Script for January 2002, QMH:
Charlie Murphy Intro
Welcome to my second anniversary show. I think I've got a good show lined up for tonight, and it includes a special interview with one of my favorites, and one of the best, lesbian folksingers, Jamie Anderson, so please stick around for that. But to start off I want to share with you the music of a new group from the Minneapolis area. This group is a bunch of four dykes, and I can get away with saying it that way because that's kind of how they named their group. They recorded an interview for me and I'll let them introduce themselves.
Hi, I'm Dee Wolfe, I'm Renaye, I'm K.C., I'm Kimberly June. We're the 4D-Ykes, and the name of our new CD is "Hot Flash."
Before we get any further I'd like one of you to explain the name of your group.
(Renaye) The name of our band kind of came out of our experience of all turning 40 and sitting there looking at each other and going my god we're 40 what are we going to do with the rest of our lives. Um. 4D-Ykes to us is the double entendre of 40, Yikes, and also 4 dykes, and so it really works for our band.
And, how would you describe your music
(Dee) I guess I would describe our music as a fairly eclectic mix of all of our influences, from the past, that could be anything from blues to rock to folk to country music, and I guess each of the songs kind of reflects whatever we happened to be influenced on in that particular song
One of my favorite songs on the CD is called "if it takes all night", that was written by Dee, could you please tell us about that.
(Dee) You know, when I wrote "if it takes all night" I guess I was kind of thinking about when I was first coming out. I had been doing the bar scene and dating randomly, and I kept looking around and looking around for whoever would be the perfect person. And it was so difficult just even trying to meet people when you're first coming out. And ultimately what I ended up doing is finding someone that was in essence right in my own back yard, and that was probably one of the most enlightening pieces of that it was sort of a trashy search for I don't know what and then end up finding what I really truly wanted right next door.
4d-Ykes-if it takes all night (2001)
Many of the songs on the album were inspired by personal experiences. Renaye wrote "hetero blues,"
(Renaye) "hetero blues" came out of personal experience, unfortunately. Or fortunately, I guess it contributed to my growth to be involved with women who at one point thought they were lesbians and then changed their minds, um but I think they've probably learned a little from the experience and I really enjoy singing that song now.
4D-Ykes-hetero blues (2001)
I wanted to get a little bit into the background of how they got together, all over the age of 40, to form this group, so I asked them to take turns giving their own versions of that.
(Dee) When the band originally got together was kind of interesting. I had been playing with another band and I was of course complaining and whining about how much I didn't like it to my friends, and I said you know, let's just do this. You guys used to play, let's get busy and we'll throw it all together and I basically beat 'em up and said you know what here's what's gonna happen, you're gonna go out and you're gonna learn these instruments, and we're gonna start playing at a band, and ultimately that's what ended up happening. And it was kind of interesting. At our age I thought it was pretty amazing to go after a dream that everybody had when we were youngsters, more or less, and pursue it now at this point in life and find that we really enjoy what we're doing and that we're finally ah kind of putting it together and doing what we really believe in, has been a hoot, that's all I can say, it's really been a hoot.
(KJ) I was hanging out with my friends one day and ah my buddy Dee was complaining about how much she hated being in the band she was in and she asked me about my musical background, and I told her I had some, from high school, probably about 12 years; she asked me if I could learn how to play a bass guitar and from that day forward she wrote me out a chart on a little bar napkin. We won't say what bar. (laughs) anyways she handed me her bass guitar and sent me on my way I came back a little while later, and I said here this is what I know and by the way I wrote a couple of songs to go with it.
(KC) I guess Dee was really the instigator for all of this um I used to play the drums a long long time ago ah last time I probably played I was 18 years old and I'd pretty much forgotten all about that but she convinced me that I should dust them off and learn how to play again, that we should all have a band. And it seems to be working out pretty good so far.
(Renaye) I didn't have anything to do with this, they dragged me kicking and screaming into this whole thing (laughs)
(Dee) Yeah, after we dragged Renaye up here kicking and screaming by the hair and got her up into the studio and sat down and started kind of jamming with things, it was just totally magic, it was just amazing how the energy of the group fell together instantly and of all the bands that I've played with in I don't know the last 30 something years, it's not ever felt like this before. This is just such a good group of people and coincidentally a good group of musicians to go along with it, and I think that it makes a tremendous amount of difference for how we feel as a band and how things work for us as a group.
Okay, one more song, Renaye, please tell us about "tough luck buddy"
(Renaye) I wrote "tough luck buddy" at a time in my life when I was not really out and I was wanting to be out and I can remember sitting and talking to straight people and in particular straight men who would ah cry on my shoulder and that was just kind of a fantasy to me to be able to stand up in a coffee shop and say, yo, buddy, I hear about your wife but you know, that's another one for me.
