This series was inspired by none other than impresario Bill Graham, who on the album Cheap Thrills introduced Big Brother and the Holding Company as “Four guys and one great, great broad.”
Readers of The Psychedelic Series know that I do not share that opinion of Janis Joplin, so in defense of the truly great broads of music, I decided to celebrate their contributions with a series.
The current version of the series is a synthesis of two series I wrote on women in music. All of these women produced remarkable work while overcoming the institutional sexism of the music industry, societal stereotypes regarding the female role and their own personal demons.
The series includes the following women and their works:
- Memphis Minnie, The Essential Recordings
- Billie Holiday, Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday
- Edith Piaf, Vol. 4, 1943-1944-1945
- Peggy Lee, The Best of Miss Peggy Lee
- Patsy Cline, The Definitive Collection
- The Shangri-Las, The Best of the Shangri-Las, Millennium Collection
- Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
- Françoise Hardy, La Question
- Phoebe Snow, Phoebe Snow
- Patti Smith, Horses
- Patti Smith, Radio Ethiopia
- June Tabor, Airs and Graces
- Joni Mitchell, Hejira
- Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
- Sade, Love Deluxe
- Ani DiFranco, Out of Range
- PJ Harvey, Is This Desire?
- Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Last but not least, there are two appendices to this series: I reviewed a compilation of “early girl” hits of the 50’s and 60’s that highlighted the expectations of women in music and the roles they chose to play in response to those expectations. While not all of these women qualify as “great broads” (some even cross the line into “ridiculous broads”), their work and their stories are fascinating from a historical-cultural perspective.
A third appendix—a review of a collection called Sexcapades: Songs for Love, Lust and Depravity—will be coming soon.
Graphic: Young Woman with Lyre, Leopold Schmutzler