WOMEN WHO ROCK: VISION, PASSION, POWER

FOR  Emmie, Pop’s first lesbian love song – see this blog’s  categories –  

WOMEN WHO ROCK: the exhibit opened in Cleveland at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame/Museum on Friday, May 13, 2011.  Currently overlooked is the list of 24 songs infra which feature the Women who pioneered  open  expressions of same-sex attraction in popular music, and those songs:

1. Emmie by Laura Nyro – released 3/ 3/68 – “Pop’s, first lesbian love song” – Alanna Nash E. W. Passion Player April 25, 1997


2. Timer by Laura Nyro released 3/3/68 “so let the wind blow Timer…I like her song”. 1:56-2:06

3. Désiree by Laura Nyro – released 11/17/71 – Laura Nyro’s personal attribution of  “Désiree” is one of the most undisguised professions of love by a woman singing to another woman ever recorded.

4.  Maggie May by Cathy Young –  Note her emphasis as she echoes“But you turned into a lover , oo, what a lover, you wore me out…”  1:55-2:03 – Recorded in October, 1972


5.  I Only Want to Be with You by Alix Dobkin on the album Lavender Jane released 1973.

6.  She loves me by Carol MacDonald of ISIS released 1974. //click link below for sample


http://www.last.fm/music/Isis/_/She+Loves+Me

7.  Gloria by Patti Smith released 1975


8. Sweet Woman by Cris Williamson released 1977


9.  Sunday Girl by Deborah Harry – Blondie released 1979 – as a Drag King –  “If your love was as sweet as mine I could be Sunday’s girl.”

10. High School Confidential by Carole Pope and Rough Trade – originally released 1980. NOTE the “Figleaf” at 1:52-1:55

1986 concert

11.  Valerie by Rindy Ross -Quarterflash -released 1981

12.  The Weakness In Me by Joan Armatrading – released 1982 – Arguably the First same-sex love triangle song. “this old love has me bound, but the new love cuts deep”


13.  Crimson & Clover by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts 1983


14.  When you were mine by Cyndi Lauper released 1983

15.  Roadnotes by Laura Nyro released 1984 – Mother’s Spiritual

16.  Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter by Phranc – released 1991


17.  If It Isn’t Her by Ani Difranco  released 1992 – “Standing like John Wayne, She is full frame. She is center stage…She says: ‘Do I know you?” “I say: ‘Well, no, not biblically.”

 

-following the link below will bring you to a nice vid that really punches this song’s lyrics-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyHF7nwmNxA

18.   I Kissed A Girl by Jill Sobule released 1995.

19.  Me and Mrs Jones by Sarah Jane Morris released 1995 and banned that year by the BBC

20. Tonight’s the Night by Janet Jackson released 1997

 

21.  Squeezebox Days by The Murmurs – released 1997. “Can’t we just spend the night together ? So I got something to think about tomorrow.”

22.   One More Hour by Sleater-Kinney released 1998. “In one more hour I will be gone…oh, you’ve got the darkest eyes…don’t say a word about the other girl.”

23.  Never Be The Same Again by Melanie C Sporty Spice and Lisa Left Eye Lopes released 1999.  Mel C:  “I’m hoping that you feel the same?” Left Eye: “Yeah.” at  1:02-1:07 –  This duet was unique in that the two women dialogue an open same-sex attraction.

 

live duet

Prove It On Me Blues by Ma Rainey performing as a Bull Dyke released 1928 – vj lucymusicfan. Please be sure to click the 2nd link below. The artwork, the cultural lesbiana, the lyrics, and the article by Jonathan Ned Katz are not to be missed.

see also 2nd link below by OutHistory.org

http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/Ma_Rainey’s_%22Prove_It_On_Me_Blues,%22_1928

Emmie, Pop’s first lesbian love song

 

Emmie is a track on the 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession by Laura Nyro released on March 3, 1968. Alanna Nash in her April 25, 1997, EW.com  music comment Passion Player* touted “Emmie” as “pop’s first lesbian love song.”

Pete Johnson in his June 1968 review of the song in Coast FM & Fine Arts (p.50) commented “There is a momentary shock at hearing a woman romancing another woman…”

Michele Kort in her biography of Laura Nyro, “Soul Picnic” reported on p.60, the Ellen Sander claim about her being the partial inspiration for “Emmie”. Laura’s reply was reputed to have been “…Well, it’s sort of a combination of you and someone else…”

Ari Fox Lauren, a recognized theorist on the music (sans lyrics) of Laura Nyro, is of the opinion, “Emmie” and “Désiree” “are open expressions of same-sex attraction on Laura’s part.”

Kathy G. in her May 4, 2008, blog on The G Spot “The G Spot Weekend Diva Blogging: Laura Nyro” wrote, “Emmie” is “a groundbreaking song in that it’s a pop song in which a female sings openly about her love for a woman.” DEFUNCT circa 8-14-11

The lyrics in “Emmie,” “Time to design a woman” along with both references to Mama in “Emmie your mama’s been a callin’ you” and “who stole Mama’s heart…” suggest a younger woman.

