Explain what you hate about Ani DiFranco.

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Think of this as the anti-defend-the-indefensible. Tell me everything you can about why and how much you hate this woman and her music...and her legacy too, if you so choose.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Sunday, 9 November 2003 21:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Tear it up.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Sunday, 9 November 2003 21:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

can't really say because I havent heard the material. stand by as I raise enough money to purchase all 943857948 of her albums.

bill stevens (bscrubbins), Sunday, 9 November 2003 21:21 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I can live with the fact that she's butt-ugly and insufferably pretentious as the day is long, but what I really can't stand about her is her signature vocal cadence. Something about it bugs the bejesus outta me.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:37 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she doesn't bug me as much as Good Charlotte, Fifty-Cent or Scott Stapp

Eisbär (llamasfur), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:38 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I can live with the fact that she's butt-ugly and insufferably pretentious as the day is long

I feel the need to explain myself here. I too am butt-ugly and insufferably pretentious as the day as long, I'll admit it, but at least I don't enunciate in a needlessly eccentric manner while singing about how I'm more thant thirty-one flavours and then some.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:41 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

She typifies the problem with self-publishing: she has no editor, no one to stop her from releasing an album every time she blows her nose. Which is a shame, because her last five albums have one great album's worth of material on it.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:46 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I have no problem with her. But I also only like one song, that Untouchable Face song.

Carey (Carey), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:48 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she came into my store and i helped her for quite a while and i can tell you she is not pretentious. shes very humbleand sweet. her stupid lyrics arnt so much pretentious as they as juvenile.

Pablo Cruise (chaki), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:48 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she makes an acoustic guitar sound very funky.

Pablo Cruise (chaki), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i admire her for everything except her music, which i find to be horrid folky drivel when it isn't being horrid lite-jazzy drivel

the surface noise (electricsound), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

LOVE the lite-jazzy drivel.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:50 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I got no problem with her

cinniblount (James Blount), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:50 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'll say this --- there are plenty worse than her.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:55 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she came into my store and i helped her for quite a while and i can tell you she is not pretentious. shes very humbleand sweet.

Well, between songs she's humble and sweet, and then she starts singing and it's like, Hey! Check out this enormous chip on my shoulder! Isn't it neat?

Not that that's a problem in and of itself. Sometimes it is neat.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Sunday, 9 November 2003 22:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"She typifies the problem with self-publishing: she has no editor, no one to stop her from releasing an album every time she blows her nose. "

Right on, Kenan... and then yes, there's her HORRIBLE VOCAL STYLE thank you ALex in NYC that "ooh, I'm just falling off a cliff thinking up this wonderful stuff off the top of my head so darn fast" tumbling rhythm just makes me want to crush her skull. I got that Adbusters with the DJ spooky-mixed CD in it and I loved all the shit on it except the Adbusters folks' stuff (and whadya know, magazine people arent' musicians) and her track -- I just went WHO IS THIS GODAWFUL VOICE FROM HELL... oh yes, it's that self-pub princess. Ugh the self-righteous babeness of DIY at its hellish pit-awful worst...

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I want to hate her as much as some of you do, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I've never heard her but now I have to.

Sean (Sean), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I don't really despise her per se, but she grates on me something awful. I've probably been able to sit thru a couple of her songs but by and large she annoys the heck out of me. I don't like her sociopolitical slam-poetry style lyrics (and I'm as bleeding-heart liberal as the day is long, mind you)... I don't like music that tries to be "funky" or whatever it is she does. I don't really know. I just dont' like it. And the fact that I've met so many people who are batshit nuts about her just makes my contrariness shine through. I'm sure she's a nice person and so forth. Haha.

I can't listen to preachy lyrics anymore, and most that are prosaic and without a possible second layer of interpretation tend to bore/annoy me. It's just my personal taste. I mean I thought Le Tigre and Kathleen Hanna and all that was cool when I was 19, I'm over it now. For whatever reason.

I think it's the slam-poetriness of it all, mainly. I don't think that stuff is cool anymore. It embarrasses me to listen to that stuff.

Also, plz introduce me to a lesbian who isn't a huge ani fan... I will kiss them right away. I do know a couple of them, though. I know, generalizing, but I'm gay myself, and I have met LOTS of gay (and non-gay) ani fans in my circle of acquaintances, so I'm not just being cruel. It gets tiresome. I'm actually afraid to dis certain musicians around some of my friends because I don't know if someone will blow up and get all offended about it. (I mean, I'll get pseudo-offended for a laugh, but it's just music, I can't take it personally.)

