Where Thanks Are Due

Namely, thank you Nina Gordon and Louise Post. For Veruca Salt. Even if it ceased to work out ages ago, and fell apart so awfully. For years, the fact I’d liked this pop band disguised with fuzzed out guitars as grunge had been a guilty secret. I don’t feel guilty about it anymore, though. If it hadn’t been for them, I realized music would never have reached inside and struck me the way it did. During my early childhood all the popular songs I came in contact with issued from Paula Abdul and Madonna and their ilk, hyper sexualized, with lyrics that granted no agency. The women I saw when I snuck peeks at MTV never played any instruments; they were only voices and gyrating bodies in videos. And then the 90’s came and you know what was different about Veruca Salt? These were women, who looked like people who played guitars instead of just singing, and it wasn’t all about being sexy for men. There were songs about relationships, breakups, men and whatnot, but with those guitars came power. And it wasn’t a matter that no women had done this before, rather one of my own limited scope. I never realized until today that this was the foundation for my musical tastes, and I never realized what a refuge it was, listening to music from other women’s perspectives instead of being hailed and addressed as some kind of “bitch goddess whore” to be alternately placed on a pedestal and then spat upon.

I remember my mother and father buying me my first CD for my fifteenth birthday. It was years and years after the album came out, and I had already gotten it on cassette. But my cassette was worn through, and I knew it wouldn’t survive many more listenings– and let’s face it, though I love technlogy, finances always prevent me from being an early adopter. Especially when as a teenager, one lacks a job to procure those finances. I searched through the bins at the music store looking, and at last, there it was, one last copy, American Thighs. It was not a feminist manifesto. But it rocked as hard as any of the music put out there by the boys, and it was finally, finally a pair of voices I could relate to.

My parents said, “You already have that on tape–are you sure you want to get this?”

Without skipping a beat, I answered, “Yes!” So I took it home, and listened through it again and again and again. “You’re going to laze the bumps off the damned disc,” my dad joked, as I got to the thirty-second time. It was among the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received.

So thank you, again, Nina Gordon and Louise Post. Thank you for paving the roads of my mind with chords and verses so that I could later find the back alleys that led, eventually, to Ani DiFranco. There were cobbled walks that led me, later still, to Le Tigre. Thank you for leading me down that road to that intersection– so when my head turned, I encountered Rasputina. Thank you for helping me get my feet under me, and all those times in putting my head on straight. Thank you for a beginning. I had to start somewhere.

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