by riese & bcw
We’re gonna talk about Ani DiFranco for a quick minute here.
Lesbians tend to have a lot of feelings about Ani DiFranco. Lots and lots of feelings. I’m having about six different feelings right now just writing this.
This is the first of what will be a multi-part feature devoted to the examination and appreciation of one Angela Maria DiFranco and her exhaustive contribution to the world of music and capital-F feelings.
You see, here at Autostraddle, some of us have a very deep, passionate love for Ani DiFranco and we know that some of you do, too. In fact, we (Riese and bcw) have so much love for Ani DiFranco that we can no longer do her justice via private conversations. We all need a little Ani-infused group therapy. A place to talk about how Dilate ripped our hearts out or how Imperfectly made us gay. A space reserved for us to collectively wonder what the hell she was thinking when she recorded that song “Swing” and if “Revelling” is about friendship or a love affair or both.
And you know what? If you don’t like or “get” Ani Difranco, that’s fine. But this is an Ani DiFranco APPRECIATION Club, not an Ani DiFranco Haters Club. Keep that in mind, commenters.
Because I’m gonna say something right now and I’m only gonna say it once: I am SO OVER lesbians (and other people) saying that they’re SO OVER Ani DiFranco. I get it, I do – many of us have gone through an Ani-discovery phase wherein we listened to her music ad nauseum and identified with every perfectly-chosen metaphor that she employed.
“She’s Ani Fucking DiFranco. Show some respect. She started her own record company (at 19, I might add) and has churned out an album a year for the last 500 years, plus side projects.”
Most of us have probably at some point felt at least somewhat stripped bare by her uncanny ability to put into words exactly what it is we’re feeling, better than we ever could, (making us go, “I never heard it put that way,” making us say, “what did you just say?”) and maybe now we’re not exactly there anymore. We can’t be tormented fifteen-year-old baby dykes forever, after all.
But dammit, she’s Ani Fucking DiFranco. Show some respect. She started her own record company (at 19, I might add) and has churned out an album a year for the last 500 years, plus side projects. She told Letterman she’d only do his show on the condition that she could play “Subdivision” and refused the invite when they told her no. She INVENTED THE PIANO KEY NECKTIE, for crying out loud. Okay not that last one. But she was there – with her weirdly-long right-hand fingernails, her shorn/colored/dreaded/wavy/shorn/wavy hair, her too-many double live albums, her impossibly-titled Up Up Up Up Up Up, her Andy Stochanskys and her Julie Wolfs and her Todd Sickafooses and her Maceo Parkers, her enough-already jazzy jam band phase post-To The Teeth, and her HUGE ASS BALLS – right when you needed her. And she’s still there today.
For some of us, Ani’s music has shaped who we are; changed the way we write, the way we think, the way we sing along, the way we lose love and the ways we get it back. We love her with the burning fire of a thousand suns and nobody can tell us otherwise. AND WE WANT YOU TO LOVE HER TOO. Because you’re worth it.
To kick things off — and to maybe get a few of you on board who are scratching your heads right now — we’re going to give you a quick rundown of some songs that just about everybody knows and/or loves. The bare essentials, if you will (and trust, we had a really hard time paring this list down). These are the songs that, if you don’t know them yet, you should probably hear before you try and hit on that cute girl with the dreads or the nose ring. Your mom has probably heard at least one of these songs. Get with the program. We love you, we want you to be better.
(Editor’s note: we wanted to link to the original album recordings of songs and in some cases the accompanying videos are a little bit random/awesome. Enjoy.)
32 Flavors (Not a Pretty Girl, 1995)
buy on itunes
bcw: I first heard this song covered by Alana Davis on the first release of the unfortunately-titled Canadian compilation album series “Women and Songs.” I thought it was brilliant, and when I read in the liner notes that it was actually Ani’s (and heard her much-better version) I fell in love.
Riese: I literally cannot listen to this song without thinking about Baskin-Robbins. All I hear is “Fuck you Baskin Robbins, where’s my Feminist Flava,” over & over again. The Alana Davis cover gave me vadge-rage for months because people said they loved it and I said YOU SHOULD SAVE YOUR LOVE FOR ANI.
You Had Time (Out of Range, 1994)
buy on itunes
Riese: Back in 2000, Fox aired a fantastic, critically adored yet short-lived documentary series called American High. The producers gave video cameras to ~15 high school students in suburban Chicago and it was so authentic and perfect and revelatory and honest that it obviously got canceled mid-season. The point is that I’d always liked this song, but when Ally drove home in her junky car listening to “You Had Time” on her car radio, probs from a mix tape — literally GOING HOME WITH NOTHING TO SAY AT THE TIME — it wedged itself under my ribs and is my “most played” Ani song on itunes. It’s how “artists” feel going home. Right?
bcw: Not sure what needs to be said here, other than GAAAHHHHHHHHCRYCRYCRY and don’t bother watching Lost and Delirious because it sucks (but was filmed at Bishops!)
