Catalogue


Solo : women singer-songwriters in their own words /
[edited] by Marc Woodworth and [photos by] Emma Hanson.
imprint
New York : Delta, 1998.
description
xiii, 368 p.
ISBN
0385324073
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
New York : Delta, 1998.
isbn
0385324073
catalogue key
2203322
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Sarah McLachlan I'm attracted to all kinds of beauty--erotic beauty, natural beauty. I'm fascinated by the human body and psyche as well as our spirituality, which I find very sensual too. I tend to experience the world in an intuitive way. I'm drawn to the tangible, to touch, the sensation of swimming in the warm ocean, of being naked and lying near the water, nobody around for miles, the perfect freedom to do whatever you want, to make love in the sun. Writing for me is also sensual and instinctive. That's the only way I know how to do it. Initially the process is very unconscious. Usually a song comes directly from what I'm going through or something a friend is experiencing. That's the starting point. From there I need to find a center--an image, a voice--which can bring together all the elements that particular experience brings up. I love music and art that show a person's duality, the beauty and the ugliness each one of us has within ourselves. To be able to love both of those aspects is a real challenge. If you succeed, you find harmony. Nature is a perfect example of the harmony between the beautiful and the brutal. You turn over a pretty rock and there are worms writhing underneath. I try to write lyrics like that. "Possession" is the most obvious example: "I'll kiss you so hard, I'll take your breath away." On the surface it seems like a love song, but if you choose to look at the other side, it's actually quite violent. Ultimately I write everything out of my own experience. It's all I can draw from that's real and tangible. I can look through other people's eyes and try to put myself in their place, try to feel what they're feeling, to be empathetic, but finally I have to bring my own experience to the writing. On one level "Possession" is about somebody else, but I'm putting myself into that voice. I'm able to do that because I've also been obsessed, if to a lesser degree. I can only write a song if I'm able to relate on some level to the emotion it conveys. Often putting myself into a character allows me the freedom to be more ruthless. I can let my ugly side out more easily when I hide behind a persona. We all create masks for ourselves, and I've done that in songs too. We've just got to remember they're masks. With the songs on Surfacing, I tried not to hide behind anything. If something is ugly, it's me being ugly rather than a character I'm speaking through. In therapy I've been learning to love even the parts of myself that aren't so nice. As a result, my writing tends to be more straightforward. Not all the lyrics have so many layers. Some of the recent songs are little rooms while in the past they've been mazes. Writing often comes solely from my own need to work something out. It's a selfish act. People ask me what I mean by a particular line. I tell them that what I mean is only for me. When I'm asked why I wrote a particular song, some people want me to answer, "Because I broke up with my boyfriend, who treated me like shit." Sorry, I'm not going there with a person I don't know that well. My life is a soap opera for myself and my close friends--nobody else. When I'm done writing a song, it becomes a gift to anyone who wants it. If you respond to it, it's yours. Then you have to take it into yourself and choose what you want from it. That's what's important, not what it means to me. The empathy of the spoken or sung word can be incredibly powerful if it relates something that's important to you. At some point we all need to hear our own thoughts resonating in another person's words so we can understand that each of us is not alone. If that empathy comes across on an emotional level, which is the level on which I write, then the private act of writing can make something happen beyond yourself. So as a musician I think of a song as the generous product of selfishness, and as a human being
Excerpt from Book
Sarah McLachlan I'm attracted to all kinds of beauty--erotic beauty, natural beauty. I'm fascinated by the human body and psyche as well as our spirituality, which I find very sensual too. I tend to experience the world in an intuitive way. I'm drawn to the tangible, to touch, the sensation of swimming in the warm ocean, of being naked and lying near the water, nobody around for miles, the perfect freedom to do whatever you want, to make love in the sun. Writing for me is also sensual and instinctive. That's the only way I know how to do it. Initially the process is very unconscious. Usually a song comes directly from what I'm going through or something a friend is experiencing. That's the starting point. From there I need to find a center--an image, a voice--which can bring together all the elements that particular experience brings up. I love music and art that show a person's duality, the beauty and the ugliness each one of us has within ourselves. To be able to love both of those aspects is a real challenge. If you succeed, you find harmony. Nature is a perfect example of the harmony between the beautiful and the brutal. You turn over a pretty rock and there are worms writhing underneath. I try to write lyrics like that. "Possession" is the most obvious example: "I'll kiss you so hard, I'll take your breath away." On the surface it seems like a love song, but if you choose to look at the other side, it's actually quite violent. Ultimately I write everything out of my own experience. It's all I can draw from that's real and tangible. I can look through other people's eyes and try to put myself in their place, try to feel what they're feeling, to be empathetic, but finally I have to bring my own experience to the writing. On one level "Possession" is about somebody else, but I'm putting myself into that voice. I'm able to do that because I've also been obsessed, if to a lesser degree. I can only write a song if I'm able to relate on some level to the emotion it conveys. Often putting myself into a character allows me the freedom to be more ruthless. I can let my ugly side out more easily when I hide behind a persona. We all create masks for ourselves, and I've done that in songs too. We've just got torememberthey're masks. With the songs onSurfacing,I tried not to hide behind anything. If something is ugly, it's me being ugly rather than a character I'm speaking through. In therapy I've been learning to love even the parts of myself that aren't so nice. As a result, my writing tends to be more straightforward. Not all the lyrics have so many layers. Some of the recent songs are little rooms while in the past they've been mazes. Writing often comes solely from my own need to work something out. It's a selfish act. People ask me what I mean by a particular line. I tell them that what I mean is only for me. When I'm asked why I wrote a particular song, some people want me to answer, "Because I broke up with my boyfriend, who treated me like shit." Sorry, I'm not going there with a person I don't know that well. My life is a soap opera for myself and my close friends--nobody else. When I'm done writing a song, it becomes a gift to anyone who wants it. If you respond to it, it's yours. Then you have to take it into yourself and choose what you want from it. That's what's important, not what it means to me. The empathy of the spoken or sung word can be incredibly powerful if it relates something that's important to you. At some point we all need to hear our own thoughts resonating in another person's words so we can understand that each of us is not alone. If that empathy comes across on an emotional level, which is the level on which I write, then the private act of writing can make something happen beyond yourself. So as a musician I think of a song as the generous product of selfishness, and as a human being I fe
First Chapter
Sarah McLachlan