The lyrics “oo…who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? Darlin’ Emmie la, la, la, oo, la, la, la …” candidly describe intimate behavior.

The lyrics “…I swear you were born a weaver’s lover… born for the loom’s desire” act as a lovely metaphor to Emmie. Words that describe Emily as the lover born for Laura, the weaver of songs. The piano is the loom Laura weaves her songs upon.

It is undisputed that Laura Nyro and Maria Desiderio were eventual life partners. Deborah Sontag in her interview with Maria, then 43, in the October 26, 1997 article for the New York Times titled “Laura Nyro, an enigma wrapped in songs” confirmed the 15 year life partnership and described Maria as “a Brooklyn native.” According to Zoe Nicholson, Maria moved in with Laura, circa Labor Day Weekend 1982.

Michele Kort in Soul Picnic (p.196) wrote “None of Nyro’s close friends are certain how she met Maria…” Kort also wrote about Maria and “Laura- who friends say had not previously been with a woman lover-…”

Laura’s songs : “Timer” – 1968, “Emmie” – 1968, “Désiree” – 1971,  Roadnotes” – 1984, and “Walk the Dog and Light the Light” -1993, document an “on and off” relationship spanning thirty years, from 1967 to 1997, Laura’s death.

If as Kort reported in Soul Picnic p.196, Maria was Laura’s first “woman lover,” then it stands to reason that Maria was the inspiration for “Emmie.” The Sontag article in the New York Times corroborates, Maria as a native New Yorker. Maria was likely in the NYC Metropolitan Area. At that time, Maria was thirteen and Laura was nineteen. The two women became enamored of each other, circa 1967. Laura marked the occasion with the songs “Timer” “Emmie” and the back cover of ELI.  Young Italian women call it “flamma” (flame – It describes a crush, an intimate friendship between an older woman and a younger woman).

Havelock Ellis in the 1942, Random House edition of Studies in the Psychology of Sex Volume 1, Appendix B The School-Friendships of Girls pp. 868 et seq., p.870 identified eleven various characters of “flames” different from mere friendships.

“Emmie” illustrates, at least, seven of the eleven “flame” aspects: (5) “exaltation of the beloved’s qualities,” e.g. “you ornament the earth for me,” “the natural snow,” “the unstudied sea,” “you’re a cameo,” (7) “the absence of envy for the loved ones qualities,” e.g. “you’re a weaver’s lover,” “born for the loom’s desire,” (10) “the consciousness of doing a prohibited thing,“ e.g. “Emmie your Mama’s been a callin’ you,” even the jarring discordance in the music betrays the verboten nature of the crush/flame  [2:53 – 3:04] (9) “The vanity with which some respond to ‘flame’ declarations,” e.g. “oo who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? Darlin’ Emmie, la la la, oo la la la, oo la la la, oo la la la.” [3:05 – 3:30] (6) “the habit of writing the beloved’s name everywhere,” e.g. Emmie and Emily are recited 14 times in the song. The prevalent use (eight times) of the idiom “oo la la la” marks the song as something provocative and sexy. The bracketing of the lyrics “…who stole Mama’s heart and cuddled in her garden? Darlin’ Emmie…” between “oo…” and “…la la la…” underscores the physical nature of the intimacy.  The many women that were interviewed all agree that “cuddling in a woman’s garden is tantamount to fondling the female genitalia.

At the release of Eli, March 3, 1968, Maria was thirteen. Laura may have alluded to Maria’s tender age in”Timer”, “so let the wind blow Timer…I like her song and if the song goes minor I won’t mind.” Maria’s age was the same as the number of songs/confessions in Eli. Is this mere coincidence or a subterfuge common to “Flames?” Ellis p.870 (1).

Another aspect of “Flames” is the pleasure in preserving keepsakes. Ellis p.870,(11). The silhouetted picture on the vinyl back cover of Eli is a memento of Laura’s “flame,” Maria. In March 1968, Columbia released the thirteen-track vinyl record. Creativity wise, her recently negotiated four album contract with CBS gave her carte blanche. It was not an exaggeration that Laura listed herself on Eli’s back cover as “the writer, composer, voices, piano and witness to the confession.” As such, she would have been free of any inhibition in witnessing the confession in a graphic way.

On May 22, 2007,  Gregor von Kallahann, in his review of Soul Picnic for Amazon.com reported, “Even as a teenager growing up in a small town in Maine, some of my friends said knowingly… that Laura was ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual’ …How else could you explain that back cover on ELI…?”

There are the other explanations of the silhouetted picture being a double exposure and/or a three-quarter angle of a young Laura.  She Can Pinch And Squeal A Falsetto With The Best Of Them (A Rave Review) is the Brian Van der Horst,  April 1968 review of Eli in the New York Free Press, Critique – 4, p.8,  This was the article in which Brian, ingeniously, described the back  cover of ELI as “representing the parting chrysalis of her old life.” Assuming it true, notwithstanding, the back cover is a trophy of her then “flame” and eventual life partner, Maria Desiderio.

The vinyl back cover of ELI is worth a thousand confessions.

* Passion Player – Alanna Nash EW.com

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,287629,00.html