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Why Everett True is wrong

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PJ Harvey

by Princess Stomper

“Mostly only art created by women has any validity. The male experience has been created and recreated so often” – Everett True, 1992

That is such bullshit. It’s like saying that only Tuvan throat singing/rock hybrids have any validity because you don’t get much of that, either. (And, fuck, it’s good stuff.)

I don’t flip the sleeve over to check the gender before I’ll listen to the record, any more than I’d think too much about whether they were, say, Turkish. And, yes, a Turkish act does bring a certain flavour to the mix that you rarely get with non-Turkish acts. It’s informed and shaped by its Turkishness but not wholly defined by it because it’s more than that and to reduce it to that is to insult it.

Take Aylin Aslim, for example. I don’t know who she is, but I love her. I don’t have the slightest clue what she’s singing about (though Google translate tells me it’s called “ghoul”). There’s definitely a Turkishness to what she does, but I don’t set out to listen to Turkish folk. I just like this one – her – because she has such a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude and playful energy that makes her an absolute joy to listen to.

It’s an attitude prevailant among women who enjoy rock music but not so much among those who don’t. What is it that makes us different? Too much testosterone in the womb? *Notes elongated ring finger.* Well, yes, but it’s more complicated than that.

When I was 16 I was in a band with a much older American who used to know Courtney Love. I quit the band before we played any gigs because my bandmate wanted to call us Beef Curtains. Courtney once said that Hole was not a genital reference – the line of inspiration was “there’s a hole in my soul”. If even Courtney Love thinks it’s vulgar, you might want to rethink your strategy.

(While we’re on the subject, what is the obsession with body parts? I heard Hermione from Harry Potter referred to as “the one with the vagina”. Seriously? “Lindsay Lohan’s dress was so short I could see her vagina.” I’d be impressed if you could. The vagina is the inner bit; the vulva is the outer bit. If you’re going to be vile, at least be correct. And my most hated: “hot piece of ass”. What, you don’t even get to be a whole ass? If you were any less of a person, you’d vanish altogether.)

Of course, Babes In Toyland could be pretty vulgar at times, but that went with the primal fury of their sound. Kat was a terrifying presence on stage, and I think that’s what Lorraine wanted to capture with our band. It would have worked for her, but not for me. I’m just not a screamer.

Buke-and-Gass

The problem I had with bands was the same problem I had with drama class: there just weren’t any roles I felt comfortable with. You’re either the love interest, the shouty one or the mad one. Zooey Deschanel, Kat Bjelland or Tori Amos. Other women wanted to play Hamlet; I wanted to play Stoppard’s Guildenstern. Where are the Guildenstern bands: the ones on the sidelines making wry observations? Elastica were in the 90s, but they’re long forgotten now. History doesn’t favour the adequate; only the outstanding. While we’re at it, where are the girl Hamlets? You know what I’d really like to see? The Portias: Shakespeare’s most overlooked female character. Smart, quick witted, resourceful, and thoroughly, refreshingly sane.

I’ve heard a lot of good albums in the past year by female-fronted acts, but no truly great ones. I wanted to like PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake a lot more than I did. I enjoyed Glasser’s Ring and Guai Li’s Flight Of Delusion and Buke And Gass’s Riposte – but compare those to the last albums by Sufjan Stevens or Foetus or Battles? Those are better because they have more depth, innovation and variety. Even if you’re more than just the ‘love interest’, ‘shouty’ or ‘mad’, a real person is made of many facets. The worst character in fiction is Twilight‘s Bella: a canvas of nothingness onto which the empty project their shallow desires. Washed Out in book form.

Into the best music, the songwriter pours her whole soul. There’ll be love and hate and lust and longing and regret and happiness and rage and despair and humour and raw, personal honesty. There’ll be wry, witty observations and songs about belief and doubt and shame and pride. And – to be fair – there are a lot of good albums where the lyrics contain all those things but the music does not. You cannot make a great album with 12 songs that sound roughly the same, and that alone is why so many fine albums by clever women just don’t hit the mark.

Female rock stars are like female athletes: they can outperform most of both genders, but the women can’t beat the best of the men, and I don’t really know why. [Whoa, now just wait a minute! – outraged Ed] Is it just a numbers game? I’ve named three outstanding male acts out of tens of millions of male-fronted bands. Were the numbers equalled up, would there be women among the Greatest Bands In The World? I certainly think so, but we’re still stuck with a default where fewer little girls love rock than boys, and I’m not sure if that’s going to change much.

Is it because we’re too eager to praise female-fronted acts? They’re so rare and precious that any band that comes along that isn’t abysmal is celebrated more than it would be if they were boys, when the truth is that they’re just not good enough – or if they’re good, they could be better. Too many albums blow their load in the first track and only the better ones don’t run out of steam halfway through – but that’s not the same as surprising you on every song. Let England Shake was an indisputably fine album, but it’s the best album I’ve heard in a year by a woman – not the best I’ve heard overall. If I was Polly Jean Harvey and heard someone say, “It’s a great album … for a woman,” I’d be horrified. [I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone say that. Anyone – Ed] More than that, I’d know I need to up my game.