I'm attracted to all kinds of beauty--erotic beauty, natural beauty. I'm fascinated by the human body and psyche as well as our spirituality, which I find very sensual too. I tend to experience the world in an intuitive way. I'm drawn to the tangible, to touch, the sensation of swimming in the warm ocean, of being naked and lying near the water, nobody around for miles, the perfect freedom to do whatever you want, to make love in the sun.

Writing for me is also sensual and instinctive. That's the only way I know how to do it. Initially the process is very unconscious. Usually a song comes directly from what I'm going through or something a friend is experiencing. That's the starting point. From there I need to find a center--an image, a voice--which can bring together all the elements that particular experience brings up.

I love music and art that show a person's duality, the beauty and the ugliness each one of us has within ourselves. To be able to love both of those aspects is a real challenge. If you succeed, you find harmony. Nature is a perfect example of the harmony between the beautiful and the brutal. You turn over a pretty rock and there are worms writhing underneath. I try to write lyrics like that. "Possession" is the most obvious example: "I'll kiss you so hard, I'll take your breath away." On the surface it seems like a love song, but if you choose to look at the other side, it's actually quite violent.

Ultimately I write everything out of my own experience. It's all I can draw from that's real and tangible. I can look through other people's eyes and try to put myself in their place, try to feel what they're feeling, to be empathetic, but finally I have to bring my own experience to the writing. On one level "Possession" is about somebody else, but I'm putting myself into that voice. I'm able to do that because I've also been obsessed, if to a lesser degree. I can only write a song if I'm able to relate on some level to the emotion it conveys. Often putting myself into a character allows me the freedom to be more ruthless. I can let my ugly side out more easily when I hide behind a persona. We all create masks for ourselves, and I've done that in songs too. We've just got to remember they're masks.

With the songs on Surfacing, I tried not to hide behind anything. If something is ugly, it's me being ugly rather than a character I'm speaking through. In therapy I've been learning to love even the parts of myself that aren't so nice. As a result, my writing tends to be more straightforward. Not all the lyrics have so many layers. Some of the recent songs are little rooms while in the past they've been mazes.

Writing often comes solely from my own need to work something out. It's a selfish act. People ask me what I mean by a particular line. I tell them that what I mean is only for me. When I'm asked why I wrote a particular song, some people want me to answer, "Because I broke up with my boyfriend, who treated me like shit." Sorry, I'm not going there with a person I don't know that well. My life is a soap opera for myself and my close friends--nobody else.

