To some of the women who worked in the music business, it was a symbol of rebellion.
It certainly was. The culture came to resemble an anarchic version of the early ’60s, when rock ‘n’ rollers were going on strike. It was this era of street fighting, where they were fighting out of an allegiance to the idea that there is something more than individual freedom: there’s an allegiance to the ideas embedded in the institutions and the culture that is dominant in the culture of the period.
There is a lot of music out there that was really influenced by these kinds of movements of rebellion. It wasn’t just rock ‘n’ roll. It was music from many different periods. And the women musicians were the ones who really came off as the real pioneers and the real revolutionaries. They were the ones who did it. There were many women that would later write those words, “I came out of Flappers for something else.”
“They were the ones who really came off as the real pioneers and the real revolutionaries.”
In the late ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, the women took the songs and songs that were already there, and they added that new dimension, in which a song didn’t have to stand on it’s own. It could be more than just itself. And a lot of that was about the idea that the listener was free to make up her own mind about what a song was about, if that was what she was drawn to, that it wasn’t a matter of choosing between any of the songs or not, it’s a matter of what you want to listen to. There was a tremendous sense of hope. You don’t have to agree with it, but if you do, you don’t have to listen to it.
That’s why things like “I can’t get no rest / I can’t get no rest for my soul” (on The Manic Street Preachers’ debut single, Manic Depression) work and why many of the female singers have a distinctive, feminine quality to them that they were unable or unwilling to replicate through the rest of the musicians.
I think the women songwriters from the late ’40s and early ’50s were really the ones who really started to change the music industry. That era was filled with a great amount of sexism, just as it would be at any other time in history. But there was also this incredible amount of creativity, energy and innovation that came from the
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