Blood and sparkles (bloodandsparkles), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:27 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she invites a 'special case' fandom where ppl can be waaay into her and not really into much else. nothing evil about that but it's not the kind of pop experience i'm looking for.

i guess i don't hate her, it's been years since i've even heard anything by her. who knows how bad i'd cringe, if at all.

typo acapulco (gcannon), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:50 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she invites a 'special case' fandom where ppl can be waaay into her and not really into much else

taking sides: ani difranco vs belle and sebastian

the surface noise (electricsound), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:52 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

The most recent reason to hate her is her vocal support of Kucinich.

Colin Beckett (Colin Beckett), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:53 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Her audience applauds at the slightest reference to having sex with a woman, which is somehow more enlightened than when Kiss's audience does it. It's not her fault they do that, but she sure likes to exploit it. Or at least she did before she married Goatcheese or whatever his name is.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Sunday, 9 November 2003 23:54 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Her singing -- I've been able to stand much worse lyrics when sung by setter singers.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Monday, 10 November 2003 00:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

http://petplace.netscape.com/articles/images/209056833.jpg

Kenan Hebert (kenan), Monday, 10 November 2003 00:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

but everyone here loves kucinich.

keith (keithmcl), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:03 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

ha!

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:51 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

her music is just kind of dull, though there was a remix of one of her songs on The Jackal soundtrack which wasn't much of a remix - still upright bass, acoustic guitar and drums, maybe a keyboard wash lurking in the background - that i quite liked. her fans, on the other hand...

if you're a teenager and have nobody who understands how you feel (about any particular topic, not just coming out), it's understandable that you'd latch really tightly onto a figure like Ani DiFranco. depressed white boys like me frequently do the same with Nirvana, but hey different strokes etc. when you're a bit more grown up and ought to have developed a bit of maturity, it's k-pathetic to fly off the handle because somebody had the nerve to dis your personal saviour. just because 'ani difranco saved my life' doesn't make her music sound any better to the average person talking smack about boring music in a record store, and if you can't handle it then you need to get some therapy. urrrrrgh.

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she had a song on the Jackal soundtrack? Jesus, I bet she was embarassed when she finally saw the movie.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

the winner of the Grammy for "Worst Exploitative Electronica Soundtrack" competition of 1997

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:29 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I think she's intermittently brilliant, and I'm not sure why people describe her lyrics as juvenile. She's probably *the master* of the extended metaphor.

The argument that "she needs a good editor" seems to be used only because she releases so much. Her double album from 2 years ago is almost flawless as far as I'm concerned and I can listen to both discs in a row very easily; by comparison her single-disc release this year seemed very flat, and was a real stretch to listen to all the way through. Which makes me think that she doesn't need an editor so much as an advisor, to tell her which deliberate decisions she makes (in terms of lyrical content, stylistic twists, etc. etc.) are good and which are bad.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

did she need an editor when she released 7 good-to-great albums in a row? the problem with everything since Little Plastic Castle (or maybe Up x 6) seems to be one of (admitted) lack of inspiration. and she's a fierce guitar player.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:37 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I think that these days she's best when she's singing about love; the problem with her recent political stuff is that she sounds like she's *forcing* herself to care about the macro-issues - like she feels some duty to be popular music's Michael Moore. For her first run of albums there was no division between the personal and the political, but lately you can feel her trudging wearily back and forth over the border on an enforced border patrol that she doesn't particularly enjoy.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 10 November 2003 05:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

OTM TF about lyrics. She gets called trite so often. It can be true, but I think what she does best is dissect cliches and turn them into something new. That shit is masterful.

The album that's coming out in January is astounding. With anything after Not a Pretty Girl, I've sort of forced myself to listen to it, to wade through the over-instrumentation and softening to find great songs within the mush. I didn't have to put any work into Educated Guess. Over the years, she's achieved focus with her lyrics, while becoming more vague -- her songs used to be all over the place in terms of content, though incredibly specific, and now they're just sort of about one thing and vague in themselves. Because the entire album, save two political tracks, is about her divorce, she's shading and making this multi-faceted take on the whole ordeal. Plus, she recorded it all herself, so while she's not entirely back to slashing and burning with her guitar, it definitely feels old school and lean and like a complete return to form.

And, she often sounds like Prince.

I think it took her eight years to make a great album again. I'm just happy that she still has it in her.