Untouchable Face (Dilate, 1996)
buy on itunes
bcw: Who hasn’t been there? Anyone? Really? You’re lying. The only thing I can think of saying is “fuck you.”
Riese: That’s what she said. Also: yes. Everyone knows this one.
Both Hands (Like I Said, 1994)
buy on itunes
Riese: Remember when Kim who everyone had a crush on played Both Hands at our arts boarding school’s open mic night and she introduced it by saying it was Ani DiFranco’s best song and therefore it became Ani DiFranco’s best song? That was hot.
bcw: Remember when she had the Buffalo Symphony accompany her on this song? On like Living in Clip? I thought that must’ve been so weird for the musicians. But also like, holy crap, she’s got a SYMPHONY with her. Respect.
Shameless (Dilate, 1996)
buy on itunes
bcw: This is arguably the official Ani DiFranco queer girl anthem (though there are many – more on that later). I say this because I think I remember hearing an obscure live recording of this once and hearing all the dykes in the crowd cheer when she said the word “wife.” If you are a lesbian and you have not heard this song, stop everything you’re doing and listen to it right now. And think about that neighbor’s wife you’re coveting / coveted when there was too much drama.
Riese: I actually think the fact that it’s another “man’s” wife is incidental and it’s just about the velocity of an unstoppable sex/like thing with a person you can’t/shouldn’t “have” because they are taken but you’ve moved past “wrong/right” “explaining” “naming” or “shaming” into “they are going to be mad at us” because there is absolutely no fucking way you can stop THIS.
Back in the day, I had “we’re in a room without a door” as my “headline” on myspace and someone posted on my wall “then how did you get in?”
Regardless, listen to it right now and think about that neighbor’s wife you’re coveting.
(ETA: Now that I am listening to it as a “lesbian anthem,” I realize that bcw is probs totally right but I don’t care, that’s the beauty of Ani.)
Gravel (Little Plastic Castle, 1998)
buy on itunes
bcw: See, I’ve always thought this song was about a woman, but that’s probably because I was going through a big Indigo Girls phase at the time I first heard it. I don’t know, I just always imagined a middle-aged butch on her motorcycle pulling up to Ani’s house. I guess it’s probably not about a woman, which really doesn’t matter anyway. This song is about loving/hating/hating loving someone; I think a lot of us have been there / are there. Full disclosure: I used to play it in coffeehouses.
Riese: I like it when Ani gets angry about being sad/powerless, it gives you a reason to scream instead of cry or something.
Little Plastic Castle (Little Plastic Castle, 1998)
buy on itunes
Riese: Little Plastic Castle was the first Ani album I bought in a store the day it came out, as I’d been catching up for most years prior. Whenever you people yell at me in the comments, I want to yell SOMEONE CALL THE GIRL POLICE AND FILE A REPORT.
bcw: I used to wake up to this song every morning one summer when I was 16 years old, working in the kitchen at a summer camp. I thought the lines about the girl with the shaved head being the cutest and about the competition to see who could be the rudest and about the girl police were pretty much perfect, and it was the first time I heard her employ brass instruments in her music. When I heard that I remember thinking, “imagine what else she’s going to come up with.”
Riese: If someone ever says “look at you this morning, you are by far the cutest” to you, then you should probably kiss them right then and there. Or later, if the people might want to shoot you.
Not A Pretty Girl (Not A Pretty Girl, 1995)
buy on itunes
Riese: This was like, mid-90’s, driving in your stickshift beat-up second-hand Volvo, intentionally looking as ‘not pretty’ as you can via the wonders of mid-90’s “alternative” culture/style and smoking American Spirits and feeling like you can beat people up. But now it’s a whole new song to me as a grown-up “working artist” — “generally my generation wouldn’t be caught dead working for the man, but trouble is you gotta have yourself an alternate plan”? Word.
bcw: This song was, in some ways, one of my first feminist anthems. “Imagine you’re a girl just trying to finally come clean / Knowing full well they’d prefer you were dirty and smiling?” I mean come ON. That whole album is amazing – I think one of her all-around strongest. I can still put that album on today and let it play all the way through without feeling compelled to skip a track. Well maybe “The Million You Never Made” if I’m in mixed company.