How do you respond to that challenge? I saw Everett True call out Lucy Cage and Scott Creney as two of the most naturally gifted writers he’d seen, and I look at their work and think, “They’re better than me”. I’m normally employed for being cheap and reliable, but is that how I want to be forgotten? History doesn’t favour the adequate: most people don’t even recall what I wrote last week. I need to work harder; take more care; pour my whole soul in – not because there’s any grand competition, but because adequate isn’t good enough.

It’s not enough to outrun the crowd, you have to want to break records. Break them in the sense that you shatter people’s expectations of what you’re capable of – alter not just your own record, but their assumption of what the record can be. The best records leave you reeling, devastated, excited and bewildered. You didn’t know music could do this. Then the next song comes along and does it again, but totally differently. It leaves you dazed, confounded and forever changed. I just can’t see people tearing up at Glasser the way they do with Cardiacs’ ‘Dirty Boy’.

It’s not that I think Cameron Mesirow lacks the talent to make a game-changing album, but I don’t think anyone told her that she should. I feel like the teacher with the red pen: Must Try Harder. Yes, you should, and yes, you must! Certainly if you want to look yourself in the eye in the mirror. You need the pride of knowing what you do is the best that you can do and of pushing it as far as it can go. It’s not the body parts that divide us but the emotions that unite us. It’s not the “male experience” or the “female experience”, but the human experience in all its depth and variety. Your quest is to portray that in all its visceral beauty and complexity.

If you’re not doing your damnedest to push yourself harder, then your art doesn’t have any validity at all.

58 Responses to Why Everett True is wrong

  1. Scott Creney July 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Here’s a list (off the top of my head) of ten albums created (more or less) by females that are (in my opinion) as great or better as ANYTHING created by men.

    1) Throwing Muses – Throwing Muses
    2) The Breeders – Pod
    3) Sleater-Kinney – The Hot Rock
    4) The Waitresses – The Best of the Waitresses
    5) Electrelane – Axes
    6) The Slits – Cut
    7) The Raincoats – S/T
    8) Kleenex/Liliput – Compilation on Kill Rock Stars
    9) Essential Logic – Fanfare In The Garden
    10) Tunabunny – Minima Moralia
    11) Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville
    12) PJ Harvey – Rid of Me
    13) Kylie Minogue – Fever
    14) Madonna – The Immaculate Collection
    15) Joanna Newsom – Ys
    16) Heavenly – The Decline and Fall of
    17) Elastica – Elastica
    18) Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis
    19) Dionne WArwick – Anything from the 1960’s
    20) Wanda Jackson
    21) Bush Tetras
    22) Delta 5
    23) Au Pairs

    Anyway. You get the idea. And that’s pretty good considering men had a 30 year head start, put the rules in place, and forced everyone to abide by them if they wanted to be taken seriously. I love ya, Stomper, but I have to respectfully disagree on this one.

    And Lucy Cage is a WAY better writer than I am. And so is Kristin Hersh for that matter. And Flannery O’Connor. And Gertrude Stein. And Anne Sexton. And Angela Carter. And Emily Dickinson.

    Good DAY, madam.

  2. hannah golightly July 25, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Woah! Although you make a lot of sense on many points- that last sentence

    “If you’re not doing your damnedest to push yourself harder, then your art doesn’t have any validity at all.”

    makes me want to write a piece just like yours entitled Why Princess Stomper Is Wrong.

    In my experience, both obvervational and personal having done 5 years at Art School and being a musician jamming around, one thing has become unquestionably clear:

    Effort is the enemy of inspiration.

    And I fail to agree with either extremes from you OR Everett True on this subject. I was amused by and very much enjoyed what ET said. An extra little weight to tip the balance towards evening things out. Some support for aspirants like myself in music. But the notion that music isn’t gendered is also just as absurd in many cases.

    We live in a society that tells it’s stories through music, film and literature. If I want to read a book that’s from a relative point of view, I’ve many choices. I may very well be more curious about the view from the other side of the fence and wanna sneek a peek inside the mind of a man instead… but the variety allows me this choice.

    In music, there isn’t enough choice at this point. The female point of view just isn’t there on the same scale. It’s often easier to find a male voice that resonates more with my life than a female one… but if there were enough women’s stories being told, I’m sure it would be different. Music wouldn’t seem quite so sexist as a general medium either. One thing I like about Katy B is the story she tells in her songs Perfect Stranger and katy On A Mission. They are evocative and share the inner experience of her interaction with men on a night out. There are entire chart loads of songs about guys eyeing up Shorties- quite often in a derogatory way. I like hearing the other side of the story, my side of the story being sung to me by the most unlikeliest of people- Katy B.

    I am curious as to the ratio you mentioned about how many female bands there are compared to male and how many are successful on the same level.