When I'm done writing a song, it becomes a gift to anyone who wants it. If you respond to it, it's yours. Then you have to take it into yourself and choose what you want from it. That's what's important, not what it means to me. The empathy of the spoken or sung word can be incredibly powerful if it relates something that's important to you. At some point we all need to hear our own thoughts resonating in another person's words so we can understand that each of us is not alone. If that empathy comes across on an emotional level, which is the level on which I write, then the private act of writing can make something happen beyond yourself.

So as a musician I think of a song as the generous product of selfishness, and as a human being I feel the word selfish gets a bad rap. If people were a little more ruthless about following their own desires, not to the point of stomping on other people to get what they want but in taking the time to figure out what they need, they'd be a hell of a lot happier. The light that comes from that kind of "selfishness" would shine, as opposed to what happens when decisions are based on what other people want for us or what we think other people want for us. If you only try to please others, you're going to resent those people you're trying to please, the ones who are often closest to you. If you choose a path that you yourself want to take, then you're going to be much kinder to the people in your life.

Think about the typical patriarchal marriage of the 1950s. The husband goes out and gets a job because he has a wife and two kids. Even though he hates that job, he feels stuck because he thinks of himself primarily as a provider for his family. He starts to resent his wife and kids because he gave up what he really wanted to do, to be a poet, for example. He doesn't consider that his wife and child would be a lot happier if he had become a poet because making that choice would have allowed him to love them more. In that sense I think the value of selfishness is underestimated.

My mother loves literature and wanted to be a writer but didn't get her master's degree when she was young. Instead she dropped out to put my dad through his Ph.D. program. I wish she could have continued with her writing and literary studies, but once she decided to put my dad through school and have kids those commitments ate up all of her time and energy. For many years she was so far away from those passions that it seemed impossible for her to go back to them. Recently, though, she returned to get her master's. I think it's fantastic that she came back to what she loved.

I was the youngest and the only daughter in my family. I have two older brothers. Because I was the only girl, I wasn't allowed to do anything. There was a serious double standard operating in our household. It was okay for my brothers to run around at all hours because they were boys, but if I went out, my parents thought I would automatically be raped, of course, so I was kept under lock and key. My brothers got caught doing every stupid thing when they were adolescents, so by the time I came along my parents knew all the tricks and I couldn't get away with anything.

My mom and I were one another's best friends when I was growing up. I wasn't very popular at school, so I didn't have many close friends there, and I was practically my mother's only friend. When I was fourteen or fifteen, our relationship was complicated by my desire to become my own person. For a while my mother didn't have as much faith in my choices or my ability to take care of myself as I wanted her to have. That's probably why I'm so adamant now about focusing on trust in relationships. Learning to trust is essential to everything, whether I'm raising my dog or writing songs. The process of songwriting is very much like giving birth to and bringing up a child. You have to nurture it, then give it space and trust in it, allow it to become what it is instead of forcing it in another direction.

Originally my parents wanted all of us to go to university. They were very much into the idea that if you get your degree, you get a good job. They wanted us to do well. As children of the Depression they went through that period of losing everything, barely scraping by, so they really wanted us to have the comfort zone that came with a good job. But at the same time they very much supported my creativity, both musically and artistically. Until I was seven years old, we lived in the country, but they drove me into Halifax to take classes at the art college every Saturday. Once we moved into town, I started taking music classes too. My parents really saw that my joy was in the arts, making music, drawing, entertaining. I looked at those activities as escapism then. When I sang and played, I'd get completely lost in what I was doing. During that time I was no longer this stupid, useless little ten-year-old who didn't have any friends; I was someplace else where none of that could touch me.

I spent a lot of time alone when I was a child, which I didn't mind at all. I felt an instinctual happiness when I was out by myself, lost in my own thoughts--the perfect temperament for an artist, I guess, but I certainly didn't know that then. The older I got, the more I was on the road as a musician, the more I lost that ability to be by myself. I was horrified to be alone because all the stuff that I hadn't been dealing with would bubble up to the surface. I  couldn't allow that to happen because I always had to be somewhere or meet someone in an hour or two. I knew if I let that rage out, it would be huge. I'd be a mess. I couldn't deal with those emotions in two months, let alone two hours, so I held them in, and those hours became weeks, months, and years.

But when I was young, I loved to be by myself. I lived quite close to the ocean, and we spent every summer at our lake, so I was in the water all the time. I have strong memories of floating, being underwater, then surfacing. It was a way to shed my skin and come up fresh. Water is the element of emotion, the element I'm most comfortable in. It's another world. It's not our place. We can't breathe there, but we all came from water. Surfacing is such a meaty word for me. When I told a friend that I was going to use it for the name of an album, she reminded me that it was the title of a Margaret Atwood book about a woman who goes up into the woods of northern Quebec--a rich connection because that's where I go to write and record.