Rich, Monday, 10 November 2003 16:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

TS (the case against self-publishing): Ani vs. Prince

I personally really love like almost everything she's ever done, but I think my favorite of her material always seems to be the broken-hearted stuff.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Monday, 10 November 2003 16:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

she's a fierce guitar player

Nobody ever talks about this. They talk about her politics, her sexual preferences, her lyrics, her songwriting, her label, etc. Ani's a good guitar player.

I guess there's a lot of hate fodder, but I interviewed her once for a TV show and she was sweet, accomodating, forthcoming.

scott m (mcd), Monday, 10 November 2003 17:06 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I get annoyed by her affected vocal delivery .. But she's alright I guess.

And she scores extra points for publishing Hamell on Trial.

dave225 (Dave225), Monday, 10 November 2003 17:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

yeah the vocal affect gets to me/stands in the way of my hearing more. Her guitar technique is to die for, though.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Monday, 10 November 2003 17:39 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

You can tell she's inspired by the great West Africans - Ali Farka Toure, Baba Maal, Monseur Seck.

scott m (mcd), Monday, 10 November 2003 17:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

(I sure butchered those names; that's Baaba Maal and Mansour Seck.)

scott m (mcd), Monday, 10 November 2003 18:02 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I wish I could get enough past her annoying singing to have ever noticed her guitar playing. I admit I know nuhhhsink.

Blood and sparkles (bloodandsparkles), Monday, 10 November 2003 18:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Carey OTM about "Untouchable Face." That is a fantastic song. I think she's pretty badass, personally, running that label and putting out records by Drums and Tuba and stuff. I refuse to enter the Hatrix on this one.

Ben Boyer (Ben Boyer), Monday, 10 November 2003 19:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I think she's f-in awesome. The girl's got a heart and she's pretty much fearless when it comes to confronting herself. Some of those songs are so absolutely perfect, it's scary. "Anyday" is probably my favorite. And FWIW, she's fucking hot, too.

Jeanne Fury (Jeanne Fury), Monday, 10 November 2003 19:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

FOR REAL THOUGH! Even back in the baldilocks days. She's totally gorgeous.

One of the things that originally turned me on to her was her distinct vocal cadence & idiosyncratic style, honestly. I think the thing I most love about it is that she feels actually affected by what she's singing, she doesn't feel detached from her own voice like many other singers.

Right now I think "Dilate" is maybe my favorite, she sounds like she's breaking down midway through it, but then when the lyricless singing parts come through it's so friggin' triumphant.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Monday, 10 November 2003 20:06 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Well, yes, she's hot... and unbearable hot singers are, for some mysterious reason, WAAAAAY more annoying than unbearable ugly ones. It's the old fuck?/kick down stairs? dilemma.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 10 November 2003 20:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Doesn't she use Matt Chamberlain for occasional hot beats? Or was that Fiona Apple? I can never remember.

I've mostly avoided her after knowing too many of the aforementioned tunnel-vision fans.

Jordan (Jordan), Monday, 10 November 2003 20:53 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"I think she's f-in awesome. The girl's got a heart and she's pretty much fearless when it comes to confronting herself. Some of those songs are so absolutely perfect, it's scary. "Anyday" is probably my favorite. And FWIW, she's fucking hot, too."
throw in the stuff about loving the fuck about her guitar playing and that's my view on the subject.
what i really love most about her is how confrontational she is. when i listen to her music (granted, not all of her songs do this, but she's got quite a few), it often feels like she's the angry girlfriend pointing out the huge flaws in my personality that ive pretended arent there. she actually makes me take a good long look at myself and try to fix the things that are horribly wrong. i cant think of any other artists that actually make me try to be a better person.

Felcher (Felcher), Monday, 10 November 2003 21:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I like Living In Clip a lot despite the wretched banter. It's the late-period jam band fake the funk stuff that grates. Also dreadlocks.

http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/movies/other/img/battlefield.jp

adam (adam), Monday, 10 November 2003 22:12 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Rats.

http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/movies/ other/img/battlefield.jpg

adam (adam), Monday, 10 November 2003 22:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Pretend that's a really good picture of John Travolta from Battlefield Earth.

adam (adam), Monday, 10 November 2003 22:13 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

No, and no... I have Up Up Up Up Up Up and have heard but do not possess Little Plastic Castle... what I've heard has made me interested enough to keep up with what she's doing, but not to delve too deeply into the most massive back catalogue ever (esp. as Ani albums seem to be mega-expensive in the UK). Great stuff on Revelling/Reckoning - the reason why I'm still giving the last two Ani albums a chance is because R/R took so long to grow on me; as you said, "Okay, so if you're gonna spend a week listening to just me, I better give you a week's worth of music to listen to." It actually seems like she put a lot of work into all the hooks and textures of R/R, whereas at other times it can sound like she wandered into the studio, ad-libbed tunelessly and aimlessly for seven minutes, then wandered off again.