    When I was learning drums as a teen, my drum teacher used to call me ‘Wet’ a lot. Why? Because I’d sit there looking at the drums, reading the sheet music, trying to work it out in my head first. So we’d be sitting there is silence for a minute. Then I’d begin and I’d be just as shit as the boys. He said the girls he taught all seemed to do that. The boys just tried it and failed, then repeated their attempts until they eventually got it right. The girls would pause… then be shit and repeat it until they got it right. We didn’t know the reason for this gender different approach. he did say though that the girls were usually much better than the boys in the end. So I guess that the ability to multi-task that’s favoured in female brains give us some advantages in drumming, but male testosterone fuels their ability to take risks along with their lack of fear of imperfection drilled into them with the nifty phrase “Boys will be boys” that offers them the ability to make mistakes with confidence from a young age.

  3. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Actually, I thought the latest Gyratory System album was pretty good.

    For men.

  4. Brigette July 25, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Lora Logic was better than Captain Beefheart, and Planningtorock is better than Brian Eno.

  5. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Lora Logic was better than Captain Beefheart

    The first show I ever saw in London was Essential Logic (w/Robert Rental & the Normal + Stiff Little Fingers). A video exists of it somewhere, and I can swear you can actually see me and my pal bobbing about, frantically dancing to ‘Aerosol Burns’ and the like.

  6. Brigette July 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Awesome!

  7. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Some of the lyrics on the new Art Brut album are wickedly sardonic.

    For men.

  8. Joseph Kyle July 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Scott…aren’t a good number of those songs on that Madonna record…written by…men?

  9. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Scott…aren’t a good number of those songs on that Madonna record…written by…men?

    And pretty good songs they are too … for men.

  10. Scott Creney July 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Songs on the Immaculate Collection written exclusively by Madonna:
    Lucky Star

    Songs on that album which she co-wrote:
    Into the Groove, Live to Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart, La Isla Bonita, Like A Prayer, Express Yourself, Cherish, Vogue, Justify My Love, Rescue Me.

    Songs on any Elvis recording in the history of Elvis written by Elvis Presley:
    Zero.

  11. Alex July 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Sometimes though there’s occasions/albums where women translate things in ways that men simply can’t – therefore highlighting the special carateristic of them being female.

    Julie Christmas on the ‘Battle Of Mice’ album ‘A Day Of Nights’ is a brilliant album and one example that instantly comes to mind of a woman expressing herself in a way that 10,000 equally gifted men could not.

    Great article (& comments).

  12. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    In my more extreme days I would have summed up Princess Stomper’s argument in four (five) words.

    Because he’s a man.

  13. Joseph Kyle July 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Actually, that’s not true, Scott.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That%27s_Someone_You_Never_Forget

    And, like Elvis, I believe that a number of those “written” by Madonna were “co-writes” for the sake of royalties….l

  14. Victoria Birch July 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    This argument seems have boiled down to ‘girls vs boys’, Fight! Fight Fight! I m assuming neither Princess or Everett really think either gender is ‘better’ than the other (although I appreciate the middle ground is a rather beige place to be). I’m probably interpreting Everett’s original quote at an extremely shallow level but I do agree, insomuch as it feels like there’s much more to discover about women. Kind of like the male experience is the Moon (been there, done that – withdrawing NASA funding because we can’t be bothered to go again) and women are like Mars; we know a reasonable amount but it’s still so interesting because it’s (relatively speaking) mysterious and unexplored.

    I still find I’m, for want of a better word ‘shocked’ by female output – much more so than male. Joanna Newsom’s Baby Birch appears to address a subject matter that I personally have never heard referenced before in music. I felt poleaxed by it in so many ways. I felt the same way when I first heard PJ Harvey’s ‘Dry’ and ‘Happy and Bleeding’. I really struggle to think of something by a male artist that’s had the same effect.

    That doesn’t negate the worth of dmale output, just that maybe there’s little that’s new to discover in terms of the ‘male experience’.

    Oh and btw as much as we might want to unite sexes in this lovely big homogenised utopia there absolutely IS a “female experience” and a “male experience”. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that happens to me that categorically does not happen to 99.9% of the male population. Physiology DOES divide us. It floods me with a stack of hormones that affects how I feel and how I behave and I definitely want someone to write stuff that empathises with those things that happen to me, as a women. It’s not about ignoring the “human experience”, but there are songs that can be enjoyed by everyone but speak specifically about female orientated issues. And I’m very grateful they do.

  15. Scott Creney July 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    @Joseph. Songs written SOLELY by Madonna on her first album:
    Lucky Star, Burning Up, I Know It, Think of Me, Everybody.

    And a co-write for Physical Attraction. But I’m sure that one was just ‘for the sake of royalties’.

    Here’s an interesting article from someone who did a little more research on this subject than I did. Or you did.

    http://cosmicamericanblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/madonna-songwriter.html

    And if you’re going to argue that ‘she only composed her lyrics’ means she’s less of an artist, I guess that would mean Morrissey isn’t an artist as well.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t think you have to write your own songs to be considered an artist. But in the case of Madonna, it’s simply not true that she didn’t write any of her songs.
    (edit: wrote Madonna instead of Morrissey earlier. Huh.)

  16. Tim Footman July 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Celine Dion is better than Otis Redding. Except she’s not, she’s fucking shit, and Otis was a genius, but hey, who’s counting?