4D-Ykes-tough luck buddy (2001)
That was "touch luck buddy" from the album "Hot Flash" by the 4D-Ykes. You can find out more about their music at www.4d-ykes.com.
Jamie Anderson QMH promo
That was a bit of Jamie Anderson singing
Jamie Anderson Interview:
I've been wanted to do an interview with Jamie Anderson for quite some time, and now that she's released a new CD, the timing is perfect. I've said this on the air before that Jamie is my favorite lesbian folksinger of the 90s, and I think she's well deserved my respect. She's released six albums since 1989, in addition to producing a wonderful various artists release showcasing the work of other women artists. What is unique about her style is that she is able to combine such a variety of songs in her work. She's written some of the best songs that stand up for our rights as gay people, and she's able to do this not by hitting you over the head with it, but by turning phrases to make you think, and using her humor to deliver the message home before you know what's hit you she makes using Out lyrics look effortless. Now there are a lot of gay and lesbian artists who have written, or tried to write, anthems for us they often come out trite and belaboring. Not Jamie's songs. And, not only that, she can write songs that make you rock, and songs that make you get so serious that you just have to stop and reflect on the images she's created. And then she turns around and sings one of her funny songs, that's just intended to be nothing but silly, and pow, you're smiling despite yourself.
This interview gave me an opportunity to ask Jamie about some of my favorites from her past albums and I certainly take advantage of that. Okay, let's get started.
Jamie, welcome to QMH
thanks jd it's a great pleasure to be here
could you describe your musical style to someone who hasn't heard it
I'm a contemporary folk singer songwriter with a touch of country rock and world beat, and, I do a couple blues tunes too
who is your audience?
I think most of the people who listen to my music are lesbians, I do have a few straight fans and a few gay men who are fans too
is it important for you to be out?
yeah, it's very important for me to be out, because that's one of the ways that I maintain the emotional integrity of my songs. If you're lying about who you are, then, how good is the song? I mean, it's emotion that really drives a good song. I think it's important too to be a good role model especially for teenagers who are questioning their sexuality or for adults who might want to come out, or even for somebody is straight who wants a way to support their gay lesbian and bisexual friends
what gay & lesbian artists do you admire?
it's a long list, I'll touch on a few of them. I have a great deal of admiration for Meg Christian, I think she's a fabulous guitar player, a great writer, a good singer, she had wonderful stage presence, it was always great to see her in concert and she was an out lesbian, a feminist and said what she thought, and I really admire that.
I'm also a big fan of Romanovsky & Phillips. They started performing in the 70s and unfortunately they're not together anymore, but they were so brave and so courageous. They were pioneers, for lack of a better word, that's really not a very good word. Someone called me a pioneer one time and I was like kind of tempted to go run for my bonnet and my covered wagon, you know, it felt kind of weird, but they were, you know. They started performing as an Out gay couple in the 70s and went through a lot of crapola from straight audiences, and even from you know gay and lesbian audiences, but they persevered and they put on a real entertaining show, one that was politically aware but fun, and I really miss them, I wish they were still performing.
You're not the first artist I've heard make those comments. When I interviewed Suede last June she also singled out Romanovsky & Phillips as being trail blazers for gay & lesbian artists. So, what was your first exposure to women's music?
Back in the late 70s I frequented a women's bookstore in Phoenix where I was living. And I'm a big reading junkie, so I was in there all the time getting books, and I used to see this rack of albums. Mostly I ignored them cause I thought, "who are these people, I don't hear them on the radio." Until one day I was in the store, and they had an LP that had a picture of an orange can, and it said lesbian concentrate on the can, and this was around the time that Anita Bryant, who was a spokesperson for the Florida Orange Juice Growers Association, was saying that you know homosexuality was going to ruin children and all kinds of weird stuff. Oh, she was part of a Save the Children Campaign, that's what she called it. Anyway, so the cover was kind of a spoof on that. And I picked up the cover and looked at it cause the cover was so funny, and I noticed it was a compilation, and I thought, well, the cover is funny, it's a compilation, it's got a lot of different artists on it, you know, so if I don't like some of them I may like others. Well, I'll take a chance, so I bought the album, and I took it home and just flipped over it. I mean, here are women singing about my life, and I'd never heard that before, and there was poetry on there, too, you know, talking about being a lesbian, and that was just so unique. And I went back to the bookstore and I bought all the albums of the individual artists who were on "Lesbian Concentrate." I had to own them. And not long after that, in '77, I went to my first women's music concert, and that was Therese Edell.
of what song that you've written are you the most proud?
