Here is another review from this long article, Rated XX. I've broken them up into separate posts to make the reading easier:
Lavender Jane Loves Women, review by Liza Cowan in DYKE A Quarterly, No. 2, 1976,
In March of 1973 Alix met Kay Gardner at the Women’s Skills Festival at the women’s center in Manhattan. Soon they began to meet together for reversals. The first time they performed together was at the Lesbian Lifespace benefit at Barnard in NYC. It was right around this time that Alix, Smokey and Mary and I began to talk about and analyze the human being theory, and we started to develop a separatist consciousness. We had been fortunate that almost all of the women’s events we had attended in NYC had performances for women only as well as for mixed audiences. At Brooklyn College there were some men present for one of Kay and Alix’s performances. Alix was able to make them leave before she sang her Lesbian songs. That was the last time men were ever able to set foot in one of Alix’s concerts. We knew how disgusting it would be to have men present, and insisted that there be only women allowed at the concerts. Lavender Jane made its titled debut at the women’s center in August 1973. Abacate, who had been playing bass with Alix and Kay, left to join the women’s rock band, Street Fighting Woman (later known as Sister Moon). Soon they found Patches Attom to play bass, and in October they went into the studio to record Lavender Jane Loves Women.
Each time I listen to this album I am disappointed in the way it sounds. Alix and Kay are almost drowned in reverb (echo) and there is so much tape hiss that I have to cringe. I realize that many women are not bothered by this, but to me, sound quality is one of the most important features of a recording. Besides being the oldest cliché in recording, the reverb makes Alix and Kay sound like they were at the bottom of a canyon. There is no presence. I want to feel like the singer and musicians are sitting next to me, not in the next county.
Other than that I think Lavender Jane Loves Women is a far out, brilliant album. It is so blatant and specific, you never have to guess what Alix is singing about in a song. I am a detail junkie, I always want to know every detail about something that interests me. I think it is important to know how and why something was made or written, what it was based on, what year it was done, and what was happening at the time, etc, etc. Alix satisfies my need for details in her liner notes. It’s our history and I want to know all about it.
One thing that I feel is so fantastic about Alix’s music is that she sings so explicitly about Dyke experiences. I love and dearly appreciate that everything she writes about comes directly from her own experiences, and is written about as such. There are no vague generalities (except in her old hetero songs, and you won’t hear too many of those.) Many women love to hear A Woman’s Love, one of Alix’s coming out songs. She wrote it from my 23rd birthday, in 1972, but it is really about her, the anxiety of coming out, and the delight of actually being out. View From Gay head is the first Dyke separatist song I ever heard. It chronicles the events and ideas that led us to be separatists. Smokey and Mary used to talk about men being ‘them’ and the women ‘us’, not all human beings. I was really upset at having to look through all the books by men in the library. Carol Hardin, our neighbor and my partner for Cowrie (a Lesbian magazine) spoke of pacifying men with pretty smiles, and Louise Fishman had just finished her electrifying series of paintings: Angry Djuna, Angry Radclyffe Hall, Angry Alix, Angry Harmony, Angry Judy, Angry Billie, Angry Sarah, Angry Bertha, et. al. Alix took all our thoughts and turned them into a song so Dykes all over the world could share the ideas with us.
Another thing I like about LJLW is how varied it is, with Balkan songs, old American folk songs, and original compositions. I’m also glad to hear children singing on Little House, and Kay’s piccolo solo is fantastic on that cut. Many Dykes objected to the song Charlie, because who want to hear about some dumb man? I agree. Talking Lesbian is another separatist delight. Kay Gardner’s flute playing on this album is wonderful to hear, supporting Alix’s voice with her beautiful tone and intonation. Her arrangements add another dimension to Alix’s music.
After all these years I still adore Alix's music. It just doesn't get old for me. And now you can get it on iTunes, which is something we'd never have been able to imagine in our wildest dreams. Not just the technology, which is mind boggling, but the idea that Alix's music would be available in any other venue than ones that are totally controlled by women. Of course, you can still buy her cd's at Ladyslipper Music, and I encourage you to do so. For albums, you will have to search online auctions.
For more on Alix Dobkin and Lavender Jane see Queer Music Heritage Website
More on Louise Fishman HERE
DYKE A Quarterly, no. 2. Rated XX: Recorded Women's Music - A Few Loving Women by Lesbian Feminist Liberation
From DYKE, A Quarterly No. 2. Rated XX, Recorded Women's Music reviews by Liza Cowan:
WOMEN’S MUSIC, NYC 1971
In 1971 I would occasionally have women musicians on my radio show. None were feminists, certainly their music was not directed to women. Several women sent tapes of their music to me. None of these women had any talent for writing or singing. I used to say over the air that I was looking for women musicians to play on the show, and one day Alix Dobkin called me and told me that she sang and wrote and would like to be on Electra Rewired. I scheduled her to appear on Dec. 13th, 1971. A few hours before airtime I realized that she was to be my only guest for a five hour live show, and I had never even heard her! We went on the air, we talked for a little while, and then she sang a song she had just written, My Kind Of Girl. I couldn’t believe my ears. She was fantastic. She sang a out a dozen songs, we talked some, and we had to go off the air early because of transmitter difficulties. Two months later we were lovers, four months after that I was fired. By this time Alix had started to write Lesbian songs (A Woman’s Love). We began to explore Lesbian culture and Lesbian Politics. In the fall of 1972 we used to spend many Sunday afternoons at the firehouse on Wooster St, where Lesbian Feminist Liberation was housed. Each week there would be a discussion or presentation of some kind. Sometimes there were music afternoons, where many women would play and sing. It was beautiful to hear so much Lesbian music.