  17. Princess Stomper July 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    @ ET

    1. “Takes issue with a statement ET made 20 years ago” and repeated a week ago. :p
    2. “A good album … for a woman” – no, I’ve never heard anyone say that directly about PJ Harvey, but isn’t that the implication when you start creating
    divisions based on demographics?
    As an album – don’t care who made it – Let England Shake is not a great album, though it certainly is good. If you honestly, sincerely in your heart-of-hearts believe it to be better than that, then by all means hype away, but if your estimation of the record is inflated by your pro-women feelings, then you do everyone a disservice.
    In a way it’s like when the fat girl wins Britain’s Got Talent, but everyone secretly knows she only has an average voice. The first Grinderman album was pretty average, too, but people went nuts over it because it was Nick Cave. Implication: “it’s a good album … for an old bloke.” Isn’t that just a little bit patronising?
    It’s about not letting people off the hook. When you start fetishising femininity and saying that “only art made by women has any validity” when that art is shallow and complacent, who are you really helping?
    Of course, 20 years ago, some women really were creating game-changing, genre-defining music – not better or more valid than that created by men, but comfortably equal. Even more reason to give everyone a solid kick up the arse now.

    @ Scott – a lot of the acts on your list are what I’d call “pop”, and women seem to be better than men at pop, imo. As for the rockier ones on your list, respectfully agree to disagree. They don’t suck by any means, but they’re not “pushing the envelope” as some might say.

    @ Hannah – interesting stuff about the difference in approach

    @ Erika – the thing about the name was symptomatic. Classic case of “musical differences”. I didn’t want to be in a band that was ABOUT being women. I just find that really dull.

    @ Joseph – I’m not so fussed about who wrote a song. I’m just wondering where the female Pink Floyds and Led Zeppelins are – the ones that change the way music sounds forever. I’m not saying it’s never happened – Kim Gordon would be a “game-changing” female, for one – but it’s disappointingly rare.

    In between writing this article and its publication, I will actually admit to being confounded by one of ET’s posts:

    http://www.collapseboard.com/everett-true/song-of-the-day/song-of-the-day-378-no-mas-bodas/

    This is what I’m talking about. This is Da Shit. More of this, please, ladies!

  18. TheLastHeretic July 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    It’s a riduclous statement for sure, though an amusing one. There’s no doubt that women have been merginalised in music and art for centuries. Rock music is male led, no real suprise considering that it was socially unexceptable for women to even be part that world in the 50’s & 60’s, let alone performing.
    So men made the rules. Except they didn’t because rock music comes from a tradition of 100’s of years of folk music performed and created by men and women, music that took its validity from the fact that it was made and pertained precisely and sometimes exclusively to the people who made it. It was fostered and grown over generations, changed and adapted for new uses. It didn’t need an authority to come along and validate it (yes ET, you are an authority, you are music press establishment) because it was what it was, it functioned as part of the society.
    Now, few people of either gender can aquire their authority, their validity as a musician, from tradition. They have to create it from nothing and against a backdrop of misconceptions regarding originality and validity. So you play and develop and put just the right effort in and drive towards truth, for you, in that making. Others my come along and say that art isn’t valid or true, and probably you have misunderstood the art of music like most others and haven’t produced the best thing in the world, but what choice do you have but to carry on and play and create.

  19. TheLastHeretic July 25, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Music critics valid music in order to validate their own work as a critic.

  20. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    @Princess Stomper

    As an album – don’t care who made it – Let England Shake is not a great album, though it certainly is good. If you honestly, sincerely in your heart-of-hearts believe it to be better than that, then by all means hype away, but if your estimation of the record is inflated by your pro-women feelings, then you do everyone a disservice.

    Princess, I think you missed – either deliberately, or because you felt I wasn’t being serious – I was making in my 12 Favourite Songs of 2011 so far post. More and more, I am finding myself having to discriminate in favour of male artists, because the disparity between male and female musicians making great music (never forget: Music That *I* Like, NOT Music That You Like or Music That A Consensus Likes) is so great. Why aren’t male musicians creating such vital, inspirational, alive, intelligent, raw, spontaneous (fill in whatever adjectives you like) music as their female counterparts? Where is the male PJ Harvey, the male EMA, the male Barbara Panther, the male Kate Stelmanis, the male Monster Women, the male Agent Ribbons, the male Pris, the male Bjork, the male Micachu, the male Skinny Girl Diet, the male No Mas Bodas, the male Amanda Palmer, the male Julie Cafritz, the male Supercluster… (and a thousand more)?

    It couldn’t be because they’re not as interested in music as their female counterparts, could it?

    The answer might be simpler than that: maybe we shouldn’t be looking for male versions. Maybe we should be considering male musicians on their own merit.

  21. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    @Princess Stomper

    “Takes issue with a statement ET made 20 years ago” and repeated a week ago. :p

    Yeah, sorry. 😉 That was a bit of a stitch-up. I think I did make it clear in the repeated version that it was a repeated version, though.

