A Girl Thing

You can count on two things in life:

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Minnesota Progressive Project writing something face-palmingly stupid…

OK, that’s three things in life you can count on:

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Minnesota Progressive Project writing something face-palmingly stupid
  4. Every couple of years, someone writing an article about how “women are breaking into the all-male world of rock and roll”.

Dang.  That’s four.  Why, if I keep coming up with life’s immutable laws, it’ll look like the Minnesota Senate Recount.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah – articles about women conquering rock and roll.

Of course, it’s an easy article to write – if you’re completely clueless.  Rock and Roll’s “gender divide” – which is really more of a testosterone deficiency – was bridged thirty years ago this summer by Chrissy Hynde.  Countless others have followed – Joan Jett, Lita Ford, the Clams, Hole, Babes in Toyland, The Donnas and pallet-loads of others have risen, “conquered”, jumped the shark, and been forgotten just in time for another generation of “rock critics” (a group so useless they seem to have avoided being included in Obama’s “stimulus”) to twig to the next group of women.

And yet while the meme churns endlessly among the rock critics, the good ones just keep cranking out the stuff.

It’s not a huge secret that I’m a Springsteen buff. What would be a surprise is that I didn’t necessarily hold out a lot of hope for the solo career of Patti Scialfa when I first heard there was going to be one.  Part of it is the dismal record of superstars’ spouses; beyond Sonny Bono and Ike Turner, just look at what happened to Ray Davies and Jim Kerr after they married Chrissie Hynde.  And part of it is that whatever his epochal draw and influence as an artist himself, Springsteen can not be said to have launched the solo careers of those in his orbit (the solo careers of Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons never went far; Nils Lofgren was already on the career skids when he joined the band; Little Steven started out hot after leaving the E Street Band but came up desperately short of musical ideas; Max Weinberg became the Generation Y version of Doc Severinson after meeting Conan O’Brien) or whom he’s produced (quick – name one other than Gary “US” Bonds).

But Scialfa’s three solo albums – 1993’s Rumble Doll, 2004’s 23rd Street Lullaby and 2007’s Play It As It Lays – are surprisingly good. Although there shouldn’t be a surprise; Scialfa spent years working with all sortsof bands up and down the Jersey Shore before joining the E Street Band in 1984 (just a few days before I first saw her, on the opening run of the Born In The USA tour, at the old Saint Paul Civic Center).

At any rate, all three of her albums are fantastic, low-key little gems.  Here’s “Looking For Elvis”, from Play It…

…and this is “As Long As I Can Be With You”, off of Rumble Doll

which was not only a great album in its own right, but for my money (gulp) better than anything Bruce himself put out in the ’90’s.

Worth a listen.

5 thoughts on “A Girl Thing

  1. This is what I love about the music service Rhapsody. All three albums are available for download to my MP3 without any additional charge. I’ll give them a listen this weekend.

    Do you listen to Lucinda Williams? I’d add her to the list of successful woman rockers even though she leans country.

  2. Yep.

    And that’d be probably the closest thing to a successful example – and Steve produced and did most of the writing.

  3. Actually, the Jukes were mostly Van Zandt’s thing. Springsteen wrote some stuff, but I don’t believe he produced anything.

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