Dilate (Dilate, 1996)
Riese: These lyrics are hands down totes the most apt description of a certain feeling than anything else ever written in the history of mankind and the English language AND I WILL THEREFORE PASTE SOME OF THE BEST LINES RIGHT HERE:
You are so lame
you always disappoint me
it’s kinda like our running joke
but it’s really not funny
I see you and I’m so unsatisfied
I see you and I dilate….
so i’ll walk the plank and i’ll jump with a smile
if i’m gonna go down
i’m gonna do it with style
and you won’t see me surrender
you won’t hear me confess
‘cuz you’ve left me with nothing
but i’ve worked with less
and i learn every room long enough
to make it to the door
and then i hear it click shut behind me
and every key works differently
i forget every time
and the forgetting defines me
that’s what defines me
when i say you sucked my brain out
the english translation
is i am in love with you
and it is no fun
If I had a penny for every time I thought “I just want you to live up to the image of you I create” I would be a bajillionaire. BAJILLIONS I TELL YOU.
bcw: It took me a little while to fully appreciate the beauty of the “sucked my brain out” line but once I got there, hoooo. The first few bars of this song always hit me like a punch to the solar plexus. Sometimes I have to skip it because shit gets too real.
Keep in mind, these are just songs that we personally think count among/are perceived as the “classics” – they’re not necessarily our all-time favorites.
We’ve got at least 5-10 more Ani Appreciation Club posts planned on a variety of topics, so sit tight. There will be juice and cookies next time!
Ani has always amazed me- in her style and her lyrics. “You Had Time”-if it doesn’t make you cry, then you’re dead.
dead/alive, one cant exist without the other so if one does not cry maybe its your who is alive and not me that is dead.
Logical fallacy. The two are opposites and also mutually exclusive, you have that right, but they are only mutually exclusive when applied to a single organism. The fact that someone else is alive does not rule out the possibility of you being dead. So cry! And live!
Anyone in Toronto want to see Ani in concert Sat Apr 21st? I have a spare ticket.
LOVED the “Living in Clip” albums.
Live Ani. Gotta be live.
That whole album was yet another soundtrack to a bijreak-up!
I’m peeing myself seeing this, I can’t even wait to read it to tell you you’re totally awesome amazing and full of radness! Hugs from one Ani D. fan to another and will now proceed to reading your article ;)
I honestly can’t imagine trying to narrow this down to just a handful of songs. (I realize this is why there will be more). I just sometimes think after listening to Ani DiFranco’s music that everyone else might as well give up trying, cause no one will ever do what she does as well as she does it.
Also, can we have have a club on the side to appreciate danah boyd, who has maintained an Ani lyrics site for at least the past decade? Because I have to imagine I’m not the only person who spent hours scouring the site for Ani’s words before managing to accumulate everything she’s ever released.
I visit that site ~20x daily
The first Ani song I ever heard was a cover a Both Hands, and then I spent the next hours / weeks obsessively reading through every single lyric on that site multiple times. I will also join your club.
Honestly, danah.org/ani was one of the first gay sites I ever found as a teen. Huge appreciation from here.
Ditto – still use danah.org/ani
Oh my love/annoyed/annoyed by how much I love her relationship with Ani DiFranco. Seriously you guys, I’m so giddy about this Appreciation Club thing – thanks for doing it.
I had the VERY BEST EVER introduction to Ani when I was, like, 14-years-old. My older sister was into her and took me to see Ani LIVE at the Congress Theatre in Chicago. I had not heard a single note from her before then. But by about song two I was completely, pubescently, for life hooked.
That woman, I swear.
YOU GUYS. seriously i don’t even know what to do with this site anymore, maybe marry or eat it but probably marry it and then make it blueberry pancakes and granola every saturday morning.
but it’s sunday morning i miss you the most
but e, you know that it’s sunday morning i miss you the most.
edit: for realz, i love you
Ani DiFranco Appreciation Club. This has made me so happy! No one can compare to Ani. No one.
awesome, awesome post. ive never been obsessed with ani (not like i was with Melissa Ferrick – can she get an appreciation post, too?? heck, ill write it!), but there are certain tracks that will always be classic.
Both Hands – the very best. no question about it. beautiful and heartbreaking and sexy – come on, who hasnt hummed about writing graffiti on your body and bones as your bedframe while lying in a post-coital daze? clichéd, yes, but there’s a reason why cliches exist – theyre true…
oh and Shy – this is the song that i played on repeat when my 19 yr old self first kissed a girl and thought, this is terrifying and amazing and holy lord, i MUST do it again!
