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Recent Integration Efforts from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Guess who’s among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s nominees this year? Joan Jett and Heart! It’s about time, too. Too few awesome female artists have been inducted.

The Hall is also drawing attention for its recently established “Women Who Rock” exhibit. While I do appreciate the Hall’s attempt to recognize artists that it previously ignored, I can’t help but feel the attempt is somewhat misguided. After all, the female artists it spotlights haven’t actually been inducted. When the exhibit ends in February 2012, the non-inducted artists (who compose the majority of the exhibit) will presumably vanish from the Hall once more. Forgetting pioneers like Sister Rosetta Tharpe again would be simply criminal. (Something that annoys me: how could they leave out Fanny?  They paved the way for most of the artists in that exhibit, but they didn’t even get mentioned on its website.)

Of course, the exhibit is not without its benefits. Carla DeSantis Black makes the point that, despite the exhibit’s problems, seeing successful female musicians can inspire girls to play music. Also, the usage of the term “Women Who Rock” annoys some feminists less than the label “Women In Rock.” The latter term grates on readers’ nerves due to its association with “Women In Rock” issues created by music magazines, especially Rolling Stone, that merely acknowledge the presence of women in music and then proceed to ignore their contributions in subsequent issues. Additionally, Gayle Wald argues that the “Women Who Rock” label is an improvement because “[it] envisions rock as a dynamic practice, not an ossified tradition…[and] represents women in terms of cultural agency, not their static presence—their doing, not their being”. However, both Carla DeSantis Black and I wonder why we still need a separate exhibit for female musicians. How come in the 21st century, we still can’t properly integrate excellent female artists with male ones? Why can’t the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame put female pioneers next to and among their male counterparts, so they look like they belong in the standard rock canon and not like their gender makes them less important?

The Hall has a chance to start fixing this if Joan Jett and Heart get inducted. You can (and should) vote for the nominees online; I voted for The Cure, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Heart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Guns ‘N Roses. So far, Heart and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are in the top five, with 8.96% and 8.03% of the votes respectively. Let’s cross our fingers, everybody. I’ll be really annoyed if two of my favorite artists are ignored again.

What do you think about these recent developments in the Hall? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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The Importance of Joan Jett

“That was the cliche, you know, like, “She’s pretty good for a chick.” But anyone who says that [about Joan Jett] is an idiot. Joan Jett just straight up rocks and always has.”

–Scott Ian of Anthrax in VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs

“I am the bitch with the hot guitar/I am the air, the sun and the stars”

–from “I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are”

Two summers ago, I was fortunate enough to see Joan Jett play live—for free, no less! She graced the stage with an air of confidence and good cheer, proceeding to rock our collective socks off. As I lost my footwear during her awesome performance, she gave me, and every other young person in the audience, a precious gift.

Teenagers constantly get messages, both from the media and from adults in our lives, about quality of life as we get older. “These are the best years of your life!” “You think life sucks now? Try having bills to pay, ungrateful kids like you to support, and a growing waistline!” “Ah, to be young again. These days I can’t jog without breaking a hip.” Joan Jett makes getting older not look so scary. If she can still look that good and rock that hard in her early fifties, aging can’t be too horrible, at least not for everybody. That realization was a wonderful thing for me to have.

Never mind that she’s an amazing musician, or that she fought hard in a sexist industry to be recognized and heard. Forget that she’s inspired bajillions of girls to pick up instruments. Dash the notion that she may be one of the most important figures in rock ‘n’ roll, and disregard the fact that many have called her the “Queen of Rock,” “Godmother of Punk,” and the “Original Riot Grrl”. Joan Jett showed me that it gets better, and I’m grateful for that. The other stuff is just icing on the cake.

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Quotes of the Month: Musicians

Here are August’s quotes of the month from musicians:

“When I first started playing, I felt like all the boys I knew were in on a world of top-secret information. I felt like I didn’t have permission to enter that world. I didn’t know if I would ever catch up or not feel a little lost. I loved music so much, all I wanted was to be part of it, I wanted to be making it, I was totally consumed by it. Over time, I realized that my love for music was all I really needed. That was my permission slip. I was already in the gang.”
–Jessica Hopper, bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, and writer, in The Girl’s Guide to Rocking

“One of the goals of the Runaways was to make it normal for a girl or woman to write and play rock ‘n’ roll and sweat onstage, and we seem to be getting closer to that.”
–Joan Jett

“[In Throwing Muses], Kristin [Hersh] and I were always confident in the music, in what we had to say. We weren’t always so sure about our actual playing abilities. My advice [to young girls playing guitar] would be first that you actually can play guitar as well as anyone else.”
–Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses, the Breeders, and Belly

“If guitar playing is what you’re passionate about, do what I did–get a job at the local guitar shop! Learn how to tell what year that Les Paul Standard is, or how to change strings on a banjo, how to tell if a pre-amp tube is going bad. And when there are no customers? You get to practice “Iron Man” on your favorite guitar in the store. It’s a pretty sweet deal.”
–Anita Robinson of Viva Voce in an interview posted on ultimate-guitar.com

What did you think of these quotes? Does anything particularly inspire you? Tell us in the comments section!