Wednesday, September 13, 2006
In my efforts to seek out more female songwriters, I have noticed a lot of angry women out there. I’m not saying they are wrong to be angry. I’m just saying it’s territory that’s been covered a good bit. There are also a lot of women whose music careers seem to be a running commentary on their love life. Then again, that’s what a lot of music deals with - Elvis Costello put it this way: “There are five things to write songs about: I'm leaving you. You're leaving me. I want you. You don't want me. I believe in something. Five subjects, and 12 notes. For all that, we musicians do pretty well.”
Dar Williams is remarkable in three ways. Her songs are beautiful and uniformly well-written, whether they are upbeat and lively or soulful and slow. She incorporates irony and humor in a lot of her work but often tackles serious subjects. And most importantly, she explores the point of view of women and issues that effect women without in any way being limited to talking about anger or romance.
She does sing about love. But the love in it’s myriad forms. The love of a child, love for family, love for a friend (which is explored in more than one song and in ways that I feel have long been neglected) as well as interesting thought provoking songs about romantic love. She has a love song of sorts in which she sings, “I won’t be your Yoko Ono.” and a surprising, beautiful, haunting love song in which Mary Magdalene laments letting go of Jesus.
She has a song from the perspective of a child who adores her babysitter and a great song about Southern California longing for the character and quirkiness of upstate New York. She sings about places loved, people remembered, cultural icons and obstacles overcome.
Many of the topics are so rarely explored and her perspective is so wholly and unwaveringly female. She even has a song called “When I was a boy” about the limitations society presses upon a woman as she grows up and the things she is forced to leave behind, as well as showing insight into similar sacrifices made by boys. Click here and here and here and here to listen to some of her music and you can find her website at darwilliams.com. Every woman should listen to Dar.