I’ll second a Melissa Ferrick appreciation post [very definitely obsessed].
i have basically come full circle – discovering ani on mixtapes, having dreadlocks and going to five million ani concerts when i was 17-20, being so over it, loving her again in a way i saw as ironic, and now just um, loving her. although that mostly seems to mean listening to my old cd of living in clip over and over again in my car. i feel like my ani-feelings are somehow exactly analogous to my being-queer experience in general.
the song that does the solar plexus thing to me is “shy” from living in clip. you know, that guitar thing in the begninning (dun, dun, dun-du-dun daa-dun. dun, dun, dun-du-dun daa-dun.) a crack in the concrete floor, etc.
there’s a bathroom in a gas station and i’ve locked myself in it to think about this comment, and i think you might be me circa 1998-2002. did you wear army pants? it was really hard to leave ‘shy’ off this list.
i DID wear army pants, around 2002-2004 i beleive. that was towards the end of my initial extremely serious ani loving phase.
I’m so in Appreciation Club!!! I was in the first time I saw her, 1990 at an open mic night in Rochester, NY. She had just turned 20. At first there were maybe a dozen of us, but each week the crowd grew, and each week she amazed us. We purchased her first recording, a home made tape from the truck of her car. She truly started a revolution in independent music and is still leading that charge! So fuck yeah, I’m in!!!
Make that the trunk of her car…
omg 1990 open mic night? that is serious serious serious cache on this club, you win
Thanks, but I was just in the right place at the right time. Ani made the magic. And, now you are making a place for us to celebrate that magic. THANK YOU – YOU WIN!!!
Thanks for making this! I literally own no Ani and I’ve been meaning to get into her music for awhile. But, when I decided to get some of her music, there was way too much to choose from and I was sorta intimidated. I’m off to (legally!) download all of these now…
Except for all of the songs that can’t make it into a collection when you’re limited to a double album, Canon is a pretty solid place to begin if you want an overview of Ani’s career.
The new version of Both Hands isn’t the best, and everyone should hear Self-Evident (which didn’t make the cut), and Gratitude and Swan Dive and Hour Follows Hour and Decree and Providence are necessary/not present. But if you’d like to start with one album – it’s a good way to get a bit of everything.
That’s good to know. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never listened to an Ani song and she’s done so much that I wouldn’t even know where to start.
I can see how getting started after 20 years of her career could be a bit overwhelming. (This is how I feel about many classic artists I know I should know better). The nice thing to know is that no matter where you start, you have a good chance of finding amazing.
i like your attitude leslie!
I FUCKING LOVE THIS SHIT! SO GOOD.
I first heard Ani at sleep away camp. Give someone a guitar and it’s either “Closer to Fine” or “Both Hands.” At least at my camp…
But alas this isn’t about Am & Em… it’s about Ani.
“Both Hands” kind of reminds me of something Better Porter would sing in an L-Word Musical…. when I heard it first I was like 11… oh camp. so many gay memories for me!
Now I am listening to it all, because I am 32 flavors and then sommmmmme.
You didn’t go to camp kinderland, did you? I was about to leave like, this exact comment. I think it may have been Out Of Range that we were obsessed with in our cabin.
I was listening to Ani before that because (weird trivia) I was born in Buffalo and my dad knew the guy who was her first guitar teacher and used to bring her to open mics when she was like, 11, but camp certainly got me way more obsessed (possibly because it was cooler than stealing my father’s CDs).
*and who used to. My dad didn’t bring her to the open mics. That would be way cooler.
You guys, this is amazing.
I appreciate Ani DiFranco for ‘Untouchable Face’, above all else. That song floors me every time.
Yes. Above all else.
Musically she is lacking for me but lyrically I love her.
And on a shallow note: she’s hot.. so there’s that.
Also, up until today I had no idea that “Untouchable Face” was the name of that song. A girl once sent it to me with the track name listed as “Fuck You” and so I just assumed that was its true name. In retrospect she was probably making some sort of point.
I totally said this during our pre-writing discussion — ‘everyone thinks this song is called ‘fuck you’
Yes yes YES! Ani has been in my heart since I was a lil’ one. I wrote her letters asking her to marry me at 13, though I didn’t come out til I was 24. I’m not so in touch with her current musical happenings, and it doesn’t matter, to me. I’d still marry her in a second!
oh fuck yes, im so in! i have so many feelings about so many songs. i dont even know what to say. i fucking love this woman. TOO MANY SONGS NEED MOAR EARS
i can’t, i just can’t, too many feelings
we met in a dream, we were both nineteen
Love, love, love this. BTW, I think it was Alana Davis, not Alannah Myles, that covered 32 Flavors for that Women and Songs compilation. Is it scary that I know that. Yes, it is.