I don't remember having too many physical fears as a kid. We lived in a pretty good neighborhood in Halifax, very middle class, and I knew most of the kids. The city was relatively safe then, and I walked the five blocks to elementary school on my own. I was, however, terrified of adults. I thought of myself as completely separate from them. When it came to adults, I had no voice of my own. Every adult seemed like an absolute ruler to me. Now I see kids at the age I was then who are capable of saying, "Fuck you, bitch," when I try to break up a fight. I think, "I'm an adult. How can you talk to me like that? God,  you have so much gall." I couldn't have imagined ever talking back to an adult, let alone saying something like that. I didn't like confrontation; I've always been that way. In junior high, especially, I got picked on a lot because I wanted so  desperately to fit in that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was picked on mercilessly by one girl, Laura, in particular, who was really nasty. She helped mold me into who I am. I guess I can thank her for that now.

Women talk a lot about how horrible it was for them to grow up in this culture, but I think men had it just as bad in a lot of ways. Men are raised with fathers as role models. What happens when those men are withdrawn and don't express any emotions, if they tell their sons not to be crybabies? The poor guys who have to grow up like that. We're all emotional beasts, and if you're told to deny that fact, then the wall you build up by the time you're eighteen is so high that it's very hard to break down, to achieve your capacity as a human, feeling person. So what men experience is just a different set of trials. Adolescence is the most horrendous stage to go through for everyone.

Despite my parents' academic ambitions for me, after I'd failed math enough times, they realized I wasn't going to be a scientist. It became clear that such a goal was pointless. I'd always say, "Mom, I'm going to be a musician or an artist; I don't need this." My mother would be aghast: "You're going to university, young lady. You're going to get a real job, and you're not going to be dependent on any man." To a large degree my mother raised us. My father was gone a lot, traveling, and even when he was home, he was on the periphery. My mother made it clear to me that I should not be dependent on anyone; that's one really beautiful thing she taught me. She didn't want to see me in a marriage where the husband was making all the money and had all the power and control. Her lesson has probably made me into more of a control freak than I need to be although I'm learning to let some of that go.

By high school it was clear that my passion was music. Even so, when I was in eleventh grade, my parents wouldn't let me accept a record company's offer to come to Vancouver for six weeks and test the waters as a singer and performer. My mother said, "Not a chance. You're failing math, young lady, and you're going to stay in school." After high school, though, they let me go to art college. The record company came back to offer me a five-record contract after I'd finished my first year at art school. At that point, even though I loved my classes, I couldn't turn the offer down. I knew if I didn't try it, I'd regret it for the rest of my life. I never really looked back after that.

When I left home for Vancouver at eighteen, things got better between my mother and me, in part because of the physical space between us. I came home almost a year later, still alive, looking very healthy and happy, with my first record in hand, something to show for my time away. That was a pivotal point for my mother. She could breathe a sigh of relief after worrying so much that I was going to be ruined, turn into a drug addict. The only thing she knew about the music industry was what she read in the papers after some rock star OD'd. When I came back safe and sound, she was able to relax. She really liked my record and began to feel that she could let me go a little bit. She was proud of me. It was really healthy for her to see that someone she had raised turned out well, that I wasn't a complete fuckup anyway.

More recently my relationship with my family has become even stronger. It's easy to try to blame other people for your problems. It's all too common to think that something your parents did messed you up instead of taking responsibility for yourself. Our society is based on blame to such a large degree. One of the goals of the therapy I'm in is to break this pattern of blame. I don't want to live life as a victim. Until you stop blaming other people, you can't move beyond the pain. There's an age of awareness now that's really refreshing. It seems very touchy-feely at first, but if you learn to use a few simple tools, you can help yourself get away from all that blame. Once I saw these tools work, I understood that they were really powerful. It's as simple as thinking back to the first time you were told you were worthless, revisiting that feeling as an adult, and giving yourself emotionally what you needed then.