"So What" might be one of my favourite Ani songs... lyrically amazing, and I love the distant jazz clarinet circling her.

The Lex (The Lex), Friday, 14 May 2004 10:45 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Please Alex switch your preferences! Buy the two albums I mentioned (and Little Plastic Castles actually - but particularly Not A Pretty Girl) but don't buy more recent stuff! R/R took a while to grow on me too but the other recent albums reach a certain threshold and then hang there lifelessly.

"So What" *is* great - the 3 drinks/2 drinks bit in the chorus, or "but nothing comes at first/and little comes at all/and when inspiration finally hits you/it barely even breaks your fall". Likewise I love the line in "Rock Paper Scissors": "Desire drags me right out of myself/like a gas-soaked rope tied to a piece of coal/i'm getting pretty good at looking on the bright side/while the flames rip along the sand and swallow me whole." Or the extended riff in "Marrow" on "a taste of your own medicine". Great stuff! Some of my favourite lyrics ever.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Saturday, 15 May 2004 12:37 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I thought R/R was pretty terrible (a nice song or two that wear off), and am not much interested to check out what she's doing today, but everything from Little Plastic Castle on back is worth your time. Living in Clip might be the best first purchase and might be all you need.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Saturday, 15 May 2004 13:55 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

My preferences are definitely not towards the later stuff - just that it's easier to check out (promo copies etc) than the back catalogue. I actually dug Educated Guess out yesterday and it's very dull indeed - I don't believe there's a single decent hook on it. I'll look out for the albums you mentioned though.

The 3 beers/2 beers line - yes! Also, the munificence of metaphors on "School Night", and the "you were the make-me-mad guy... now I am the bad guy" couplet on "Sick Of Me". R/R is a perfect summer album, actually - the ballads are all languid and warm, and the more upbeat ones are totally sun-kissed. "OK" in particular needs some love!

The Lex (The Lex), Saturday, 15 May 2004 14:58 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

for me it's the vocal affectations, with the timbre of her guitar a close second.

now i have to find out what alex in nyc looks like.

mike bott, Saturday, 15 May 2004 15:14 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

She's probably *the master* of the extended metaphor.

*cough*FranklinBruno*cough*.

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 15 May 2004 15:45 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

now i have to find out what alex in nyc looks like.

Disapointment awaits ye

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 15 May 2004 17:25 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The 3 beers/2 beers line - yes! Also, the munificence of metaphors on "School Night", and the "you were the make-me-mad guy... now I am the bad guy" couplet on "Sick Of Me". R/R is a perfect summer album, actually - the ballads are all languid and warm, and the more upbeat ones are totally sun-kissed. "OK" in particular needs some love! "

Yeah the whole house burning down metaphor thing in "School Night" is amazing. It's almost as if she realised at some point that formulating extended metaphors was her special skill like a strong backhand or something and just spent months and months stretching it and stretching it. Love "OK" too!

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Sunday, 16 May 2004 04:16 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

SHE SUX FAT COX

24 hours with the King of Snake. (SNAKE!) (ex machina), Sunday, 16 May 2004 04:27 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

this is not explaining why you hate ani difranco!

christhamrin (christhamrin), Sunday, 16 May 2004 04:27 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

well ok that last bit sort of was. i do find her attractive somehow though. because i am a perv.

christhamrin (christhamrin), Sunday, 16 May 2004 04:28 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I'D HIT IT

24 hours with the King of Snake. (SNAKE!) (ex machina), Sunday, 16 May 2004 04:31 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

while i was baning her I'd be telling her to do the dishes and shit.

christhamrin (christhamrin), Sunday, 16 May 2004 04:35 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

gabbneb OTM.

Ani is attractive.

don carville weiner, Sunday, 16 May 2004 10:22 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah the whole house burning down metaphor thing in "School Night" is amazing. It's almost as if she realised at some point that formulating extended metaphors was her special skill like a strong backhand or something and just spent months and months stretching it and stretching it. Love "OK" too!

The extended metaphor thing also works really well on the more political songs on R/R too - Ani's so much better when she makes her point by twisting and bending language rather than sloganeering. It comes across in the performance too - the way she rhymes on "Tamburitza Lingua" is so offhand and natural, in stark contrast to something like "Serpentine" which is very forced.

