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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Lilith Unfair

Submitted by on March 11, 2007 – 7:51 PMNo Comment

I don't care how desperately Time needs to drive up newsstand sales — no dearth of actual news, no market-research addled kowtowing to their bottom line can excuse the cover of their July 21 issue.In case you missed it, Time festooned the front of their magazine with a head shot of Jewel, the biggest flake on the scalp of the music industry, and titled it "Jewel and the Gang."Yes, ladies and gentlemen — Time's editors, apparently believing that Jewel HAD NOT RECEIVED ENOUGH PRESS LATELY, honored Jewel and her cohorts in the Lilith Fair Festival with a cover story.Under the headline, Time blathered, "Macho music is out.Empathy is in.And the all-female Lilith festival is taking rock's hot new sound on the road."

Previously, I had no idea that membership in the Time editorial board required staffers to smoke large quantities of crack cocaine through the tailpipe of a 1976 Coupe de Ville, to eat their collective weight in Pixie Sticks, and to stare directly at the sun through a telescope.But apparently, the editors take these precautions in order to deaden their nerves — nerves that Jewel stomps on with her little platform sandals.I cannot come up with any other explanation for this lapse in judgment, or for the vapid prattling about women's safe spaces and "coffeehouse pop" that Time indulged in throughout the article itself.

Christopher John Farley, the article's author, must really want an endowed chair at the Institute of Political Correctness, because between the Virginia Woolf quotes and the Joni Mitchell quotes and the golly-gee mention of lesbians holding hands at the Lilith show and the gee-whiz reference to a woman breast-feeding in public at the Lilith show, I suspect that Farley has more interest in getting some feminist friend of his into bed than he does in presenting a serious discussion of Lilith Fair.He also managed to wedge in a few stereotypes, about women's nurturing and caring qualities, and about the way that women listen better, and about women — get this! — making good music.But in the end, he missed the point completely.(I will, however, give him a big old snap for characterizing Celine Dion's music as "horrific power screeching.")

Sarah McLachlan got tired of zero airplay and the apathy of rock radio, so she started her own tour.Cool.But the press has turned Lilith Fair into the soundtrack to a Take Back The Night march, which makes me kind of sick, because if these performers want to get into the rotation on rock radio, they have to rock, and most of these women don't.Indigo Girls?Nope, don't rock.Tracy Chapman?Nope, doesn't rock.Jewel doesn't rock, and neither does Erykah Badu (I mean, she rocks, but metaphorically).The acts on the tour that have made it onto the air on a regular basis — the Cardigans and Meredith Brooks, for example, or Sheryl Crow — made it because they played the game successfully.The Cardigans had a hit song on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, and Meredith Brooks ripped off Alanis Morissette's vibe, and Sheryl Crow sucked it up and wore a few more miniskirts on MTV.Some of the Lilith headliners would have us believe that their breasts have kept them off the air, but at the end of the day, their style did.Folk music does not get regular airplay, period, unless it has some serious marketing (and a perky set of breasts) behind it.That sucks, but men have the same problem.

I like a lot of folk music.I like Tracy Chapman a lot and I have a Dylan disc playing right now.But I resent the performers of Lilith, and the press, making a feminist juggernaut out of a folk festival.I would have a lot more respect for their complaints if they came from, say, 7 Year Bitch, because they don't get any rotation either, and they rock out.

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