It's also about empathy. Look at your mother, and put yourself in her shoes. Look at her life, where she's at, what she's given up, and be her. How does she feel? By doing that, you can forgive a person whom you felt really messed you up in the past. If you can come to the point where you can say, "I love you for all your fucked-up-ness because it's not your fault," it sets you free. When I did this with my parents, they completely changed in my eyes. Of course
Excerpted from Solo: Women Singers-Songwriters in Their Own Words
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-06-15:
The 19 musicians interviewed for this collection span a wide range of musical styles and socio-economic backgrounds, but there is a strong thread linking them, not only to each other but to anyone attempting to live a creative life. From Rosanne Cash, who has been performing for over two decades, to relative newcomers like Rosanne Raneri and Mary Lou Lord, these women have all thought long and hard about why they do what they do and how to remain true to themselves while navigating the world of popular music. Many of them have had doubts about their talents, fears of performing and problems with repression and addiction, yet at some point they decided to stake it all on their passion for music. For example, Cash and Sarah McLachlan describe the struggle to go beyond previous achievements and delve deeper into their own experiences for new material. Ani DiFranco and Cassandra Wilson talk about the strength required to break through sexual and racial stereotypes, while Jonatha Brooke and Lucinda Williams discuss their commitment to more literary lyrics, even when that has limited their commercial success. Other topics discussed include religion, society's expectations of women (obsessions with body weight and trying to be the good daughter come up frequently) and the need for solitude in order to write, even when that means feeling lonely and isolated. These women's candid views shed light on issues confronting artists of every sort and will encourage any one who has been discouraged along the way. 170 original b&w photos by Emma Dodge Hanson. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Solo is a collection of words and photographs that brings to the reader an intimate portrait of the world's biggest and best female singer-songwriters. The subjects include Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and many more.
Main Description
This first-of-its-kind collection vibrates with the high-voltage energy of today's most exciting female singer-songwriters as they speak out, look inside, and reveal their lives. Sarah McLachlan: "When I sang and played I'd get completely lost in what I was doing. During that time, I was no longer this stupid, useless little ten-year-old who didn't have any friends. I was someplace else, where none of that could touch me." Jewel: "Fame exists in other people's minds. I can't experience my own fame at all but I experience it in other people's eyes when I look at them and see that they're scared." Shawn Colvin: "Giving up addiction was the springboard into adult thinking. I realized that everything was a choice. The world was an open book. Nothing was the same after that." Sheryl Crow: "I always pictured myself as a loner off living like a Jack Kerouac character or, worse, someone out of a Charles Bukowski book, one of those down-and-outers who works at a gas station and has no one and no family." Lucinda Williams: "I don't want to offend anyone, but I like to push people's buttons. While I want to appeal to people in all walks of life, I also want to get a response, make them think."
Publisher Fact Sheet
In words & photographs this is the first & only collection of intimate portraits of the most important artists of the wildly popular women's music movement, including Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Joan Osborne, & many more.
Unpaid Annotation
A rare and riveting look into the lives of our most popular and important women musicians through the eyes of the artists themselves. "Solo" is an exciting collection of first-person accounts of life on the road, life at home and life on stage by Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachalan, Ani Defranco and many others, accompanied by exclusive and intimate black and white portraits.Popular music in the nineties belongs to women -- from the overnight sensation of Alanis Morisette to the long, steady-building success of Jewel. There are more solo women artists today writing their own songs and commanding their own respect than ever before. Indeed, the most successful summer festival was the Lilith Fair, selling out everywhere while old faithfuls like Lollapalooza failed to claim the audiences they once held. Here, for the first time, the women of our time in candid, first-person narratives, accompanied by stunning black and white portraits, talk about their lives and their music. Featuring pieces by: -- Jewel - Only 23 years old, Jewel is a true darling of the media (she has appeared on the covers of Time, Rolling Stone, Details and Interview). Her debut album, Pieces of You, has sold more than 5 million copies and has produced three top-ten singles.-- Sheryl Crow - Her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, featuring #1 hit All I Wanna Do, sold more than 7 million copies and her eponymous follow-up album has already sold more than 3 million copies.-- S
Table of Contents
Introduction
Sarah McLachlanp. 1
Shawn Colvinp. 21
Jonatha Brookep. 45
Cassandra Wilsonp. 69
Ani DiFrancop. 85
Mary Lou Lordp. 103
Mary Chapin Carpenterp. 125
Suzanne Vegap. 141
Holly Palmerp. 167
Joan Osbornep. 183
Lucy Kaplanskyp. 199
Jewelp. 217
Rosanne Cashp. 235
Dionne Farrisp. 255
Sheryl Crowp. 269
Lucinda Williamsp. 291
Catie Curtisp. 303
Kate Campbellp. 321
Rosanne Ranerip. 341
Acknowledgmentsp. 357
About the Authorsp. 359
Artist Biographiesp. 360
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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