The Lex (The Lex), Sunday, 16 May 2004 21:57 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah I really dislike "Serpentine" - it's the sort of thing I imagine people who dislike the idea of Ani but haven't heard her imagine she sounds like.

I suspect the reason why the political songs on R/R work is that she sounds so tired of didacticism. In a funny way I suspect that September 11 "rejuvenated" a lot of occasionally political musicians like Ani in a manner that was ultimately negative - the perceived urgency of saying something once again took priority over the other two crucial issues: whether something can be said, and, if the answer to that is yes, how it should be said.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 17 May 2004 01:11 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, that's definitely true for the vast majority of Sept 11-'inspired' songs I've heard - almost like all these singer-songwriters watched it then though "aha! it is my JOB to provide WORTHY SOCIAL COMMENT on this event!" even if the trend in their previous work was away from political ranting (or even if their forte had never been politics in the first place, like Tori Amos). On R/R Ani really succeeds in interweaving the political and the personal, too, usually in the same song and sometimes in the same line.

The Lex (The Lex), Monday, 17 May 2004 11:15 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah which is why feminism/sexuality stuff was always a stronger suit for her 'cuz of all the "personal is political" groundwork that had already been laid. See "Blood in the Boardroom" for example.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 00:25 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I've never heard "Blood In The Boardroom" but I looked the lyrics up - they're brilliant! Because they're funny as well as (because they're) icky. Ani's political stuff is best when she gets the right balance between the bird's-eye narrator describing a situation from outside it, but simultaneously being located in it - "Tis Of Thee" and "Trickle Down" do this well on Up Up Up Up Up Up.

The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 08:49 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
I've been having a bit of Ani-flavoured couple of days, mainly her earlier stuff - Imperfectly, Puddle Dive, Out of Range. As usual I'm struck by the fact that with Ani what's actually interesting lyrically is not what she's singing about, but the clarity of her imagery. I love the lyrics from "Overlap":

"i search your profile for a translation
i study the conversation like a map
'cause i know there is strength
in the differences between us
and i know there is comfort
where we overlap

come here
stand in front of the light
stand still
so i can see your silhouette
i hope
that you have got all night
cause i'm not done looking yet

each one of us
wants a piece of the action
you can hear it in what we say
you can see it in what we do
we negotiate with chaos
for some sense of satisfaction
if you won't give it to me
at least give me a better view

come here
stand in front of the light
stand still
so i can see your silhouette
i hope
that you have got all night
cause i'm not done looking yet

i build each one of my songs out of glass
so you could see me inside them i suppose
or you could just leave the image of me
in the background i guess
and watch your own reflection superimposed

i build each one of my days out of hope
and i give that hope your name
and i don't know you that well
but it don't take much to tell
either you don't have the balls
or you don't feel the same

come here
stand in front of the light
stand still
so i can see your silhouette
i hope
that you have got all night
cause i'm not done looking yet"

I love how each verse introduces a slightly stronger note of doubt and bitterness into what is, musically and in its chorus, a very sweet love song. And again the the use of extended metaphors: the notion of glass houses used to imply both transparency and reflectivness.

It all probably comes across as deeply unimpressive to the non-fan...

Similarly I love the first stanza of "This Bouquet":

"Got a garden of song where I grow all my thoughts
Wish I could harvest one or two for some small talk
Seems like I'm starving for words whenever you're around
Nothing on my tongue, so much in the ground..."

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Sunday, 26 February 2006 14:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Overlap may well be her best. If you haven't yet, you should hear the version on Living in Clip.

gabbneb (gabbneb), Sunday, 26 February 2006 15:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Yeah a bit foolishly I never bought Living In Clip!

Part of what I've been thinking about was inspired by listening to Imperfectly, which is probably her most didactic album in terms of so many of the songs being almost straightforward statements of her politics etc. (see "In or Out", "Make Them Apologize", "The Waiting Song" etc.) and thinking "okay, so these lyrics are pretty didactic, but I still love them. What's wrong with didactic ultimately?

Like most things when talking about music you can dig deeper here, and say, "okay, so it's not a question of whether something is didactic or not, but whether it gets away with being so." And then you have to work out the ways in which the music is persuasive in making you either accept or look past or even enjoy the didacticism.

I think with Ani, or at least with her early stuff, it's precisely because you can tell that she's drawing no distinction between her personal songs and her political songs (I think I made this point upthread) that the rants lose their lecturing, hectoring quality - she's too personally caught up in what she's singing abou. So when she sings "cos the music business is still run by men/like every business of everything/but I can sing/like a son of a bitch/make 'em twitch around their eyes/make them apologize" it doesn't actually feel that different to elsewhere on the album where she sings, "oh it's good/good to see you again/good to meet your girlfriend/I'll try not to wonder where you are/when you go outside to kiss her/in the front seat of your car."