I'm probably most proud of "a family of friends" which is a song I co-wrote with Sue Fink. The process of writing it was really exciting, both of us sitting at the piano, she had a lot of the song done already and she and wrote some of the words together and she was great to work with a songwriter like her cause I greatly respect her work and she's taught me a lot. It's a song that I often do at my concerts cause it's so empowering to hear everybody sing it with me. I've sung it at gay pride events and a few gigs that might have been hard if it weren't for that. I did a gig in Virginia a few years ago where I was asked to leave the stage, partly because they objected to me being an out lesbian and instead of leaving the stage I sang "a family of friends" and had everyone join me and there in that small folk coffee house in the basement of a church those 20 0r 25 people, straight, gay, sang that song with me and it was very strengthening to me at a time when I needed it, and I think that it helped them too.
I need to step in and give some background. Jamie mentioned Sue Fink, and for those of you who may not know, Sue Fink wrote one of our anthems, called "leaping lesbians" which appeared on the "Lesbian Concentrate" LP in 1977. And in 1992 Jamie produced a compilation album called "A Family of Friends." It included the work of a wide variety of women artists, showcasing a number of different styles of music. The artists included Alix Dobkin, Venus Envy, Sue Fink, Pam Hall, Diane Lindsay, June & Jean Millington, Leah Zicari and the group Yer Girlfriend, among others. And for the song "family of friends" a very special gathering was organized it combines the voices of such wonderful artists as Margie Adam, Robin Flower, Deidre McCalla, Cris Williamson, Tret Fure, Sue Fink, the Millingtons, Monica Grant, Therese Chandler, and Susan Herrick, to mention just some of them.
Jamie, how would you compare your recording of "family of friends" to the original version?
When we originally recorded "a family of friends," that was back in '92, a year before we released the album, and, what an experience that was, so exciting to be in a room full of vocalists, many of them women in women's music who I had admired for a long time, and some of them I hadn't really met before. I mean, there I was standing next to Deidre McCalla and Margie Adam was there, and Robin Flower, and June Millington, and lots of women that have been around for a while and have done things that I thought were just fabulous. So the energy was really high in the room cause we really liked being with each other, and we had a lot of fun figuring out the arrangements. We had never sung all together before. We just all gathered around the piano and went to it, and at the end of the day, we had this song. I wanted to rerecord "family of friends" partly because the original recording is going to be out of print in a year or so and I didn't want to put out the album again, to re-release it. Besides that, I wanted a version that was really more my own. I've been doing it at a lot of my concerts and often the audience sings along with me, and I get requests for it, and so I decided to put it on "Listen." And instead of having a room full of vocalists I invited four, and three of them had never met each other before. In just threw them all in the room together and they figured things out, and that recording has a more intimate feel, more like a few friends getting together and singing, and I like that.
I was very pleased that Jamie decided to rerecord the song for her new album so we can enjoy yet another version of it, and here it is.
Jamie Anderson-family of friends (2001)
I want to jump back in Jamie's career and ask about three of my favorite of her songs that deal with gay rights, so you'll get to hear her talk a little about each song before you hear it. From your "Center of Balance" CD from 1992, please tell us about "I'm sorry"
"I'm Sorry" is a satirical piece I wrote a few years ago. All I did was I took all the stuff that queers have been told over the years and I turned them around, you know, what if heterosexuals were the minority, and we were shaking our fingers at them, what would we say? I'm sorry that you're straight, where do I send the card? Stuff like that, it's another one of my songs that's been misunderstood over the years but I figure, heck, if I'm not pissing somebody off I'm not doing my job.
Jamie Anderson-I'm sorry (1992)
And, your 1993 album "Bad Hair Day" gave us "wedding song" and "wynona, why not" .
"Wedding Song" was inspired by an invitation I received a wedding and it was from a woman who had been a lesbian and met a man, fell in love with him and decided to get married. And this all happened over about a year's time, and we weren't in close contact with each other, but she still considered me a friend, so she sent me an invitation. And I thought it would be really fun to dance with her at the wedding reception, so I wrote the song, and then I went to the wedding reception, maybe I wrote the song after the wedding reception, I can't remember now, it was many years ago. But at any rate, in the one year's time, she had changed her whole circle of friends. So, there I was at the wedding reception with all of these people I'd never met before, it was really odd. And I think that the maid of honor and me were the only lesbians there. I didn't stay very long, I felt a little uncomfortable. Not long after that, two or three years probably, another friend of mine got married. And again she was someone that identified as a lesbian and had met a man and fell in love with him. But she treated it all differently, she didn't change her whole circle of friends. She kept all her lesbian friends, she had bi friends, she had straight friends. And we had this great wedding reception. She had the DJ put on "wedding song" and then she dragged me out to the dance floor, still wearing the long white gown and everything, and she was yelling out to the crowd, "this is Jamie Anderson's song, and I'm going to dance with her.
