by Scott Creney and Brigette Herron
We sure do appreciate our readers here at Collapse Board. Most of them, anyway. So when one of you have a good idea like this guy did —
A hint for tomorrow: Write an article about men and women creating great music together.
— we spring into action. And to be honest, this is only the tip of the iceberg. (We also know that some CB readers prefer us to speak in tired clichés, e.g. Captain Beefheart is better than Lora Logic, we are sensitive to your traditionalism.) But you asked, so here’s a few examples.
Yeah, Fleetwood Mac. Only one of the most successful, best-selling bands in history.
It’s funny. There’s loads of women in country music who wrote their own songs, and are respected as much as the men — Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, et al. Nina Simone wrote songs, as did Aretha Franklin. Then there’s the whole Brill Building scene — Carole King, Ellie Greenwich, Jackie DeShannon, Cynthia Weil. All of these ladies were respected as artists. So what the hell was rock’n'roll’s problem? Before punk comes along, you’ve got Fleetwood Mac, Patti Smith and (the lone representative from the 60s) Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane. [Uh, just wait a moment. What about this? Or this? Or number 9 on this list? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this (check the editorial review)? Or any of the 10 volumes in this series? This? Or this? Etc - Bewildered Ed] And all, with the exception of Christine McVie, stand-alone singers. [I take your point, though - Ed]
People go on and on about punk, but let’s get this straight. There are two eras in female rock — before The Sex Pistols and after The Sex Pistols. Johnny Rotten and friends inspired shitloads of people who had never played music before, and who thought they weren’t good enough, to pick up an instrument and see what they could do with it. And some of these people were women.
A list of female groups inspired by punk — either all female or merely female-dominated — is an intimidating list of great music. But since this is about collaboration, here’s a clip from The Au Pairs, who get bonus points for using their (ahem) dual gendered setup to explore male/female sexual relations. (Look! She’s even playing the guitar!)
Of course, no article about man/woman music relations would be complete without Wayne (now Jayne) County, whose gender switch makes her the only self-contained gender collaboration in the history of rock.
The B-52’s music is truly collaborative — brothers, sisters, gay, straight and best friends. Their music came from hanging out together at parties and constantly being disappointed and bored. How could they be anything else besides fantastic?
Here’s a songwriting collaboration from Jane Wiedlin and Terry Hall, who were dating at the time, but in separate bands.
It doesn’t get any more equal, any less shittily competitive, than this. Did they fight over who got to record it? Did they argue over whose version was better? Nope. They just recorded it with both their bands. And each had a hit with it.
And sometimes the woman supports the man. Sometimes the man supports her. Sometimes they’re even married, and they can co-exist in a band with others and last forever. It’s called equality.
Melissa Elliott and Timothy Mosley are so tight you get their styles tangled. You know them better as Missy & Timbaland. This one’s worth sitting through the commercial.
One of the greatest pieces of art created by human beings in the history of humanity, if not the history of being.
Look, there’s countless other examples in all kinds of genres. And of course there’s also plenty of examples of people not collaborating. Gender and art, much like life, tend to be messy. You can oversimplify them, but in doing so you tend to leave out a great deal of important stuff. And when people start trying to force you to pick a side (man music or woman music?) or make a choice (pop or rock?) between false binary oppositions, it’s nice to know that sometimes you don’t have to pick a side. You can just say yes.
Tune in next week for the greatest anti-collaborations: starring Phil and Ronnie Spector, Ike and Tina Turner, and you.