This becomes less true later on, perhaps "Fuel" was the first political song she did that felt more like propaganda than confession, even though I liked it a lot at the time. Now it reminds me a bit of Michael Franti's "Rock The Nation" or something.

I don't think that this early entanglement of personal and political goes all the way in explaining why Ani's lyrics work for me, but it's a big part of it. Another part of it that, because so much of the politics is expressed through stories or vignettes or very carefully constructed metaphors, you get these very specific and at times quite layered "political" statements - like, the fact that people call "In Or Out" her "lesbian" song seems so off the mark to me, and perhaps even ironic, when it is in fact skewering the possessive chauvinism that straight men and lesbian women feel towards her.

More generally though, I guess a lot of my liking this stuff comes down to getting into Ani when I was 14 and thus almost having a contractual agreement with her music that I'll at least give it a chance to win me over.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Sunday, 26 February 2006 22:42 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Listening to her later albums: To The Teeth is much much better than I remember it being, Little Plastic Castles a little bit worse, and Up Up Up Up Up Up quite a bit worse. But yeah, I really underrated To The Teeth massively.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 27 February 2006 09:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"yeah the vocal affect gets to me/stands in the way of my hearing more.
-- J0hn Darn1elle (edito...), November 10th, 2003."

is this a joke?
No disrespect intended, it's just a funny agreement from someone whose vocal affect could also be deemed unique in this way.

Her vocals never really bothered me. I think what drew me to her work was a combo of the prose and instrumental precision. Excellent on the acoustic.
And, I really do think she has some great lines, but those, also, can at times be hit or miss. There are certain vulgarities she fits into her verses that make me wonder, why. Just. Why? ("but you can't will yourself happy/you can't will your cunt wet." Really, did she HAVE to? The tune is grating along just fine and then I realize, ehh, I just can't belt along any more.)

"More generally though, I guess a lot of my liking this stuff comes down to getting into Ani when I was 14 and thus almost having a contractual agreement with her music that I'll at least give it a chance to win me over."

I might say this is part of the reason that I genuinely do still enjoy her music. I've been an Ani fan ever since I heard the live track "Gravel," and only an amateur on the guitar, I could not for the life of me figure out how she was playing like that. Maybe it's the curiosity as to if she can continue to impress on that level.

mox twelve (Mox twleve), Monday, 27 February 2006 16:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

As far as I'm concerned, she is responsible for two Unforgivable™ offenses:

1. Her hair
2. The mispronunciation of her own first name. There are few things more obnoxious than having an Ani fan lecture you about how it's pronounced "Aah-nee", and not Annie.

Okeigh, Monday, 27 February 2006 17:04 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I'm neither fan nor hater, but I feel compelled to weigh in since my wife was obsessed with Ani from '94 to '99 (which means I underwent a prolonged + forced exposure to her music).

Most of the negatives about Ani have been cited here; annoying vocal stylings, a lyrical persona bordering on the narcissistic, jam band/world music/fake funk moves, slam-poetry-style wordsmithing, heavy-handed political posturing. What redeems her is strong songwriting and a body of work that's nothing to sneeze at; her first 6-7 albums are pretty consistent. As a non-fan, I think her best is '94's Out of Range, though Living in Clip is the perfect primer/crash course/compilation for that period.

Those who hate her voice should check out the self-titled first album. Stripped-down production, her vocals are straightforward - this was before her goofy melisma went into overdrive. And it's arguable that she never wrote anything as good as the first track, "Both Hands," a perfect little jewel of a song (avoid the pretentiously overblown version on Living In Clip - a portentous sign of the beginning of the end).

The earlier material derived a lot of its crackle from the tension between Ani and her drummer, Andy Stochansky. Clearly it's always been The Ani DiFranco Show, but when Andy left in '98 things declined in intensity. I saw them (w/ Sara Lee on bass) do a version of "Shy" in '97 in Nashville that was so urgently desperate it was frightening. There's always been something a little punky about Ani that separated her (at least in my mind) from Dave Matthews and others of his ilk.