  22. Princess Stomper July 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I didn’t miss your post, ET – you just made the post after I’d written this article 🙂

    I did read your list and it did persuade me that your professed love of these acts is motivated by nothing but the sincerest adoration of the music. I tried to use qualifiers such as “innovation”, but you describe something as innovative that I wouldn’t – and no doubt vice versa.

    It all reminds me of a story my husband told me about being dragged over to a stereo by a work colleague who wanted to play him the most amazing music in the world. As the song began to play, the colleague stood their, face slack in rapt attention; eyes glistening with tears; wordlessly devastated by the music emitting from the speakers. It was The Lighthouse Family.

    Not that anything on this blog (that hasn’t been roundly savaged) compares in anyway to that particular bucket of shite – and as I’ve said a few times, I did at least like that PJ album – but sometimes I do think “are we actually hearing the same sounds here?” Music That I Like, indeed!

  23. Princess Stomper July 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    *there

  24. Everett True July 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    “are we actually hearing the same sounds here?”

    No. No. I really don’t think we are. I don’t think anyone is.

    Also, appreciation of music is clearly coloured by personal experience.

  25. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 6:51 am

    (from Facebook)

    Beth Capper
    OK. NO.
    1. People who talk about the “human” experience do so to obscure/play down structural societal inequalities. You know, the kind that have historically affected how many women have picked up an instrument, a pen, a camera or a paintbrush.
    2. “Female rock stars are like female athletes: they can outperform most of both genders, but the women can’t beat the best of the men, and I don’t really know why.” THIS SENTENCE MADE ME WANT TO PUKE.
    3. There is a “female” and “male” culture and experience. Male culture constitutes the status quo against which any kind of female culture is compared and derided. Also, most of the taste-makers in prominent positions are men who support/maintain male culture (or women who also. Your perception of there not being women who can outrun the best of men in any category is based on your blind embrace of male culture and your perception that this is neutral – ie. you just like what you like and that that is in no way ideological or socially constituted. I CALL BULLSHIT ON THAT.
    4. “I enjoyed Glasser’s Ring and Guai Li’s Flight Of Delusion and Buke And Gass’s Riposte – but compare those to the last albums by Sufjan Stevens or Foetus or Battles? Those are better because they have more depth, innovation and variety.” REALLY? Cus every Sufjan Stevens album sounds EXACTLY the fucking same to me.
    5. The fact that the name Beef Curtains so bothered u is evidence of the way culture disparages anything female. I can imagine a whole venue filled with men and women chanting for a band called DICK to take the stage with absolutely no cringing.

  26. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Sarah Datblygu
    Why has no one commented this highly irritating article, with its entirely false claims! Everett is never wrong! But seriously, this is nonsense. I had never heard this Sufjan Stevens (who author is obviously a fan of) I just listened to him – awful. So perhaps I should put this whole argument down to a severe case of terrible music taste. To compare ANY of PJ Harvey’s albums to that dross is laughable. Her debut LP is THE BEST RECORD EVER. Not ‘adequate’. Or good ‘for a woman’. The writer does almost bring herself to an actual point in the latter part – in her atrocious statement about the best women never beating the best men – even if this were true, perhaps it would be true for the same reason men score higher on IQ tests. Because we inhabit a patriarchal society that favours men. Incidentally, white men score highest on IQ tests. Because we also inhabit a racist society. Hence things like positive discrimination exist. And just who are these ‘rare and precious’ women? (who we all feel sorry for and make allowances for accordingly) Last time I checked they made up 50% of the population. I just checked the Billboard top ten and it reflects that statistic exactly.

  27. hannah golightly July 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    @Sarah D from facebook- Men score higher on IQ tests? Not in my experience. I score above my brother and my Dad. My other brother is above me… it’s close though between all of us. Don’t know what my Mum scored or if she’s taken one lately. Is that a statistical fact or are you making ludicrous claims now?

  28. hannah golightly July 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    “5. The fact that the name Beef Curtains so bothered u is evidence of the way culture disparages anything female. I can imagine a whole venue filled with men and women chanting for a band called DICK to take the stage with absolutely no cringing.”

    I’m sorry, but I have a humongous grin on my face and have been laughing hysterically at the mention of the name ‘Beef Curtains’ ha ha ha ha ha ha ha So it’s really hard to critique anything seriously with those words in the sentence.

    Beef. Curtains. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Beavis and Butthead or what? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hahahahaha

    Hi we’re Beef Curtains. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    What’s your band called?
    Beef Curtains

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Could you say it with a straight face? I can’t even type it with a straight face.

    The Sex Pistols, the Slits, Hole (it implies it even if C. L. says it’s not the meaning), Butthole Surfers…

    …in fact in the film Singles there’s a fictional band called Citizen Dick. I thought that was hilarious. They had a song called Touch Me I’m Dick ( a cover of T.M.I.Sick)

    I think I’d better call up the bassist and tell her we’re changing the name of our band to Dick. I don’t know if people will chant it though.

    Hello we’re Dick. er…. Think I’m starting to prefer Beef Curtains.

  29. Brett July 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    “Brigette says: Lora Logic was better than Captain Beefheart, and Planningtorock is better than Brian Eno.”