Stout you’re so right! I totally Canadianified it for some reason.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I wrote something very similar to this when I was a “tormented fifteen-year-old baby dyke” because everyone I tried to puke out my Ani-love at was so pretentiously “over” her. Well look at her now pretense-bos, look at her being a headliner on Autostraddle – 7 years later. Get over that mo’fuckers.
I want to MAKE OUT with this article!
and possibly with all of you.
After spending most of high school listening to pretty much only Christina and Britney (because it was all I knew existed basically) I found out about Ani when I went to college and I think “Not A Pretty Girl” changed my life. But I didn’t quite realize the extent of the feelings I had for her until I saw her on Def Poetry Jam reciting “Coming Up”. Amazing stuff. She is amazing.
I definitely still love her, although I was a little late on the bandwagon. When the fuck did people stop appreciating her? She still gives me a lot of feelings. Head to toe type feelings. Thanks for reminding me why I love her and making me feel a little bit cool for loving her.
Thanks for this. I discovered Ani about six years ago, and it was like the whole world just…trembled. I had no idea what music could do until I heard Ani. There’s so much power in how raw and honest and open and just…human she is. She’s a musician and a poet and a visionary all rolled into one person, and she’s brilliant at all of it. And really where else can you find that?
Ani used to play at my college on an annual basis (cira ’95-’98), and I was lame and deeply closeted, and I did not know or care, and I never went to see her when I had the oppotunity to see her playing in a small room in the middle of the cornfields in the middle of America before most everyone knew who she was.
One night, one of my roomates brought home her used guitar strings, having worked on the lighting for the show, and I did not know, and I did not care, and I rolled my eyes at those strings (a classic kicking myself later moment). Shortly thereafter, I fell in love with, and had my heart toyed with for a while before being mercilessly stomped on by my (mostly) straight best friend. Around the same time, someone gifted me with a copy of “Dilate” and it was ALL OVER FROM THERE.
Fifteen years later and I still stand by “Dilate” as the best breakup/heartbrake/unrequited love album of all time.
Recently a friend who’s heart hurt real bad quoted Dilate back to me, which I had given her the first time she got her heart hurt real bad — “it’s like that ani song — the image of you i create or something?” and i was like oh obvs.
(sometimes reading my own comments i can’t believe i’m the editor of this website)
“sometimes reading my own comments i can’t believe i’m the editor of this website”
comments like these are one of the reasons i love that you’re the editor of this website.
The butter melts out of habit
The toast isn’t even warm
I always thought gravel was about a woman too
First comment after being at this site from inception to say:
Carnegie Hall 2002 is one of the best albums. Ever. It pulls me through eighty million emotions and no matter what I cry at the same part of Self Evident.
Also, Riese, I ran across the Taylor Swift infographic on tumblr and it wasn’t linked back to this awesome place and I asked her to and she did! Good deed of the day.
Keep on being awesome.
thank you for looking out saramaile!
This. Post. Made me cream my pants.
I maaaaaaaaaaaybe have a shrine to Ani next to my bed. Maybe.
Aniiiiiiiii. i can’t even talk about how much i love her.
If I had to pick a favorite song, it’d probably be “Fuel”.. because i think i actually changed a little inside after hearing it for the first time. i felt slightly altered afterwards, and angrier but also more at peace? god, i love that song.
“Studying Stones” is my most frequently played…
I am out here studying stones
trying to learn to be less alive
THOSE LYRICS. AHH.
basically, i adore this woman. i can’t wait to see her in concert for the first time in november!!
Circa ’04 roadtrip from AZ to CA I played a mix aptly named “Oh Fuck Yeah” with at least 5 of these songs and others. I screamed, she screamed, the world screamed! Love. This.
oh my god I am such an irresponsibly babygay i can’t believe i’ve never listened to ani difranco before this this is amazing
once again, autostraddle makes the world awesome
thank you, thank you
for the feminist and queer girl squee/flail moment i am having right now!!
this is amazing on so many levels I can’t even do it justice with a meaningful comment
I was a bit late to the Ani fan club. The first album I heard was Little Plastic Castle. I wore it out and also went straight to the store and bought all of her previous CDs.
I feel like Dilate (the song) is my life right now… sigh.
I used to be one of those haters. I would scoff at those RBR bumper stickers and FF when my friends put 32 Flavors on mixtapes. I was too punk rock to like Ani. Everyone loved her and I couldn’t understand why: she was just some girl with a guitar singing about her life. But my best friend made it her personal mission to covert me with endless ‘Intro to Ani’ mixes and 3 am discussions on her diy politics. Eventually, inevitably, obviously, all of her immersion therapy worked. I wasn’t listening to all of those mixes to appease my friend; I genuinely liked the music. The life being sung about could be mine or yours. It was amazing. And that was so scary to admit. It kind of changed my world to realize I could love something I thought impossible.
