This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.
September 1, New York: My wife had a tough week. So I cleaned the house while she napped and I listened to this double album of live Ani DiFranco with my headphones on. I confess, I missed this music. There was a moment in my life where I so strongly identified with being a fan of Ani’s, couldn’t tell it to enough people, and then the epochs of personality shifted and I left her behind when I left for college.
In high school, though, I listened to Living in Clip on repeat for nearly a year. I loved Ani for her virtuoso guitar-playing, for her lyricism, for her politics. I loved this music honestly and without artifice. “Out of Range” is particularly close to my heart; I once totaled a car because I was pressing forward on the CD player to get through the tracks to “Out of Range”, the final track. (Yes, I should have hit back twice.) I knew enough to wait for it this time and to enjoy the songs that came before. And then I played it three times through.
With this listen, too, I knew enough to hear all the love songs with a different ear. I suddenly realized why we all had such tortured and tumultuous relationships in our youth. This was our model! I lived my teens and twenties like an Ani DiFranco love song, without ever realizing how subconsciously I’d been prepared for it. I was either the protagonist or the villain, alternating back and forth between the roles (or always a villain, I am sure). Every relationship was a study in protracted yet beautiful collapse. Like “Gravel” or like “Untouchable Face” or like “Firedoor” or like sitting in a dark room with this album on repeat for hours.
Just as I left Ani behind on my way to college, I eventually worked my way out of those patterns in the years that followed and I now enjoy and indeed relish the stability of adulthood. And connecting back to my teenage self over the gulf of years spent, I must say I’m happy with the way things have turned out. And I think my Ani DiFranco period teenaged self would have been proud to see me, married happy and stable, listening to songs about gender roles while I quietly cleaned the house for my napping wife.
Revisit your Righteous Babe and pick up this masterful double disc live album.