    Bullshit. Planningtorock isn’t even a footnote compared to Eno. Lora Logic is important in her own right but comparing her to Beefheart is just lame.

  30. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Bullshit. Planningtorock isn’t even a footnote compared to Eno. Lora Logic is important in her own right but comparing her to Beefheart is just lame.

    I think Tim’s comment is the most valuable here.

    Celine Dion is better than Otis Redding. Except she’s not, she’s fucking shit, and Otis was a genius, but hey, who’s counting?

    MUSIC IS NOT A COMPETITION. Who gives a fuck whether someone else prefers one artist over another? What matters is whether you – yourself, personally – love them or not.

  31. Princess Stomper July 26, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    perhaps it would be true for the same reason men score higher on IQ tests. Because we inhabit a patriarchal society that favours men

    No, we inhabit a society that favours IQ tests designed to test your ability to pass IQ tests. The minute you learn how to answer the questions, your score improves – which is why scores improved exponentially (and evened out in terms of race and gender) in the 20th century, and it wasn’t because anyone was getting smarter. Read Beyond the Flynn Effect for more info.

    I can imagine a whole venue filled with men and women chanting for a band called DICK to take the stage with absolutely no cringing

    Really? I tend to abbreviate “Revolting Cocks” to “RevCo” because I just can’t take a band with a rude name seriously. (Not that much RevCo stuff is meant to be serious.)

    “And just who are these ‘rare and precious’ women?”

    Well, OK – let me put it another way. Someone reminded me of a rare exception: a woman who completely on her own terms defined a sound, changed the way we think about music performance, inspired countless others to follow in her wake, and made interesting, intelligent, accessible music that covered a wide range of experiences. Kate Bush. That’s the kind of thing to aspire to – to make that kind of an impact.

    And that was really the point of the piece – not a silly game of one-upmanship on which bands write the prettier tunes, but just asking “Why Aren’t There More Kate Bushes?”

    Interesting how absolutely nobody has taken issue with my assertion that women are better at pop.

  32. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Why Aren’t There More Kate Bushes?

    Do you make this kind of statement about male artists? You should. You really should.

    Once again.

    Where is the male PJ Harvey, the male EMA, the male Barbara Panther, the male Kate Stelmanis, the male Monster Women, the male Agent Ribbons, the male Pris, the male Bjork, the male Micachu, the male Skinny Girl Diet, the male No Mas Bodas, the male Amanda Palmer, the male Julie Cafritz, the male Supercluster… (and a thousand more)?

    I’m reiterating this point, not because I want actually male equivalents of female artists, but because it’s the sort of dumb-ass question that still gets asked about female artists, day in day out. And it’s complete bullshit. Absolute and complete and utter bullshit. Just because one person has a limited way of hearing and loving music doesn’t mean the next should.

  33. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    P.S. I do admire the way Princess Stomper is throwing a massive spanner in the works here.

  34. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    P.P.S. I love Kate Bush but I do find it fascinating that she is continually picked up on by People Who Prefer The Sound Of Males Making Music, as the one example of a ‘talented’ female – almost as if they’re trying to prove how ‘open-minded’ they are. (The only female artist featured on the cover of the first 5,000 issues of Mojo/Uncut etc.)

  35. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    If I was Polly Jean Harvey and heard someone say, “It’s a great album … for a woman,” I’d be horrified. More than that, I’d know I need to up my game.

    I sincerely hope that wouldn’t be your first reaction. I sincerely hope that your first reaction would be to punch the patronising dickhead in the gut.

  36. Princess Stomper July 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Do you make this kind of statement about male artists? You should. You really should.

    Coming right up …

    I sincerely hope that wouldn’t be your first reaction. I sincerely hope that your first reaction would be to punch the patronising dickhead in the gut.

    See my Nick Cave analogy above, though I accept that’s not what you’re doing. Incidentally, the last time I was insulted to my face – about five years ago, if I recall – I instinctively snapped out a “HOW DARE YOU” with such venom that the poor lamb was grovelling an apology before he could even register what I’d said. I realised I’d finally grown up – in previous years I’d probably have just headbutted him. 😀

  37. chuck July 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I once disected a toad.. not at school- just for fun. I’m still amazed at how colourful internal organs are.. can’t remember doing a school disection but they tended to be standard fodder of the day. I still feel sad that toad died for my pleasure of inquiry.. but really – fuk it! It’s only a toad.. be devastated if i carved up a frog.. All these years later it has never occured to me to wonder what it’s gender was…. .. .

  38. Brett July 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Sorry, Everett, Brigette made it a competition by saying one was “better” than the other. If she wanted it to be read as merely a preference she should have said “I prefer one to the other.” Look at how she wrote it, “Lora Logic was better than Captain Beefheart, and Planningtorock is better than Brian Eno.”

    At least Scott frames his list as a list of opinions. I disagree that Lucy Cage and Kristen Hersh are better writers than him but agree that Flannery O’Connor, Gertrude Stein,and Emily Dickinson are.

  39. Everett True July 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Brian Eno’s pretty good … for a man.

  40. chuck July 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Baby’s on fire.. got to throw her in the water….

