Tag Archives: music

Violence, Women, and Art

5 Jun

Note: I drafted this post a few weeks ago, but hadn’t published it yet when events in the news spawned the #Yesallwomen conversation. I wasn’t sure I would publish it because I didn’t want to sound too preachy. But now, I’ve decided to, in the spirit of #Yesallwomen. (If you haven’t read the Twitter feed on that hashtag, do it. You will be amazed, horrified, nodding your head, saying ‘yes, me too’ and more).


Here’s my original post:

As someone who values and admires creativity, my ideals include validating and encouraging all art.  But reality has come smack dab up against my ideals.  Here’s the problem: violence against women.

The other day, I was listening to a streaming music station on my iPhone as I worked in the yard.  Happily, I clipped along to the playlist of one of my favorite artists. A song came on with a beat and lyricism that you cannot resist singing along to. It included a collaboration with a rap artist, embedded in the song. I love these collaborations – they’re super cool and interesting musically. I’d heard the song before, but had never really paid close attention to the lyrics. All the lyrics. As I did, they hit me like a ton of bricks. And I thought:

“This guy is calling a woman a b* and literally saying he’s going to eff her up because she isn’t pleasing him. And I’m singing it with him. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?” Yes, I was yelling at myself inside my head.

But then I said to myself, “Self, this isn’t the first song you’ve heard (or sung) with lyrics like this. Why are you freaking out now?”  And, then I freaked out even more at the fact that I hadn’t freaked out about this before. 

WHY hadn’t I freaked out before? WHEN did it become acceptable to glorify beating the stuffing out of a woman?  Are we in the Twilight Zone, people?  If you were to replace gender with race in these songs, people would completely lose it. And rightly so, because it would be wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Where is the outcry when these things are said against women?

In art, we explore many things. But when there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of songs which include lyrics that make it sound okay, normal or that glorify violence toward women, we are sending a message. A horrible message.  Millions of small choices make up our culture.  I, perhaps you, and millions of other men, women, teenagers and even young boys and girls are happily listening to lyrics that imply that women are: beneath men, here only to serve men, deserve to be harmed in some way if the men in their lives are not pleased.  And then we wonder why there is so much violence against women in the world. When we buy, stream and listen to these songs, we are saying it’s okay.  And, it’s NOT okay.

So, I’m making a small choice. I can only choose for myself, but I hope you’ll consider joining me. I’m not talking about censorship. I don’t believe in the big brother approach. I believe in the power of the market. The power of the people.  If people choose not to buy or otherwise support these songs, fewer of them will get made. Fewer of these hateful messages will be put out there.  And fewer little boys and little girls will grow up thinking that women are nothing but objects that deserve to be used and abused.

From now on, I will not buy songs that have a mysoginist message, I won’t stream them, and I’m removing them from my playlists. I admit I’ll be sad to see some of the songs go, because I do love me a nasty bassline. But it’s gotta be done.

Music to feed the soul and move the pen

4 Jan

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. -Victor Hugo

First and foremost, I’m a lover of music, even more than words. It’s the music that pulls the words from me. Since I was a kid, I’ve been the one to buy epic movie and television soundtracks, the one to must see a movie if it features a score by Howard Shore, John Williams or Hans Zimmer. I’m the mom who drives her kids crazy singing Les Miserables and Miss Saigon until they unwittingly sing along. I’m also the one who can possibly (maybe) stomach a horror movie if the music isn’t playing (hello, can’t they hear the scary music to know the hatchet man’s behind them?!).

Music is powerful. It can transform something from simple to complex, from ho-hum to amazing. I don’t think I could write two coherent sentences without the music playing in my ears (or in my head). Surprisingly, what has inspired me while writing both novels this past year have been songs by heavy metal groups.

I like the softer side of metal, and yes, there is such a thing. Since my husband hooked me on “our” song, Silent Lucidity by Queensryche, I’ve felt the pull to the heavier and alternative rock. Older songs from Metallica, Korn, and Linkin Park; newer songs from Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Hinder, Avenged Sevenfold. They all have plenty of the thrashing, bashing songs I had associated with them, of course, but they also have beautiful, haunting medleys that make me pause to grab my virtual pen. And I love it when the words actually fit what I’m writing at the time (before I wear the song out on iTunes).

