Dear Readers, I received some truly wonderful news this morning. The sort that filled my heart with a warm gladness that stayed with me throughout the day. The kind that kept me smiling despite the attempts of others to make me frown. Pray tell, you ask? Well, alright. Nestled in amongst the spam of my inbox, I found a mail from one of my Dearest Friends announcing the birth of his second daughter, Kyra, on Sunday night. Despite a precipitous arrival, both mother and baby are fine.
Now there is nothing I find more hopeful, more joyous, than the arrival of a new life. But on top of that, wee Kyra seems to have been born on a most propitious date. For 4 June, as her proud father advised in his mail, is a good day for Girl Power. On that date in 1919, the U.S. Senate voted in favour of the 19th Amendment giving women the Constitutional right to vote. It is also the birthday of both Angelina Jolie and Dr Ruth Westheimer. In addition, I pointed out to Dearest Friend that his newborn shares a first name with Belgian garage rock goddess Kyra Rubella, she of The Headcoatees fame. So indeed, the planetary alignment is most favourable. Welcome, petite Kyra, and may you shine as brightly and fiercely as the auspicious star under which you were born.
And so, to celebrate Grrl Power and the new arrival, I offer a few subjectively chosen tracks. I hope Kyra will take inspiration, though her folks might want to watch the lyric content a bit for the first several years...
PJ Harvey - Sheela Na Gig (buy here)
Her debut album, Dry, left me walking around with jaw on floor for weeks. A wonderful, wonderful declaration of empowerment. Find out what Polly Jean did next here .
Silverfish - Big Bad Baby Pig Squeal (buy here for as little as ONE SKINNY YANKEE PENNY!!)
All together now: "Hips, tits, lips, POWER!!" Early Camden proto-riot grrl band fronted by formidable, bellowing Scot Leslie Rankine. In 1993 Leslie changed direction somewhat and formed trip-hop band Ruby, which I must admit I never could quite get into. Still, full marks for daring to be different.
Huggy Bear - Her Jazz (buy here at an extortionate price)
Proclaimed the arrival of a new renegade girl/boy hypernation back in 1993. Shock troops of the riot grrl movement in the UK. Learn your history here.
A-Lines - Four (buy here)
Kyra's current band, also staffed by Bongo Debbie and the lovely Nurse Julie. Indeed, the first two are ex-wives of Wild Billy Childish and the last is his current one. Yes, it is a bit soap-opera (sidebar: Chere Mam'selle Crumbcake has a fantastic personal Billy/Kyra anecdote here) but everyone seems to be getting along. Gloriously. Rockingly. Visit them here.
Lotte Lenya - Morität Von Mackie Messer (buy here)
You may remember her for her role as Rosa Klebb, the lesbian SPECTRE agent who tried to kill James Bond with blade-tipped shoes in From Russia With Love. However, she was the longtime collaborator of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, and for twenty years was also Weill's wife (EDIT: Thanks to wenhaston for spotting my error). Her performances of Brecht's & Weill's work are second-to-none. Herewith Mack The Knife as it was meant to be.
Jenny Toomey - Your Inarticulate Boyfriend (buy here)
Co-founder of seminal indie label Simple Machines and passionate advocate of the independent musician. A force to be admired and reckoned with. Oh, and she makes some sweet, sweet music.
Celia Cruz - Liego La Zafra (buy here)
The Queen of Cuban Rythm - without a doubt!! Listen, love, and visit the Smithsonian web exhibit that tells you far more about her life and music than I possibly could. Azucar!!
X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage, Up Yours (buy here)
The in-your-faces-with-braces Polly Styrene was the antithesis of the singer-as-Barbie model. Little girls should be seen AND heard.
It's a good job Kyra arrived when she did and not on her due date of 6/6/06. Otherwise I would have ended up posting The Charlie Daniels Band, Slayer, Deicide, and, if you were lucky, a spot of Bauhaus (EDIT: But you simply MUST read this).
OK, I can tell from your faces that you REALLY want the Charlie Daniels. So here you go:
Charlie Daniels Band - Devil Went Down to Georgia (buy here)
Oh, alright, alright, stop making those mournful eyes at me. Here's the Slayer:
Slayer - Disciple (buy here and celebrate National Day of Slayer with judicious suggestions from here)
Now look, just stop it. No more whining. Right, here's the Bauhaus. Now let me go to bed.
Bauhaus - Silent Hedges (buy here)
5 hours ago