  41. Princess Stomper July 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Hey, for tomorrow’s argument, you could say “mostly only art created by Australians has any validity. The American experience has been created and recreated so often.”

    Then I can say “do you really think that [Australian act] is as innovative and passionate as [American act]” and accuse you of tokenistically promoting Brisbane acts that you’d probably ignore if they were American, and you can explain that I’m obviously not “getting” how great they are because my senses have been dulled by years of American imperialism.

    C’mon, it’ll be fun!

    *ducks and runs*

  42. Beth July 27, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Beef Curtains is a ridiculous name. So is Dick (and Revolting Cocks). The slits, Hole.. yes, they imply it pretty directly (as does the Sex Pistols) but those names aren’t so brash and can be distanced from their referents. I still think an all girl band would get more flack for calling themselves the former (even as humor, even with tongue in cheek, or as a brash political statement) than the latter. When women made brash political “cunt” art (as many 70s feminist artists did in the USA and it was often about queer lesbian identity) it wasn’t embraced as transgressive by the artworld. It was dismissed. The same artworld has happily embraced multiple sculptures of penises throughout western art history, and thoroughly embraces lude and suggestive queer male representations. I’m not saying i’d want to be in a band called either.. but i don’t think they’d get the same treatment.

  43. TomM July 27, 2011 at 6:20 am

    A hint for tomorrow: Write an article about men and women creating great music together. The world will be a happy place once again haha

  44. hannah golightly July 27, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Music is a competition on Pitchfork and anywhere else where the music receives scores.

    TomM- if there was an article tomorrow about men and women creating music together then it would be implied that the man had written the music they created together and the woman was just a focal point to sell it to men. True or not.

  45. Brigette July 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Sorry, Everett, Brigette made it a competition by saying one was “better” than the other. If she wanted it to be read as merely a preference she should have said “I prefer one to the other.” Look at how she wrote it, “Lora Logic was better than Captain Beefheart, and Planningtorock is better than Brian Eno.”

    Just having a bit of fun! For the record I actually don’t prefer one to the other, in either case. Which is why I shouldn’t have said “I prefer one to the other.” I LOVE Captain Beefheart and I LOVE Lora Logic’s work in Essential Logic. I believe they were both artists who orchestrated music as if they were charting the flight patterns of birds. They incorporated nature, chaos, strange timing and unique vocal styles to create just overwhelmingly beautiful pieces of work. The difference in my mind is that Captain Beefheart relied on the persona of some old southern blues guy to do it (not very original) while Lora Logic was able to use her own voice. To me, this makes me think that Lora Logic IS BETTER. Plus, I was being a little bit playful here in response to this article (hey Stomper! 😉 ) because while Captain Beefheart has been called a genius, Lora Logic never was. So really this is all a big excuse for me to say LORA LOGIC WAS A GENIUS.

    That being said, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategyis one of my favorite albums of all time. I think Eno and Planningtorock have similarities as artists because they construct these evocative and detailed stories within their songs which are simultaneously emotionally detached from their personas as artists, yet intensely emotional and oddly personal in content. I think Planningtorock is better than Eno in this moment because Brian (love ya buddy, seriously I do!) has not made a decent album in years. Although there was a cool moment on Small Craft in a Milk Sea. And Wby Planningtorock rules.

    And Brett, my opinion in no way takes anything away from yours. There can be no competition amongst opinions when there is no limited amount of resource to fight over. I tear down my idols because I find it boring to admire. I like faults in my heroes, because I believe that everyone has the potential to do something really great. And if you had to be perfect to do something really great, than no one would do anything (except for those who had a false idea of their own self-importance).

    I could be wrong. I could be right.

    I welcome your insightful “nuh-uh!”
    xoxo

  46. Princess Stomper July 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    @ Chuck: Poor toad! O.o

    @ Erika: Agreed. Ish. People are naturally more able to relate to people they identify with (ref ET’s quote on Bon Iver) – and it’s easier to hook into and recall lyrics that describe our own experiences. I think the press can relate to the experience, plus (more likely) those posh types of bands are more likely to have the resources and connections to get a decent PR firm behind them. It’s like how indie bands in the 90s had a pretty even gender mix, but they all went to Oxbridge and drank in the same pubs.

    @ Beth: Look on Regretsy for some ludicrous “vagina art”. It’s all very silly to me. I don’t think you can compare that to classical art, in the same way that historians admire old Sheela-Na-Gig statues but would consider some paper mache phallus made by some spotty geek from St Martins as being a bit stupid.

    @ TomM: I cheated a bit – Buke and Gass are a two-piece and I don’t think either would lessen the other’s contribution to the band. I just picked on Arone because it’s her voice you hear on the songs.

    @ hannah: It depends on the band and what role they play. There’s definitely a hierarchy in bands. “I was the singer, then the guitarist, and then the bass player. I always had this terrible fear I’d end up on drums” – Roger Waters, Pink Floyd. The singer is either the most crucial or the most dispensible member of the band. Someone like Lesley Rankine in Silverfish, for example, you’d have to be a bit stupid (with a death wish) to make that sort of assumption. Tim Burgess in the Charlatans, much as he was my teen pin-up poster-boy, I always considered him just eye-candy and figured the rest of the band wrote the songs.

