I am a poster girl with no poster :: Ani DiFranco :: My Favorite Artists

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Ani DiFranco :: My Favorite Artists

It had been awhile since Ani and I had done some singing-a-long together. We hadn’t broke up, or anything, I just had lost track of her music for awhile. It happens sometimes, even with my favorite artists, but they always come back to me, and I to them. I was going through a “listography” exercise listing songs that reminded me of loves and lovers in my life, and one of Ani’s songs was on that list. School Night brought me back swinging (and singing), and suddenly I found myself on an Ani binge.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Ani play live four times, once in a small university venue, by far my favorite of the live shows. Her music is intrinsically woven into my mid-to-late 90’s memories of people and places and music and mix tapes I made, and was given. She also reminds me of two special someones who came into my life, shook up my life, and teach me vital things about creating art, experiencing life, and the limitless capacity of love. Her music is loaded with emotion for me, especially the albums Little Plastic Castles, Not a Pretty Girl, and Out of Range.

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I know the last time that Ani’s music impacted my life I was hurt by a song. Well, it wasn’t the songs fault, per se, but the use of the song in a painful argument with someone who was dear to me. The song was used as a bullet in a gun that was loaded with accusations and unfair definitions, and the shots fired hit me deep inside. Perhaps that was what signaled the Ani-break I’ve been on. But the wounds have healed, and I’ve realized where the battle stemmed from, and why the aim was taken at all. I’ve let it go and moved on, and yes, I have missed Ani’s music so much. Our reuniting was long overdue, and to celebrate the Ani music make-up binge I thought I’d share my feelings, and my top 10 songs, from Ani DiFranco on this first day of December. Hope you enjoy and share your feelings and favorite songs in the comments.

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Ani DiFranco, born Angela Maria DiFranco in 1970, is an American singer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, poet and songwriter. She has released more than 20 albums and is widely considered a feminist icon. DiFranco has received positive feedback from critics for much of her career.

Although DiFranco’s music has been classified as both folk rock and alternative rock, she has reached across genres since her earliest albums incorporating first punk, then funk, hip hop, and jazz influences. She was one of the first independent musicians to create her own record label (Righteous Babe), a move that has given her significant creative freedom.

From the earliest days of her career, DiFranco has lent her voice and her name to a broad range of social movements, performing benefit concerts, appearing on benefit albums, and speaking at rallies. Through the Righteous Babe Foundation, DiFranco has backed various grassroots cultural and political organizations, supporting causes ranging from abortion rights to gay visibility.

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DiFranco has been a critical success for much of her career, though not a commercial one by major label standards. Living in Clip, DiFranco’s 1998 double live album, is the only one to achieve gold record status to date.

Starting in 2003, DiFranco was nominated four consecutive times for Best Recording Package at the Grammy Awards, winning in 2004, for Evolve.

On July 21, 2006, DiFranco received the “Woman of Courage Award” at the National Organization for Women (NOW) Conference and Young Feminist Summit in Albany, New York. Past winners have included singer and actress Barbra Streisand and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. DiFranco is one of the first musicians to receive the award, given each year to a woman who has set herself apart by her contributions to the feminist movement.

In 2009 DiFranco became a Woody Guthrie Award recipient, as a voice of positive social change.

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DiFranco was one of the first independent artists to own her own label, she cites her anti-corporate ethos for the main reason she decided to start her own label. This has allowed her a considerable degree of creative freedom over the years, including, for example, providing all instrumentals and vocals and recording the album herself at her home on an analog 8-track reel to reel, and handling much of the artwork and packaging design for her 2004 album Educated Guess.

The business grew organically starting in 1990 with the first cassette tape. Connections were made when women in colleges started duplicating and sharing tapes. Offers to play at colleges started coming in and her popularity grew largely by word of mouth and through women’s groups or organizations. Zango and Goldenrod, two music distributors specializing in women’s music, started carrying DiFranco’s music. In general they sold music to independent music stores and women’s book stores. In 1995 Righteous Babe Records signed with Koch International for DiFranco’s release of Not a Pretty Girl. Her records could then be found in large and small record stores alike.

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My Top 10 Favorite Ani DiFranco Songs

1. 32 Flavors
from the album, Not a Pretty Girl

“And god help you if you are an ugly girl,
course too pretty is also your doom,
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred,
for the prettiest girl in the room.
And god help you if you are a phoenix,
and you dare to rise up from the ash,
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy,
while you are just flying back.”

2. School Night
from the album, Reckoning

And you’ll never know, dear,
just how much I loved you,
you’ll probably think this was just my big excuse,
but i stand committed to a love that came before you,
and the fact that I adore you,
is but one of my truths.”

3. Little Plastic Castle
from the album, Little Plastic Castle

“Quick someone call the girl police,
and file a report.”

4. You Had Time
from the album, Out of Range

“You are a china shop,
and I am a bull.
You are really good food,
and I am full.”

5. As Is
from the album, Little Plastic Castle

“Just give up and admit you’re an asshole,
You would be in some good company,
and I think you’d find that your friends would forgive you,
or maybe I am just speaking for me.”

6. Untouchable Face
from the album, Dilate

“Tell you the truth I prefer the worst of you,
too bad you had to have a better half.”

7. Fuel 
from the album, Little Plastic Castle

“People used to make records,
as in a record of an event,
the event of people playing music in a room.
Now everything is cross-marketing,
its about sunglasses and shoes,
or guns and drugs,
you choose?”

8. She Says
from the album, No So Soft

“I say I think I really have to go now,
but oh baby,
maybe someday,
maybe somehow.”

9. Two Little Girls
from the album, Little Plastic Castle

“So now you bring me your bruises so I can oh and ah at the display.
Maybe I’m supposed to make one of my famous jokes that makes everything okay.
Maybe I’m supposed to be the handsome prince who rides up and unties your hands.
Or, maybe I’m supposed to be the furrow-browed friend who thinks she understands.”

10. Not a Pretty Girl
from the album, Not a Pretty Girl

“And I am sorry,
I am not a maiden fair,
and I am not a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere.”

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