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Women Singer’s Playlist

November 5, 2009
Clattermonger's Women Singers Playlist

Clattermonger's Women Singers Playlist

I deliberately chose not to include anyone post-1980 – everything is 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. For singers of renown, eg Aretha Franklin, I went for the slightly less obvious song choices – in Aretha’s case, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied), which is still one that gets included on Greatest Hits collections, but it isn’t I Say A Little Prayer or Respect, (both of which are wonderful songs). And for the singers who aren’t as well know, I think the songs will be familiar when they are heard. For example, Go Now by Bessie Banks is in the public consciousness because of The Moody Blues’ cover.

I’ve also tried to include a mixture of UK and US singers, or in the case of PP Arnold, an American singer making a name for herself first in the UK (like Hendrix and The Walker Brothers).

One of the great things about pop music is the understanding of the human condition which comes through one person telling another person’s story. There are only two examples here of women singing songs they wrote themselves, (Ode to Billy Joe and Who Knows Where The Time Goes). But that doesn’t worry me in the slightest. Some people are interpreters of a song, not writers, and that’s enough – I saw Colin Redgrave in Waiting for Godot, and I don’t remember a single person saying ‘a fine performance but it’s not like he wrote it himself’. The idea that a person has to have written the song they sing or the performance isn’t true is nonsense. It’s plenty that fine singers are singing fine songs. And I could have easily chosen a song for each singer which was written by a woman – I could very probably have come up with a list of the same singers each doing a song which came from a women songwriter writing in the Brill Building. But in actual fact, there is a great mix of songwriters represented here – men, women, black, white, Jewish, Sufic, American, European. And that’s what I mean about one person telling another’s story – all people are at heart the same, and pop music is the perfect medium for showing that.

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