Here I sit on this overcast rainy day, taking a break between studying and more studying. I find relaxation while working on a new scene for fiction while clinging on an all time favorite musician of mine, Ani DiFranco. Song by song, she is reminding me of her greatest hits I have loved via iTunes. You see, even though her sound is so comfortable to me, I am still blown away by her; so blown away that I am inspired now to talk about her. I thought that because all of this, I owe ol' Ani a post. Most people have no clue who she is, which is a statement that has become less and less true in the past ten years.
Note: Ani DiFranco, you will find out, is not for everyone. I have a somewhat mixed audience here and would like to preface this article with this small caution. This is not about how much we should all follow and support the often out-spoken and boldly stated opinions of her own regarding politics, ethics, and general human experiences. This is about her as an artist, not about her as a philosopher.
Hopefully that huge, somewhat overhyped pre-statement didn't deter you. Thanks for sticking around to see where I'm going with this.
Here she is! Now, the new mother of a baby girl, Ani DiFranco lives in one of my favorite cities (New Orleans, go Saints!) in an enchanted life that she would probably argue was built solely by herself. Probably one of the coolest things about Ani DiFranco is how early her craft of music came to her. With her first guitar given to her by her parents when she was in elementary school, Ani DiFranco was playing Beatles covers with guitar teacher Michael Melrum in local bars by age nine. Yeah, you heard that right, nine.
I step out for a moment to ask this question:
What would you DO if you were out at a bar really digging on this live music (the Beatles) to look up after a few beers and see your entertainment is brought to you by someone not enough old enough to sit in the passenger seat of a car?!
Pretty cool, if you ask me.
She didn't stop there, either. When she was fifteen years old, she began living on her own and writing her own music--she would graduate from a visual and performing arts high school just a year later.
She tried signing with a record label shortly after. After submitting a sample to Sony Records and hearing back that they would love to help her, but she needed to tone down some of the content of her music, she decided to start her own record label: Righteous Babe Records. Since the age of eighteen, Ani has had a hand in every step of the publication of her music: from writing and composing the actual songs to producing and distributing her albums.
I saw her this spring while I was visiting New Orleans for the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. She played at a moderate to small venue, Tipitinas. The atmosphere of the show, despite several annoying crowd members who refused to let the little girl in front of them, was calm and comfortable--appropriate for a show in her own town. Despite all of the years and wonders created through her music, I found myself just as close to her during that show as I had been seven years earlier, standing in Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville at age fifteen.
I'm having a hard time finding the videos I caught of her that night. This might be more of a favor to my audience than a disappointment: my off-tune voice is heard way more dominately than hers since I am the camera operator during this clip as well. Unfortunately for some, I've got a great ability to easily remember song lyrics, especially those that are close to me. What that means for the poor people in the audience who decided to sit next to me, is that they get to hear me belt out songs for the entire night. It's like a crappier version of karaoke, but it invigorates me.
Here she is:
Here she is:
Lately I've been glaring in the mirrors, picking myself apart.
You'd think at my age I'd have thought of something better to do,
than making security into a full-time job;
making security into an art.
And I fear my life will be over
and I will have never lifted a feather
always glaring in the mirrors--
mad I don't look better...
But then, here's this tiny baby
and they say she looks just like me.
And she is smiling at me
with that present/infant glee.
Yes and I would defend 'til the end of the Earth
her perfect right to be...
So I'm beginning to see some problems
with the ongoing work of my mind.
And I've got myself a new mantra:
it says, "Don't forget to have a good time."
Don't let the sellers of stuff
Power enough to rob you
of your grace;
Love is all over the place.
There's nothing wrong with your face.
-Ani DiFranco, 2008, Present/Infant
*Written after the birth of her first daughter, obviously.
Happy Monday - find some music that inspires you on this overcast half summer/half fall day! (At least speaking for down here on the coast.)