“Eventually, inevitably, obviously”
idk, love this
i was a hater once too. all my friends listened to living in clip in their tape decks and i thought her voice was annoying when she talked between tracks (someone should put a suggestion box by the door or something, move that bridge up, change the third verse) and sort of hated her because everyone else loved her and napoleon annoyed me (i stand by that). gradually i warmed up to her cover of amazing grace. on a drive upstate for the weekend i just gave myself over to it. and came around, and then became obsessed (eventually, inevitably, obviously).
Her cover of Amazing Grace just blows me away. No other version of it will ever matter again, or maybe it never did.
But that’s only one tiny slice of the Ani Appreciation pie.
I am so glad to be reminded that there are other people out there who narrate their lives in Ani lyrics. I can’t stand when I drop a perfect one in a group of people and no one gets where it came from. ;)
There should be a national Ani Difranco holiday.
I’ve been a major lurker/reader on here for a while–love love love the intelligence of AS posts!!– but i can’t pass up the chance to comment on Ani, since without her music i probably wouldn’t have gotten through my unrequited high school crush on a girl, or any of high school for that matter.
oh, and on an unrelated matter–for those of you reading the eileen myles book i just found out she’ll be at a poetry reading tonight at Barnard at 7, along with other women poets like ann waldman and elizabeth lorde-rollins (Audre Lorde’s daughter)…
I love Ani, and I really don’t understand people that are over her. How can you be over Ani? She has evolved so well over her career that I feel everyone on earth can enjoy at least one of her albums.
I came super late to the Ani party, and I kinda worked my way backwards. The first album of hers I listened to was Reprieve, and I bought it from a motherfucking Wal-Mart of all places. I was so blown away that I immediately had to find everything I could about her.
Now I’m much more a fan of her earlier stuff, especially Out Of Range (the album and song). Talk about balls, putting two versions of the same song on one album. Only Ani DiFranco.
I don’t know if this is kosher for an Ani fan, but I love the electric version (musically) much more than the acoustic. Just the raw, hyperactive, slightly sloppy feel of it really works for me. Like she’s still getting used to having a band with her, which by that point, this was only her second album where she had a band with her, right? But the acoustic version has has those harmonics at the end of the choruses which are amazing.
I think “You Had Time” is overall a better song, “Out Of Range” just hits me on a much deeper level.
i know, right? i was so confused when i first saw both versions like, “is that allowed? wow.” although i have to admit that while lyrically i’ve always appreciated ‘out of range’ the song, musically i’ve never really loved it. don’t know why. although IF YOU’RE NOT ANGRY YOU’RE JUST STUPID YOU DON’T CARE is one of her best lines imo.
…literally am who I am because of ani.
WHO SAYS I LIKE RIGHT ANGLES
THESE ARE NOT MY LAWS
Oh the nights I spent listening to School Night and how I would cry so hard I thought my chest was going to collapse. That’s the best way to describe what she does: she makes my chest want to cave in because every word she knows and the way she couples them is like a hot poker pressing into something soft. Sometimes there’s nothing as perfect and closing your eyes and listening to Done Wrong right against your ears. Or your heart. I think it’s more like right against your heart.
This made me realise that it’s been too long since I’ve sat and swallowed everything I love about her. And it’s clearly time for that to happen.
Oh my god, School Night. I was reading this waiting for someone to mention it and they hadn’t yet and I didn’t understand because, true or false, the lyrics on that are where she actually hits genius. Like, when I listened to it for the first time I turned round gaping like “Is this happening?” but there was no one there to talk to about it until my sister listened to it too. Aaahh.
Hoo boy. Ani was really an important part of my adolescence, she really got there at the right time. Practically the minute after I came out as bi when I was 13 the student director of a play I was in (this tiny really cool senior girl named Brandon — I mean, how gay is that) played some Ani for us in a car one time, and I was hooked from there. “Little Plastic Castle” had just come out and it was on repeat for the next five years of my life — appreciate the love that one gets in this post along with “Not a Pretty Girl.” Those were always my favorites. Seriously, she was there on my headphones through SO MANY FEELINGS.