So hats off to all the musicians who keep me entertained and inspired, including my fellow Chick Tracey, who wrote our very own theme song. I love recommendations, so please share if you have a favorite artist who inspires you! And fair warning, this probably won’t be the only post I write on music. It’s that important.

“We Need a Theme Song!”

4 Oct

That was the revelation exclaimed through no small amount of laughter or wine at a recent 4 Chicks girls night out. There, in the middle of our local Macaroni Grill, we proceeded to sing our favorite 80’s sitcom theme songs:

You take the good, you take the bad…Making your way in the world today…I don’t need you to worry for me, ’cause I’m alright…Sit right back and I’ll tell a tale, a tale of a frightful trip…Thank you for being a friend…Believe it or not, I’m walking on air…

Apparently, our singing and other entertaining commentary was to the amusement (or horror) of the our waitress Danielle and her manager, the latter who kindly comped our desert and last glass of wine, perhaps hoping we would leave more quickly.

At any rate, I–who for the record had not been drinking and should have known better–overheard myself enthusiastically volunteering to take on the task of writing us a theme song. It sounded fun, and in the presence of my Chicks, anything seems possible.

When I first sat down to do it, however, I was stuck. The thing is, for twenty years, I’ve told myself that “if” I had music lessons, or money, or more time, or someone who knew how to arrange, that I could be good at making songs.

But today, thanks to the support of the Chicks and the inspiring words of Julia Cameron’s books, I’m not afraid to be bad (or even just okay) at something I love. Creativity is the best kind of therapy, and all of us have an inner artist who needs to PLAY! ♥

The adjectives suggested to describe our blog became more interesting as the night went on, ending with "loud."

Enter our giveaway today when you subscribe to win a copy of the book that started it all for us Chicks, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I challenge you to read this book and not have it change your life.

Meanwhile, with a little help from the benevolent universe, the 4 Chicks will be “producing” this tune for our theme intro video, to be directed by our film maven, Chick Eva. Stay tuned!

Week 6 Task: A Room of Your Own

2 Oct

This week’s (actually, month’s) task is to find privacy in nurturing our art. Several examples given include taking a train ride, getting up an hour early, borrowing a key to a friend’s place.

Okay, so the nearest train to me is an attraction at the Magic Kingdom, getting up early is completely out of the question since I’m a night person, and borrowing a key would do no good since I would just be walking into similar hectic households as mine. I have found one outlet, though, that isn’t mentioned but for me is the only way to write:

Proof of potentially hectic life


I get the kids into bed, disappear into my room, put the headphones on, and turn on my iTunes “writing” playlist for the right tunes for the scene I’m working on. Anything from Howard Shore (gentle romance) to Korn (torture) to Disturbed (fleeing on a motorcycle) works for me. Simple, but it works. I can’t write without music. It provides me an escape from my reality into someone else’s.

Find your escape and use it! Hey, I have a busy (translated: BUSY) toddler and two sports-involved boys. I found my privacy, can you?

Back to Basics

7 Mar

This past weekend, I took my family to see Ethan Bortnick, a young musical prodigy who, at the tender age of 9, is in the middle of an 18-city concert tour. Young Ethan was very entertaining, a delight to watch. Even my boys, who thought they would be bored, loved the concert.

Prior to the concert, I read chapter one in Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World

: “Discovering a Sense of Origin.” While listening to Master Bortnick play a familiar waltz by one of my favorite composers, Chopin, something I read in Julia’s book resonated loud and clear with me. I love to play piano and used to play all the time. Now I feel like there’s no time, and when I do sit down to play, I usually give up because I don’t play as well as I used to.  However, as Julia writes, “…making art is a little like dieting. One day you just have to start and what you do that day is the beginning of success or failure. I cannot write an entire book today, but I can write one page. I cannot become an accomplished pianist, but I can put in fifteen minutes of piano time.”

I have found myself procrastinating, perhaps afraid of failure, not only with piano but with writing and, yes, dieting as well. So I went home, sat down, and plunked out Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 72 without worrying about hitting the wrong notes. And I had the best time, mistakes and all. I no longer will wait until “the right time” to play.

Something from the concert must have inspired my youngest son, who suddenly wanted me to teach him piano. So tonight, I sat down with him for an hour at the keys and will continue each week to give him lessons.

And will take the time afterward to play a few notes myself.

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