Tag Archives: kacey musgraves

Women in Music: Musgraves, Mitski, and Marina

27 Mar

I have been a music enthusiast for a long time, so I must confess that I have been tracking all the songs I have listened to since 2005(!). The great thing about that is that I can follow changes in my listening habits and taste through time. One interesting pattern I’ve noticed is that I have shifted from listening to bands mostly fronted by men to a diverse range of female artists. In fact, my top 10 last year was almost exclusively female!

And so with that, I’d like to celebrate Women’s History Month by sharing with you a few albums by women that I really love.

Kacey Musgraves – “Golden Hour”
Golden Hour
You may have heard of this album if you pay any attention to the Grammys. I usually don’t, but I was very pleased to hear it had won Album of the Year, which it absolutely deserved. It was definitely my top album of 2018! I don’t usually listen to country music, but I had heard praise from other artists about it, so I decided to check it out. I am so glad I did. “Golden Hour” is a beautiful album, with soundscapes that remind me of spring, of looking up at cherry blossoms against a blue sky. It’s an album about appreciating love and the beauty of the world, as well as a reminder that our time on this earth is fleeting. Just like cherry blossoms! If you’re not a fan of country, fear not. “Golden Hour” veers slightly toward a pop sound, without sounding forced or cheesy.

Standout tracks: “High Horse”, “Oh What a World”, “Butterflies”  Hoboken Card Holders stream them now on Hoopla.

Mitski – “Puberty 2”
Mitski
Let’s move on to rock. Last year, Mitski made a buzz with her new album “Be the Cowboy”. I instantly became addicted to it, with its short, insanely catchy tunes. I had heard of Mitski before, but I had not been able to really get into her music. After “Be the Cowboy”, I decided to go through her back catalog and give her old stuff another chance. A great decision!

Puberty 2” was released in 2016 and has a much more raw rock sound. What I love the most about Mitski is her incredible songwriting. In the opening track, “Happy” she personifies the feeling of happiness, who comes to visit her and “brought cookies along the way”. After the first chorus, Mitski sings:

I was in the bathroom / I didn’t hear him leave / I locked the door behind him and I turned around to see / All the cookie wrappers and the empty cups of tea / Well I sighed and mumbled to myself / Again I have to clean

I found the imagery delightful. You can find lyrics like these all throughout the album. Here’s another example from the final track “A Burning Hill”

I am a forest fire / And I am the fire and I am the forest / And I am a witness watching it

Add to that loud guitars and haunting melodies, and you have yourself an album worthy of the repeat button. Don’t be like me. Give it the good listen it deserves the first time around!

Standout tracks: “Your Best American Girl”, “I Bet on Losing Dogs”, “Happy”

Marina and the Diamonds – “Froot”
Froot
Coincidentally, this album also opens with a track titled “Happy”. Whereas Mitski lamented the fact that Happy had left her, Marina welcomes its arrival at last. Marina (who has dropped “and the Diamonds” from her name this year) is a talented pop artist, with a heavenly voice and astute songwriting. While awaiting her new release later this year, I have been revisiting “Froot”, her album from 2015. Compared to her previous work, it’s a bit more reflective, so if you’re looking for a dose of catchy pop, without it being too saccharine or mainstream, this is the album for you. Her ballads are gorgeous and her upbeat tracks will have you singing along in the shower. Seriously, try not to sing along to “Froot”, with its groovy beats and clever wordplay, I dare you!

Standout tracks: “Froot”, “Blue”, “Savages”  Check out the digital album from Hoopla.

You can also check out more music by powerful women recommended by our fellow BCCLS librarian on the BCCLS Read, Watch, Listen blog.

What are your favorite albums by women?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by:
Samantha Evaristo
Library Outreach Assistant

Inspired By: The Dixie Chicks

22 Jun

Last week I saw the Dixie Chicks at Madison Square Garden. This was a concert I have been waiting to see for more than a decade!

The show was excellent and I was thrilled to hear and sing along to my favorite Dixie Chicks songs. I left the show humming “Cowboy Take Me Away”, and carrying a souvenir tote bag printed with a line from the song “Not Ready To Make Nice”.

I also left inspired to write about my favorite tracks from the Dixie Chicks’ catalog, as well as some other related music inspired by the concert.

Fly

How did a girl born and raised in Hudson County where “Wide Open Spaces” are a foreign concept come to love the Dixie Chicks? MTV, of course! The year was 1999 and I saw the music video for “Goodbye Earl” from the Chicks’ sophomore album Fly (available on CD and streaming in Freegal).

fly

Mary Ann and Wanda getting the ultimate revenge on the Wanda’s abusive* ex-husband Earl appealed to me as a baby feminist.

You can watch the video on YouTube of course and Freegal, sans commercials. Dear reader, please don’t try anything from the video at home–poisoning people is never a good idea.

Some other choice tracks from Fly:

  • “Cowboy Take Me Away”
  • “Cold Day In July”
  • “Hole In My Head”
  • “Sin Wagon”
  • “If I Fall You’re Going Down With Me”–my very favorite. I had hoped to hear this at the concert, but sadly it wasn’t on the set list. 😦

Wide Open Spaces

wide-open-spaces

The Dixie Chicks’ first album was Wide Open Spaces, released in 1998. (CD and Freegal) The title track of this record is now an anthem for women who want to spread their wings and leave home, but I am partial to “There’s Your Trouble”.

Home

home

The album Home (CD and Freegal) came out in 2002, and includes a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”. There are some sadder, more introspective songs on this record, such as “Traveling Soldier” and “Top of the World”, but “White Trash Wedding” brings levity. I think that the brash “Truth No. 2” was a precursor to the music the Dixie Chicks would make on Taking the Long Way.

Shut Up & Sing

shut-up-sing

The Dixie Chicks found controversy in 2004 when lead singer Natalie Maines made a negative statement about then President George W. Bush, which brought intense criticism and backlash from the country music community. The documentary Shut Up & Sing covers this period of the Chicks’ history.

Taking the Long Way

taking-long-way

From that turmoil came the Grammy-winning Taking the Long Way (CD and Freegal). This album was a game changer, and it is my favorite. This is a rare album I can listen to all the way through without skipping around.

Excellent tracks:

  • “Not Ready To Make Nice”
  • “Taking the Long Way”
  • “Easy Silence”
  • “Baby Hold On”
  • “Everybody Knows”

Sing “Lullaby” to your loved one, your baby, your teenager, your bae, your pet, or whomever you please.

Whenever anyone asks me, “Kerry, why haven’t you [insert milestone that others think I should have reached by now] yet?” I answer that I’m “Taking the Long Way”. Thank you, Dixie Chicks, for helping me answer that nosy but usually well meaning question!

Dixie Chicks Miscellany

If you want to dive deeper into the Dixie Chicks’ music, I recommend borrowing on DVD their VH1 Storytellers episode, where they tell the origin stories of some of their songs. I love to hear about artists’ inspirations for their work. Check out Top of the World Live (CD and Freegal) if you want to experience the Chicks in concert.

This New York Times piece about the Dixie Chicks and Kacey Musgraves as “Country Rebels” prompted me to borrow Kacey Musgraves’s recent release Pageant Material (CD and Hoopla) and savor the title track, “Late to the Party”, and “Biscuits”.

With the line “…mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy…”, “Biscuits” can serve as a good response to any nosy yet usually well meaning questions.

Are you going to any concerts this summer? Do you use song lyrics to respond to questions you’d rather not answer?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

*Click here for resources on domestic violence.

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