And yeah, she's got a way with words. Here are a few of hers that stuck with me:

In each other's shadows
we grew less and less tall
and eventually our theories
couldn't explain it all
I'm recording our history
now on the bedroom wall
and eventually
the landlord will come
and paint over it all
-Both Hands

I was 11 years old
he was as old as my dad
and he took something from me
I didn't even know that I had
- Letter To A John

One thing I find interesting about Ani DiFranco's career is how it demonstrates the speciousness of the "selling out" concept. Musicians don't sell out as much as they burn out, as inspiration provides diminishing returns over the course of a career. This naturally-occurring process is usually mirrored by an increase in popularity and an affiliation with larger labels that is mistaken for a cause-and-effect relationship. Ani's independence did little to prevent an eventual aesthetic decline. Even my wife, the self-described "Ani nut," finds the post-Little Plastic Castle material slow-going.

Edward III (edward iii), Monday, 27 February 2006 19:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

her dreads.
her acoustic guitar.
her voice.
her presentation.
her subject matter.
her persona.
her fans.

Cameron Octigan (Cameron Octigan), Monday, 27 February 2006 20:01 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"her dreads.
her acoustic guitar.
her voice.
her presentation.
her subject matter.
her persona.
her fans.
-- Cameron Octigan (jcoctiga...), February 27th, 2006"

this is the pinnacle of eloquence and you hit every annoying notion that represents "Ani-dom" to me!!!
WELL DONE!!!!
and let's face it, it's ALL about the fans near fanatical defense of everything she's ever done that put most people off...as is the case w/ most band, innit?

eedd, Monday, 27 February 2006 20:28 (eleven years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
her fans worship her in a way that's worse than pretty much any other well-known artist i can think of. i can understand the appeal - she's the most outspoken lesbian feminist musician i can think of, and she ain't even a lesbian. but your typical feminist, lefty gal, gay or straight, can empathize with her lyrical content in a huge way, that is undoubtedly extremely validating on both a personal and political level. which is not a bad thing - they just take it to the point where ani's word is god(dess).

and hey, i'd know - my ani obsessive phase began my freshman year of high school and ended my freshman year of college, when i replaced her with sleater-kinney and le tigre and the slits and bratmobile for my feminist girlpunk jollies.

but her good stuff (imperfectly, out of range, dilate, to the teeth, parts of little plastic castle) is some of the best, most tough and smart and sensitive songwriting i've ever heard. i've finally come round to liking her again, and i must say, dilate still remains one of the most heartbreaking relationship albums, right up there with "blood on the tracks" and "the meadowlands". i really don't like her warbly ness and weird vocal tics, but when she's just singing - angry or sad - it's very powerful stuff.

and she is an absolutely brilliant guitar player. her fingers must be made of some space age material that never scuffs or anything. seriously.

like someone said in a previous post - she just needs an editor, or at least shouldn't record and release what seems like every single song she ever writes. her last few albums have been depressingly mediocre.

Emily B (Emily B), Thursday, 1 June 2006 00:50 (eleven years ago) Permalink

her fingers must be made of some space age material that never scuffs or anything.

She uses some kind of false press-on fingernails (reinforced w/ glue and/or tape) for picking IIRC.

Marmotdeth (marmotwolof), Thursday, 1 June 2006 01:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Sure, she's always gotten on my nerves, but I've always assumed it was like Chris Rock's response when he hears old white guys say, *I don't like this rap music*. IT'S NOT FOR YOU MAN. You're not suppose to like it.

ended my freshman year of college, when i replaced her with sleater-kinney and le tigre and the slits and bratmobile for my feminist girlpunk jollies.

Also, she seems to be a gateway artist: a bit eccentric while still accessible, but mostly a bag of stems and seeds, hooking nascent music nerds and guiding them towards the uncut stuff. Like Jane's Addiction. Is there a thread on bands like that?

bendy (bendy), Thursday, 1 June 2006 10:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Her singing. That's really it. She seems like an amazing person, but goddamn, take a breath.

Dan Heilman (The Deacon), Thursday, 1 June 2006 13:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i always admired her politics, but her music always made me cringe. very slick and lifeless. if rush was a female vocalist who played acoustic guitar, they'd be ani difranco.

i used to admire the way she approached her career (diy, yadda yadda yadda) until i found out that her parents hired a harvard mba (at a cost of $30k/year) to manage her career when she was starting out.

Lawrence the Looter (Lawrence the Looter), Thursday, 1 June 2006 13:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I didn't know that but if true it actually makes me more interested in the whole diy story rather than less (it's generally been the least interesting side of her persona for me). What a clever thing to do! Although I wonder exactly what commercial secrets a harvard mba could provide to ensure that touring and selling tapes from a carboot would be extra-specially lucrative...

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Thursday, 1 June 2006 13:29 (eleven years ago) Permalink

her fingers must be made of some space age material that never scuffs or anything.