And now I don’t listen to her at all. Sometimes I just get done with certain music, like “that was an event that happened, and then it stopped happening.” Also it can be kind of exhausting when an artist just keeps putting out albums. You know you’ll never catch up and it even becomes annoying. When music is important to me I want to be able to hold the whole thing inside me, and when I can’t, eventually I just let it unravel out of me and stop caring so much.
i heart heart heart this article and am excited about future articles/meetings of the fan club.
my first time seeing ani was at 16 when i borrowed my parents car saying i was going to a football game and drove to downtown chicago to see her. where i preceeded to dance, sing and faint in the crowd due to smoking something a very attractive girl passed me. i also repeated to myself several times “loving ani doesn’t make me gay”
15 years later i saw her in a small venue where everyone stayed seated. i listened to her political rants and loved her more. i also held the hand of the woman i’m going to marry and thought to myself “you were so gay back then”
thank you autostraddle!!
the heat is so great
it plays tricks with the eyes
it turns the road into water
and water into sky
what bugs me
is that you believe what you’re saying
what bothers me
is that you don’t know how you feel
what scares me
is that while you’re telling me stories
believe that they are real
oh, past relationships.
You just took me for a walk down memory lane. I’m so glad you posted this – it’s refreshing to find like minds out there. I haven’t listened to most of the songs in a long time because they bring back so much of my past and I feel way too emotionally vulnerable whenever I hear them. I loved reading about your memories of them. “She Says” though, has to be one of my all-time favourites, especially since I was just coming out when I bought that album.
you are a party and i am a school night. im looking for my door key but you are my porch light.
more perfect? anyone? i mean really. YOU’LL NEVER KNOW DEAR. JUST HOW MUCH I LOVED YOU. i may or may not be drinking in my house devouring ani after reading this post and realizing, after years of subsisting on ani in college, that i had not listen to her in probably over a year. its funny how we can get so cut off from the parts of ourselves that once seemed so essential. thanks for reminding me about who i am, autostraddlemeawesome
i stand committed
to the love that came before you
and the fact that i adore you
is just one of my truths
Oh I love you guys so much for posting this! Epic Win! Ani Group Hug!
After I heard ‘Not a Pretty Girl’ for the first time I thought “I had to find more music by this woman!”
Strangely enough a few months later I started dating a lovely older guy and he gave me ‘Like I Said’ to listen to, as well as some Tori Amos. I have him to thank for my Ani love these days – funny how things turn out.
My favourite Ani song has always been the recording of ‘She Says’ from that album.
Same guy got me into an excellent musician Amy Steinberg, who did a song with the line “If you’re a girl, date another girl. If you’re not already gay, turn gay”. Yes, I blame my ex ;)
I have long thought that there needs to be a primer for baby gays on what kind of music they should know about their predecessors and this includes Ani right at the top of the list. I am, also, SO OVER lesbians who say they are SO OVER Ani.
I would like to be a part of this club. i think ani gave me words for things i didn’t know how to describe, things i knew to be true, but didn’t have the words, the vocabulary to say it was so.
yay! as hannah commented: epic win, indeed!
I think, in the next club meeting, we should talk about: “your next bold move”
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“Two Little Girls” makes me cry. Every. Single. Time.
I’d always liked Two Little Girls but she sang it when I saw her in i think Dublin and sweet jesus. I think she is with you on this one.
I smell campfires and wet skinny-dipping jeans! Also? Ani knew I was a lesbian before I did.
love ani so much. amazing live performer… i’ll never forget when i saw her play ‘willing to fight’ at one of her shows upstate. GOD. DAMN.
I really wish I didn’t have to be at work in half an hour, so I could go back and listen to my 21343 GB of Ani that I have on my computer.
I bet Ani would have a lot of feelings about The Man keeping me down like this.
One of the saddest moments of my life was when, during a trip to Nashville circa 2003, my girlfriend’s vehicle was broken into and the culprits stole the entire selection of CDs I had brought on our road trip. All my Ani gone!! It was so upsetting on a number of levels but specifically because I just knew that whomever stole them probably had no clue who she was and could never appreciate what they meant to me. Like, they could have taken all the other CDs but leave my Ani. I’ve since replaced most of my collection, either on CD or digitally, but I miss those old discs. We went through a lot together.
You picked some fantastic songs. I’ll echo the comments about “Shy” and “Two Little Girls” and “Providence.” All terrific.
“Sorry I Am” also has a special place in my heart because … I mean, come on … who hasn’t felt that way at the end of a relationship? Red fading before blue.
And once upon a time, I felt like “Going Once” so perfectly described me during a particular period when I truly was “swinging through a jungle of last calls and first kisses.”
And fucking “Swan Dive” — oh my god! the brilliance of Swan Dive. “I’m gonna do my best swan dive into shark-infested waters. I’m gonna pull out my tampon and start splashing around.” Just spectacular.
I’ve just never come across another artist who can so perfectly paint a mental picture with her lyrics. It’s unbelievable.