    @ Brigette: This comments section needs two things – a “like” button, and a tickle-stick for prodding the other users. 😀

  47. hannah golightly July 27, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Well when you consider that even in a band like Hole, the songwriter often has the credit for her music portioned off onto someone outside of the band, then it says a lot about public perception. In fact that may be a separate issue- if we dislike a public figure, we’ll justify it by taking away the credit they are due and if we like them, we’ll give them more credit than they deserve. It may be more complex than a gender issue, but in my opinion, gender plays a role. For example, it’s often said that bits and pieces of Nirvana’s music were not written entirely by the lead singer. The marriage of two rock stars with very different personal popularity votes shows us something interesting. It looks to me like the creative inspiration was a two way street, but it’s widely acknowledged to be a one way street in this instance.

  48. Princess Stomper July 28, 2011 at 3:24 am

    That’s interesting – I’ve never thought of it like that because my friends and I were fans of Hole and Nirvana separately prior to the Kurt & Courtney days. I don’t know if you ever saw a show called Rapido, but Hole were on there in about 1990/1 and they just blew me away, and a lot of my friends too. So by the time they married, they were firmly and equally established in our minds as separate creative entities.

  49. Brigette July 28, 2011 at 5:27 am

    @ Princess Stomper: Love the idea of a tickle-stick 🙂 haha.

  50. sleevie nicks July 28, 2011 at 7:59 am

    i’m kinda confused. is princess stomper pj harvey? and why does pj harvey feel that everett true is wrong? and with a name like princess stomper why are you advocating violence on women? why is scott creney listing female artists but not listing all female artists? what is a tickle stick? also why not compromise by not picking between captain beefheart and essential logic cause when you combine the two you get captain sensible? there could be more questions but i’m getting bored already.

  51. hannah golightly July 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

    @Princess- I’m a massive Hole and Nirvana fan and I never saw it that way either, but if you try to watch a Hole clip on youtube, there’s always a long list of C. Love haters banging on about Kurt writing Live Through This. So certain public perception can be way off the mark and I wonder if sexism plays it’s part. I also read a review of L7 once that joked about their ‘boyfriends’ actually playing the music from somewhere out of sight behind the stage. It’s like when people have decided on a view point, they have to find tenuous imaginations in order to carry on believing in their point of view.

  52. hannah golightly July 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

    p.s. What is a tickle stick?

  53. Victoria Birch July 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    @hannah – not sure about anyone else, but Tickle Sticks are your fingers and they tend to sit on the end of the Tickle Monster’s hands NB. generally the Tickle-Monster only uses the Tickle Sticks for amusing the under 5s – but I think he would be delighted to find an opportunity to make use of his tickling talents in this forum.

  54. Victoria Birch July 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    ..you can find more info. regarding the original Tickle Stick owner here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9028663.stm

  55. Princess Stomper July 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Ah, I can’t really remember the Ken Dodd sketch, but that’s where it must have come from: I definitely had a feather duster in mind!

    @ Sleevie:
    i’m kinda confused. is princess stomper pj harvey?
    No, which is a tad disappointing because she’s way cooler than me

    and why does pj harvey feel that everett true is wrong?
    I think most people think ET is wrong at some point

    and with a name like princess stomper why are you advocating violence on women?
    I’m a princess who stomps! *points to army boots*

    also why not compromise by not picking between captain beefheart and essential logic cause when you combine the two you get captain sensible?
    Because you have to have a dream, if you do don’t have a dream, how’re you gonna have a dream come true?

  56. hannah golightly July 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    @Victoria- thanks for the info.

  57. Jed August 3, 2011 at 5:19 am

    It’s true that Brian Eno hasn’t made a decent album in years, but he also made four or five brilliant ones in the 70s, and I somehow doubt Planningtorock has made anything on the level of “Here Come The Warm Jets”. I’m open to being wrong, though.

  58. Jed August 3, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Also, all artists would be better if they spent more time responding to their muse (forgive the expression) and less trying to conform to some unconscious marketing scheme. Unfortunately I think that a lot of female musicians worry about being “female” instead of worrying about being themselves. There’s a lot of pressure there that I don’t envy, but at the end of that day a poseur is a poseur and people need to realize how much our minds have been warped by the demographic marketing monster. Kim Deal comes to mind as a great example of a great artist in music who doesn’t give a shit about being female or not for its own sake and just does what she wants. She’s better off for it. I don’t know if I’m making my point here. I remember bristling about riot grrl in the 90s because it seemed to be far more of a fashion statement for upper middle class white girls than an honest to goodness political force, and I didn’t think there was anything “punk rock” about that level of privledged self-delusion. Again, I can only imagine the pressure a female artist feels about either being loyal to some sort of socio-political ethic or using their sexuality as a selling point or myriad other things but at the end of the day, all artists, male or female, have a duty to the medium to be themselves, and to do the best they can do for themselves, and for no one else’s idea of what they should be or what they should be doing.

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