Day 3 Writing Class Catch Up: 3 Songs

Assignment: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Are you crazy? There are so many important life changing songs in my almost 5 decades of living, there is no way I can reduce them to 3!!! I can’t possibly come up with this, so I am picking 3 artists that I love who are female, and I will try to pick them from different eras, different styles of music, at least different decades, and say why they have been important to me.

Also the rule I’ve made up, due to being sick of movies and pop culture so much femaleness associated with love stories, is that none of the songs can be love songs, or even songs inspired by love or romance or breakups, which rules out one of my favorites, “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.

First, Billy Holiday, whom I love. I can’t pick my favorite, “Gloomy Sunday”, as it is love related, so I will pick one of her most important songs, “Strange Fruit”, very intense and moving, about lynching. performed in 1939. Who wrote it is a complete surprise to me, a caucasian Jewish woman!:

““Strange Fruit” is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday, who first sang and recorded it in 1939. Written by a white, Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx and a member of the Communist Party, Abel Meeropol wrote it as a protest poem, exposing American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had occurred chiefly in the South but also in other regions of the United States. Meeropol set it to music and with his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, performed it as a protest song in New York venues, including at Madison Square Garden.” (source wikipedia). Link to Billy Holiday website:
http://www.billieholiday.com/portfolio/strange-fruit/

Here is a Youtube video of her singing it:

The lyrics:
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Next, moving from 1939 and the Blues, to 1970 and a great mix of blues, soul, gospel, country and rock is Janis Joplin, a big favorite of mine. I love Take a Piece of My Heart, but that doesn’t fit my criteria. If not political or civil rights related, there is always poverty vs. riches. Here is a good one: Mercedes Benz: (1970)

She starts with: “I’d like to do a song of great social and political import!”
link to live version on Youtube:

lyrics:
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?

Everybody!
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends,
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

That’s it!

I guess I could have picked Billy Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” about similar issues, but “Strange Fruit” is so important and great.

Moving from the time of Janis, third song, female performer, there are many to choose from. I’ve posted Katy Perry songs here before so I won’t pick her. There’s a lesser known singer/songwriter I love, and this is one of my favorite of her songs. This album has a lot of balads and songs about particular characters, so it’s easy to find songs with nothing to do with romance.

Heather Eatman’s album “Mascara Falls” has a lot of great songs on it. The year is 1995. Genre is considered Folk/Pop Rock:
This one’s called “Miss Liberty”. Imagine really talking to the Statue of Liberty, rescuing her in a boat, what would it be like? What an original greatly written song! The music is great too.:

I can’t find her lyrics for this song anywhere, so I will try to write it down as I listen. You can hear it on the youtube link above:

Miss Liberty
I got to the harbor on a dirty downtown train
Rode my tiny boat out to her giant feet of clay.
Man you don’t know me, but I’ve seen you on TV.
I’ve thought a lot about it, and I’d like to set you free.

Take your jewelry off.
Throw it in the sea.
It was just me and Miss Liberty.
It was just me and Miss Liberty.

“What’s your name?” she asked me as she stepped into my boat.
“Do you know where I might find a low priced overcoat?”
Of course I could see the names, words scratched in her skin-
Names of towns and cities that I knew she’d never been.
I gave her my coat,
told her it was free.

It was just me and Miss Liberty.
It was just me and Miss Liberty.
She… looked like someone’s mother as she stared back at the shore.
She said, “This iron lady just can help it anymore.
I’ve seen many drowning, and I have not left my post-
The gesture of their hands,
The expressions on their faces.

Take your jewelry off.
Throw it in the sea.
It was just me and Miss Liberty.
It was just me and Miss Liberty.

She seemed kind of flustered as she riffled threw her purse.
“I think I lost my glasses and my eyes are so much worse.
Tell me do i look as good as i did on TV?
Tell me when I’m melted down, will they remember me?

Take your jewelry off.
Throw it in the sea.
It was just me and Miss,
It was just me and Miss
It was just me and Miss
Liberty.

These songs all have the subject of “freedom” of some kind in them, different ideas about it, and, I realized, just now, that by picking “Miss Liberty”, I picked a very original song about the grand symbol of Liberty, the Statue of Liberty!

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