Not as indestructible as you might think - she had to cancel a tour recently to recover from some nerve damage issues with her hands. One of those "take a break or you'll never play again" things...

Edward III (edward iii), Thursday, 1 June 2006 14:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I love that her space in Buffalo (a big-ass church she rebuilt) rents out space to Hallwalls, who constantly bring in all kinds of incredible improv and free jazz guys who don't even make it to Toronto. They put on some good art too.

I've barely heard her music, aside from like one or two songs someone brought into an undergrad Music & Gender course I took. If it garners comparisons to Rush and Ali Farka Toure it's probably worth hearing though.

Sundar (sundar), Thursday, 1 June 2006 16:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

very slick and lifeless. if rush was a female vocalist who played acoustic guitar, they'd be ani difranco.

i used to admire the way she approached her career (diy, yadda yadda yadda) until i found out that her parents hired a harvard mba (at a cost of $30k/year) to manage her career when she was starting out.

a) Rush is not lifeless. at all.
b) Difranco's pre-fame records, of which there are many, are basically home recordings -- vocals and guitar -- and are the polar opposite of "slick"
c) the harvard mba thing sounds spurious, at best


erklie (erklie), Thursday, 1 June 2006 17:29 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I have nothing whatsoever against Ani or her music. I own Up Up Up Up Up Up, and I think "Angry Anymore" and "Everest" are two of the best examples of storytelling lyrics I can name.

What irks me is the seemingly endless parade of Ani wannabes, and lest you think I'm dealing in strawmen here, I sat through more than my fair share of them during my open mic-attending college days. All of the fire, twice the passion, but not a single coherent statement, engaging lyric, or memorable melody in the bunch.

I also have a funny story involving her ex-drummer, but that's another rant for another time.

Tantrum The Cat (Tantrum The Cat), Thursday, 1 June 2006 18:51 (eleven years ago) Permalink

a) Rush is not lifeless. at all.

This is the red light.

Nathalie (stevie nixed), Thursday, 1 June 2006 19:00 (eleven years ago) Permalink

When I was in high school, I had a huge crush on a girl with a shaved head and we listened to Ani DiFranco bootlegs from the Living in Clip tour behind a schoolbus, each of us with one headphone.
But as I got older, I found more stuff that I liked more and Ani got blander... and I hate that fake jazz bullshit. Now my mom listens to her all the time, and I roll my eyes.

And while it's unfair to blame a musician for their imitators, gawd she has the worst.

js (honestengine), Thursday, 1 June 2006 19:04 (eleven years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

I haven't listened to ani in literally years but for some reason I've had a couple of her songs running through my head the last couple days. I spent a while being really into the stuff she realeased in the late 90s and as annoying as I eventually grew to find her whole shtick, she's a talented woman. Also, seeing her play this in NM in 1998 was one of the two times I've cried at concerts. It was incredible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwEI6UNMkag&feature=related

\(^o\) (/o^)/ (ENBB), Friday, 29 April 2011 22:51 (six years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

so cleaning out my section of the office I found an unopened promo copy of Evolve beneath a pile of folders.

Tim says it's bleh. Should I try it?

first I think it's time I kick a little verse! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 29 July 2013 13:36 (four years ago) Permalink

Ask John maybe, I got rid of that one years ago.

Knuckle Down from a few years afterwards was great though.

Tim F, Monday, 29 July 2013 16:07 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

boy Jon Hassell sounds great on "Pulse."

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 26 March 2015 23:59 (two years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

It seems like she was popular because she presented a confident image and said what a lot of young women needed/wanted to hear. As a songwriter and performer I find her abysmal -- obvious, didactic lyrics with awkward phrasing, worst guitar tone I can imagine, not catchy

IF (Terrorist) Yes, Explain (man alive), Tuesday, 10 October 2017 18:44 (two months ago) Permalink

good to know dude

brimstead, Tuesday, 10 October 2017 19:00 (two months ago) Permalink

Casual fan here, albeit one who hasn't heard anything she's put out since around the turn of the millennium, but there there is a certain type of gay guy who is obsessed with her that was a bit annoyingly overrepresented in my social circle for a while.

iCloudius (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 10 October 2017 19:36 (two months ago) Permalink

Ani's in that select group of people I hate but have no desire to slag in public

rip van wanko, Tuesday, 10 October 2017 19:38 (two months ago) Permalink

(i do not consider hurting's post a slag btw)

rip van wanko, Tuesday, 10 October 2017 19:40 (two months ago) Permalink


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