Tag Archives: women

Music Roundup: Ladies Who Rock

21 Nov

A few weekends ago I saw the Broadway show, A Night with Janis Joplin, which was fun. Be warned, your fellow audience members will likely sing along to Janis’s hits.

In the show, Janis tells the audience about growing up in Texas and the artists that inspired her, such as Nina Simone and Odetta. This got me thinking about my favorite female artists, and I decided to write about it here. Note that my list spans several different genres, and is in no way authoritative.

Janis Joplin

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this list with Janis. Her voice is distinct with its gravelly tone and soulfulness. Some of Janis’s well known songs are “Me and Bobby McGee”, “A Piece of My Heart”, and “Mercedes Benz”.

I like Janis’s take on the Bee-Gee’s “To Love Somebody”, which I feel best displays her bluesy voice.

Janis Joplin, The Essential Janis Joplin.

The Ronettes

My parents forced me to listen to 101.1 FM, New York City’s oldies station, as a child so I am very familiar with The Ronettes–Ronnie Spector (then known as Veronica Bennett), Estelle Bennett, and Nedra Talley–and their most famous song “Be My Baby”. This song was played during the opening scene of Dirty Dancing. The New York Times recently published an article about how the track has stayed so popular over the years.

Here’s a performance of that track. Check out those bouffant hairdos!

The Ronettes, Be My Baby: The Very Best of the Ronettes.

Stevie Nicks

I like to imagine that Stevie Nicks is my rock and roll fairy godmother. She wrote “Silver Springs”, which ranks among my favorite songs. Stevie found fame with Fleetwood Mac before striking out on her own successful solo career, with hits such as “Edge of Seventeen” and “Leather and Lace”.

Here’s a clip of Stevie singing “Rhiannon”, her signature track about the Welsh Witch, with Fleetwood Mac.

An honorable mention goes to Stevie’s bandmate Christine McVie, who wrote one of the prettiest love songs: “Songbird”.

Stevie Nicks, Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

For those who believe that women can’t rock, allow me to introduce you to the sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, lead singer and guitarist (respectively) of the band Heart. I grew up listening to “Dreamboat Annie”, “Alone”, and “Barracuda”, among other tracks. Ann and Nancy released a memoir last year called Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll.

This video is a prime example of how much Anne and Nancy can rock.

Heart, The Essential Heart.

Sharon Jones, of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

If you ever have a chance to see Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live and in concert, go. Luckily, they’re touring in 2014! Sharon will have you on your feet dancing with her throwback soul and funk. She and the Dap-Kings are my favorite artists to see live. Sharon was recently treated for cancer, and I’m looking forward to seeing her on the upcoming tour.

See Sharon in action here, performing “How Long Do I Have to Wait”.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights.

The Dixie Chicks

Yes, the Chicks are a country band. I’ve been a longtime fan of theirs and feel that Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, and Martie Maguire, are incredible musicians. The band faced major backlash for criticizing President Bush in 2003, the aftermath of which is documented in the film Shut Up & Sing. That experience also inspired the song “Not Ready to Make Nice”, which won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 2006.

I always liked the star-studded video for “Goodbye Earl”, a surprisingly lighthearted song about murder by black-eyed peas.

Dixie Chicks, The Essential Dixie Chicks.

Amy Winehouse

Another fan of old school soul, Amy Winehouse broke out with her Grammy-winning album Back to Black. Amy was influenced by girl groups like The Ronettes, and wore dramatic winged eyeliner and styled her hair in a bouffant. Fun fact: The Dap-Kings were the backing musicians on Back to Black.

Here is Amy’s take on a the famous Jazz standard, “There Is No Greater Love”.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black.

Which artists do you feel are missing from the list?

-Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Love and Sweets in Paris: Paris in Love, Lunch in Paris, and Paris, My Sweet

23 Oct

Paris, like New York, is a city that conjures up strong emotions and pictures in one’s mind whether or not you have actually been there.  My grandmother grew up in Paris, but moved to New Jersey when my father was two.  I have been lucky enough to visit Paris twice—once as a tween with extended family and once as an adult with my fiancé.

Paris for me always feels both beautifully foreign and yet nostalgically like home.  I grew up with homemade croissants and petite pains au chocolate as a weekend breakfast treat. Thanksgiving included escargots floating in garlic butter before the turkey, and salad was always served at the end of the meal.  I had heard so many stories about Paris that by the time I actually got there it felt like visiting a pen pal who you have written for years; you may have never seen them before, but you already know them so well.

I was interested in these three memoir pieces since all three women left this area (New York or New Jersey) and had their own unique encounters with Paris.  All are enamored with the delicious French cuisine, but they are in different stages of their lives romantically (one single, one engaged, and one married with two kids), which gives a unique view of their experience there.  Whether you have lived in Paris or simply have daydreamed about a trip, you will enjoy these vicarious visits.

Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

Eloisa James is the nom de plume of a New York Times bestselling author of historical romances and a Shakespeare professor.  In this memoir she describes the year she spent on sabbatical from her teaching job with her Italian born husband and two children in Paris.  James details both her interest in both French pastries and French fashion.  The work intersperses snippets from her Facebook posts with longer essays.  James was inspired to spend the year abroad after overcoming cancer.  I found many of the longer essays which look at both her time in Paris and invoke her childhood to be very moving, but I also highly enjoyed the moments of humor many of them detailing her son and daughter’s experiences at an Italian Language school and some bits about their ongoing efforts to get their overweight chihuahua to lose weight that made me giggle out loud.  Fans of her romance novels will enjoy an insight into James’s life, but even if you are not a regular reader of that genre, you will still find something to delight in this engaging book.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, With Recipes by Elizabeth Bard


What makes this perspective distinctive from the other two memoirs is that Elizabeth Bard is not simply a visitor or short term resident of Paris, but marries a Parisian and becomes a French citizen.  Because of this she delves more deeply beneath the surface of what it is to be French and must accept how these changes became a permanent part of her life.  The novel begins with her first lunch date in Paris with Gwendal, a young man from Northern France and their subsequent romance.  After spending weekends together, she soon moves in with him in Paris.  The book as she notes does not end in the way of fairy tales with her marriage, but pushes onward through a serious illness of a beloved family member and her further experiences of acclimating to life in Paris.  The book includes a few recipes at the end of each chapter and concludes with her decision to write this book as a kind of cookbook.  Although the recipes are a nice addition for those who want to create a little piece of Paris to eat in their own home, they didn’t feel essential to the book, which felt very rich on its own.  I liked that the book balances her love of Gwendal and the art and charm of Paris with the shifts in expectations of what one’s future will be that come from moving permanently to another country.

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas


Thomas’s book, like Bard’s, will appeal to foodies, but in the place of recipes she includes recommendations for bakeries, cafés, and boutiques for acquiring the delicious treats she chronicles during her time working as an ad executive for Louis Vuitton in Paris.  For those not planning to hop a plane across the Atlantic in the near future there are also recommendations for places where sweets can be acquired in New York City.  Thomas’s stay in Paris does not have a definite end like James’s yearlong sabbatical, but with her struggle to master the language and periodic pining for the States it is clear that she is not putting down roots in the same way that Bard does.  However, her job does allow for some workplace drama and humor that the other two lack.  It also causes her to reevaluate decisions that she has made in her life such as with earlier relationships, which add greater depth to what at first felt a bit of a shallow lark. However, many of these issues such as infertility and which country she will choose to make her permanent home are left unresolved at the memoir’s end.  The wonderful descriptions of the sweets is what truly caries this work.

-Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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