Jamie Anderson-wedding song (1993)
Well, I thought "wynona, why not" had nice alliteration in it. I remember on one of my long drives, when I was on tour I just jotted down that phrase, and I always thought Wynona was a little on the butch side. I have to confess I don't really have crush on her, but I knew that other women did and that would be fun to write a song about her, and by the way I think she's a fabulous artist. I don't know if she's heard the song, I never got a letter from her attorneys or anything, so I don't know.
Jamie Anderson-wynona, why not (1993)
That was a bit of "wynona, why
Lisa Koch quote:
And, it's only fair to hear Jamie's comments about working with Lisa :
Lisa Koch is
not only a scream on stage, she's very funny offstage, she produced
my "never assume"
We won't be able to cover some of her other songs that I consider classics, like "no closet", "straight girl blues," and "I wanna be a straight guy," all of which I've played on my show in the past. But before we get back to the new album, I wanted to ask Jamie a question about songwriting. Jamie, how you go about writing a humorous song, is there some means that works for you or does the muse have to hit?
Writing a humorous song is not much different for me than writing a serious song. I carry a notebook with me all the time. And I jot down song ideas whenever I get them. I have a terrible memory so if I tried to remember stuff like that when I finally sat down to write a song I would just draw a blank. So I carry this notebook around with me in my purse, in my pocket, and I jot down a topic a line, or sometimes I steal pieces of conversation or a news item, I hear on the radio or something. And when I'm in the space to write, I sit down with my guitar and I flip through that book and sometimes I land on the humorous idea and sometimes the more serious ones. And sometimes when I'm sitting down to write a serious song it comes out funny, or vice versa. And, yeah the muse has to pretty much wham me over the head pretty hard for me to be inspired to write, and for me to be in a space to write
Okay, from the new CD, the song "Listen" ..it's a little bit heavy, can you tell us about it?
"Listen" was one of the hardest songs on the album to write and to perform because it makes me feel vulnerable, I didn't do it for almost a year after I wrote it because I was so afraid of the song, but I did play it for a few close friends, and for one or two audiences, and they really seemed to like it, you know even though it was scary for me, they enjoyed the song, so I sort of got away from my fear and started doing the song, and it got an interesting reaction. There are a few audiences that forgot to clap, right away, you know they just sat there, and at first I was worried about this reaction, I asked a friend of mine about it and she said, Jamie, it's just that the song is so raw, they're a little stunned, so I took that as a positive response ..
why did you make it the title track?
Now the reason that I made it the title cut of my album was for two reasons. One, I liked the title. I liked making the title of a CD "Listen," cause that's what I'd like people to do. But also folks like the song and even though it's scary I thought I should draw some attention to it. I have this saying above my desk that I look at all the time. It's a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt and it says, "You must do the thing you cannot do," and putting the song on an album titling the CD after it is something I thought I couldn't do
Jamie Anderson-listen (2001)
Jamie wanted to slip in some closing remarks
JD, I want to thank you for all that you've done for queer music. I appreciate the history that you present in your queer heritage shows and on This Way Out, and I'm glad that somebody is preserving our history. I don't want people to forget about performers like Ma Rainey and Romanovsky and Phillips, and Meg Christian, and I'm afraid that that would happen if it weren't for people like you. There was a guy in the early 1900's named Allen Lomax who did a lot of field recordings of folk artists all over the country and if it weren't for him we wouldn't know or hear a lot of Appalachian tunes, tunes from other parts of the country. He just went out with a recording, a big recording machine and filed these away with the Library of Congress, and they've proven very valuable in knowing our history for folk music. And I think that in some sense you fill that place for queer music. Now, you're not out there recording it yourself, but you're collecting all that music. And you're the most knowledgeable person about queer music, and I really appreciate your work, thank you.
Well, thank you very much, it's always nice to be appreciated, and even nicer when it's for a labor of love. I do try to do these shows with a sense of history, so it's a special treat when I can get the artists themselves talking about their music. And copies of these shows currently go to three different gay & lesbian archives, so, folks in the future will be able to hear about our music. Okay, enough about me and QMH.
Time does not allow us to get to some of the other songs on Jamie's new CD that deserve attention, there are songs about relationships, about adoption, gun control, and potato chips and they all work well together. I had a real problem choosing which of the songs from the new CD to use to end the show it was a toss up between the really sexy song "I wanna drive" or the song about being out of a relationship and the only thing that she missed was the dog .I went for the dog .even if it did mean that my show would end with the word "butt" oh, well.
So, before we hear the song, I want to thank you all for tuning in to the show, and I want to thank the 4D-Ykes for their interview. It was so nice to share their music with you. And a special thanks to Jamie Anderson for my feature interview. I hope I didn't gush too much, but interviewing one of my favorites was a real treat for me. You can find out more about her music at www.jamieanderson.com. If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write to me, and don't forget to check out my website. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back on the 4th Monday of next month with another installment of Queer Music Heritage.
Now, from Jamie Anderson's new CD
"Listen" here is 'I miss the dog."