I’ve enjoyed reading all your comments and memories and look forward to more meetings.
so, until yesterday when I downloaded all the above suggested songs and Canon since a greatest hits album seemed like a good place to start, I was an Ani DiFranco virgin. let me just say that I think all the songs, all of them, touched my soul on some level (which is a big deal since ‘musicians’ in my generation seem to be going with this one-to-two-half-way-decent-hits-on-a-whole-cd-thing). I might be in love. Thanks for that.
Welcome to the party
I’m having a damn good time.
I’m going to see Ani and Melissa Ferrick in November. With my ex-girlfriend. How much gayer can you get?
Yay! Thank you- I am inspired to listen to Ani right now. My first girlfriend did me a huge favour when she introduced me to Ani – it meant I could wallow deliciously in misery listening to Done Wrong a million times once we broke up.
I wish I could remember her concert at Royal Festival Hall in London, I think it was 2003. I was overwhelmed by the excitement of being among the biggest crowd of lesbians I had even seen, ever, and I can’t recall the show all that much….
Well, I’d never listened to Ani DiFranco before this, so that was kinda cool: cheers ^^
The songs, especially the lyrics, sound complicated and layered to me. Hopefully, at 31 yrs, I can skip over the “being over Ani” phase. I wasn’t such a big fan of the first two tracks listed: where the music seemed more atmospheric than emotional counterpoint, but I really liked the tracks off Dilate and Not a Pretty Girl. And I am not an angry girl ;)
I am from Buffalo, NY… When Ani was 17-20 or so, my mom and my Aunt used to bar tend for her. My Aunt was friends with her for a while. I also know her first guitar teacher, Mike Meldrum, quite well and have played at his open Mic at Nietzsche’s (the same one that Ani first started at!) And STILL I never saw Ani live until this summer (that was all before my time, I am only 18 and my mom kinda faded out of the Ani scene).
The ironic thing is I now live in New Mexico and saw her in Colorado. I made my mom come out and see her agian… she hasn’t seen her since the early ’90s
Needless to say, I had A FUCKING LOT OF FEELINGS. Probably too many…
My parents live down the street from Nietzsche’s and were friends with Mike back in the day! Buffalo represent :P I don’t live there anymore (was born there, have moved like 8 times since) but I just got back from a much needed visit.
I saw a picture of her wearing a shirt that said, “I had an abortion.” Pretty interesting – I had not seen anybody do that before.
I have this relationship with Ani where I forget just how awesome she is until I go see her in concert again and am blown away, or posts like this remind me that she makes some of my favourite music in the whole world, and her music says parts of my life and feelings that nobody else does. Why does this happen? I don’t know. In the interim I still find myself, when stressed or upset or just, i don’t know, alive, quoting Ani in my head all the time. I don’t think it’s even on a conscious level anymore. She has such perfect words.
Other than that I have too many Ani feelings to talk about. She meant a lot, a lot, a lot to a closeted 15-year-old in Catholic school who was the only one saying things like “maybe abortion isn’t a sin” and “i feel like sex is okay actually?”
Also, the first song of hers I listened to is Fixing Her Hair. It’s still one of my very favourites, but I’ve never seen anyone else mention it and I’ve seen her a bunch of times and she’s hasn’t played it and no one’s even called for it. What’s HAPPENING people. If you haven’t heard Fixing Her Hair you need to go listen to it right right right now. Possibly also Hour Follows Hour, idk. I want a renaissance.
Obviously I have all the Ani on my iTunes on shuffle just now, and I haven’t listened to her in so long. So if nothing else thank you for that.
you girls this is so exciting. we are going to have meeting number two this week, that’s how exciting we are. We are excited by your excitement. Also now I have School Night in my head, tell me what kind of gauge can quantify elation
what kind of equation could i possibly employ
Meeting number 2: EXCITED.
I apologize, this is totally off topic. What I want to know is this: bcw, how do you know about Bishop’s University?
i’m from ottawa/montreal.
Of course! I’m from Ottawa/MTL too. Did you got to Bishop’s? Ever make out on the white gazebo?
FINALLY a post about music that involves the Mastress!
That was “mastress,” you read it right.
School night floors me every time.
Pulse = one of the most gorgeous poems ever.
I just made all of these songs into a playlist, and, shit, it’s so strange/awful/wonderful how everysingleone has a story and/or memory attached to it for me, and probably for most of us. “She Says” is my current fave Ani song, though.
Best use of “Now More than Ever” in about a decade.
Also? Amazing. This is amazing.
SOOO AGREE WITH EVERYTHING!! SO AMAZING !! and DIlate also punched me in the solar plexus!!!
good for you!! keep it coming!
-screams in high pitched DiFranco-