23/08/2019: “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn

When you think of country music in the Deep South from the 70s, you don’t tend to think of feminism. Yet, although it is very far removed from the kind of feminism prevalent today, Loretta Lynn’s straight talking defense of women’s reproductive rights is in many ways more powerful than the more explicitly political feminisms of today.

This song was actually banned by many country radios, because of its “controversial” subject matter. Regardless of the ingrained misogyny of the time, the tune still reached number 5 on the U.S. Country chart.

The chilled out country guitar goes very well with Lynn’s strong singing voice. Her thick Southern accent makes the forthright, humourous nature of the lyrics even more effective. It’s basically a dialogue with a husband telling him she’s on the pill. The fact that Lynn had 4 kids before she was 20 probably goes some way to explaining her feelings about it…

The track can be found on the album Back To The Country, which was released in 1975.

04/06/2019: “So Tough” by The Slits

The Slits are one of the most influential and uncompromising feminist rock bands.

The members of the band tended to use creative stage names, such as Palmolive and Ari Up. The line-up included punk rock legend Viv Albertine.

Their sound spans a range from raucous no holds barred punk to reggae tinged post-punk experiments. That vibe has particular weight here because the album this is from was produced by Dennis Bovell, a dub producer with genuine credentials in the scene.

“So Tough” is a funky piece which displays the unique style of the band at this point with great effect. It’s breathless, off-kilter, and slightly manic, taking the listener on a carnivalesque journey.

The lyrics are about being used by men and living a fast and easy life to eventually come up short. At least, that’s how I read it. The song is a bit cryptic in my opinion…

“So Tough” was released in 1979 on the critically acclaimed album Cut, which reached number 30 in the U.K. album charts at the the time and has since become a cornerstone of the post-punk canon.

13/07/2018: “Just A Girl” by No Doubt

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Gwen Stefani has one of the coolest voices on the planet. And she was distinctive, although by no means alone, by being a female singer in the Ska scene.

No Doubt weren’t a purely Ska band for the whole of their existence, but that’s where they stem from.

Songs like “Just A Girl” broke into the mainstream and the band’s new pop sound helped them reach new audiences.

However, that doesn’t mean they turned their back on their roots. “I’m Just A Girl” is off 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, which features some more straightforwardly ska tracks as well.

And even this song has the fast tempo of ska, as well as that skater feel.

Gwen’s performance is powerful, and the lyrics are a surprisingly direct feminist message.