Sunday, October 09, 2016

R Is For . . .

26 artists, A to Z. And if Wreckless Eric can be our E, who else should be our R but his wife?

Amy Rigby /  "Invisible"

From 1998's Middlescence, the follow-up to Amy Rigby's brilliant solo debut Diary of a Mod Housewife (20 years old and still as fresh as a daisy -- for your anniversary vinyl copy go here )

Why do I keep coming back to Amy Rigby's songs? Because her snarky, punk-inflected brand of feminism is just right for me. She has a stand-up comic's irony and timing, a poet's ear for the apt phrase, and a social worker's sense of injustice.

Amy wrote this song when she was 39, and I understand that the big 4-0 would be a scary prospect for a chick singer in the male-dominated music industry,  But as someone well beyond 40 (as Amy herself is now), I know that this is more than just not hearing catcalls anymore when you walk past a construction site. It's a pervasive blankness, a negation of self. It strikes at the heart of how our society regards women. This is the reverse side of what Donald Trump's "locker-room talk" video exposed -- the fact that if you aren't hot enough to be grope-worthy, then you have no value and you really DO NOT EXIST for a sizeable proportion of the male population.

But -- hey, Amy Rigby chooses to keep things light. The tempo is bright, syncopated, the melody major key and upbeat. In verse 1 she's in a bar, surprised that no one's buying her drinks anymore. (Oh, poor dear.) In verse, she's on stage, dressed "like someone half my age." So far, self-deprecation reigns. But in verse 3, as she struts her stuff on the beach, the Creep Factor intrudes: he's only interested in her (presumably pre-pubescent) daughter. And as a mother, with Tiger Mother reflexes, her hackles rise.

And so, in the end, she slips in an oh-so-pointed rallying call: "I know it hurts to disappear / But you've got lots of company here / And we're invisible." So what if all the invisibles joined forces -- what could we accomplish?

Spurn one of those cat-calling guys and elect an invisible woman to the White House?

Well, why not?

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