A FEW LOVING WOMEN
The first Lesbian record album was made by Lesbian Feminist Liberation in 1973. It is called a few loving women and, like the Sunday afternoon music events, it is a collective effort of many different Lesbians. It starts off with I’d Like To Make Love With You, a wonderful song by Margaret Sloan. I love the way Margaret sings. She’s direct and charming and she makes the most out the few chords that she can play on her four string guitar. There are two songs by Martha and Lucy Van Felix Wilde (authorss of the book of Lesbian short stories, The Ripening Fig) Their song, Gladys’s Revelation is one of my favorites on the album. “As Gladys sat praying in temple one day, a thought was disturbing her peace. A strange and terrible passion, my Lord, has taken a hold of my niece. She came to me with a light in her eyes, speaking of love and of joy, tell me, how can I learn to respond like an aunt, when her lover isn’t a boy." (this song can be found also in the book, We Are All Lesbians, published by Violet Press.) Roberta Kosse and her group Women Like Me, sing some good and interesting songs, and one funny one called The Big Orgasm. Some of the songs on the album are not very good. The music and lyrics are often awkward, sometimes over dramatic or too long. I bought this album at the Firehouse when it was hot off the press. I bring it out every once in a while, and I enjoy listening, because it reminds me of those Sunday afternoon.
From Outhistory. Gay Activists Alliance History re the firehouse and how the group Lesbian Feminist Liberation began:
Article on a few loving women:
On Margaret Sloan-Hunter:
This article is long and I plan to transcribe and write commentary on the whole thing. I will be adding more in bits, as I get them done. So stay tuned and check back. And, as always, feel free to chime in.-Liza
This article is about my reactions to all the women’s music released on records and tapes to date. I define women’s music as music that is made by, for and about women. What this means, in effect is that women’s music is Lesbian Music. I am always offended to see women’s records for sale in straight stores. I have seen them in movement and “peoples” stores all over the country, and I don’t think they have any business being there. I do not want men to even set their beady little eyes on our culture; the thought of them actually buying or listening to women’s music is nauseating to me; and they most certainly should not be allowed to make money from women’s music. I have also heard stories about musicians from the women’s music community telling the patriarchal press about women’s music, and telling mixed audiences about women’s private business. I consider this to be a breach of confidence. The only women I know who limit their music distribution are Alix Dobkin and Linda Shear. Alix sells Lavender Jane Loves Women in women’s and gay stores only. Living With Lesbians sells in women’s stores only.
This article has been very hard for me to write because I am writing about so many different women, there is so much to say, and I have had to write about the things that I did not like about each record. There has been a movement dictum that we are not to criticize our ‘sisters’ and if someone does criticize it is called ‘trashing’ and everybody gets mad. I think this is absurd. When Alix writes a song I give her word by word criticism. If something is not clear, or inaccurate, or sounds wrong, I tell her. I think about what se has written, and I respond to it. When I am writing I always go to Alix for her to criticize my work. She tells me which parts are confusing or awkward, or suggests words. If I don’t know how to express something we discuss it until I can get a clear idea of what I want to say. We depend on each other for this. It has not always been easy. Sometimes it hurts, and I want to say, “It’s my writing, butt out!” but later I usually find that what she has said is true. She feels the same about my criticisms of her work. Penny, Smokey, and Mary also criticize our work, and each others’ work. The more we do it, the easier it gets.
Please keep in mind when you are reading this, that for each song or record that I dislike, there are women who love it, and equally, that each one I like has women who don’t like it. There are as many ways to perceive these records and tapes as there are women to listen to them.
I hope you all get a chance to buy or listen to all of these records and tapes. They are our culture and our history.
I discovered the women’s liberation movement in 1970. That same year I started to do feminist radio on WBAI in NYC. I worked on a program called Electra Rewired which was a weekly live feminist show. At first there were three women working on it, and my job was to find music. Sometimes I would ransack the station record library to find women composers. Pauline Oliveros and Ruth Crawford Seeger are two I remember playing. We would play Joan Baez, Judy Collins and other folkies. A year later I was doing the show alone. I played The Marvelletes, Carole King, Dionne Warwicke, Alice Coltrane, Dusty Springfield, Joy of Cooking, Billie Holliday, Carol Hall, Mary Welles, Denise LaSalle, Laura Nyro. The closest I could find to feminist lyrics was in songs like Natural Woman and Respect as sung by Aretha Franklin and Mama Didn’t Lie sung by Jan Bradley. “The greatest passion in this man’s world is making eyes at every young girl. To have one is how they get their kicks, but not me, because I know their tricks.” Another one was the Honeycones; The Day That I lost You, “you know, men are full of schemes, they’re masters of getting control of our minds and making us dependent on them.” Too bad that in this song she “found identity with someone else”. One of my favorite songs to play on the radio was I Hate Men from the Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate. At this time the only song I’d heard written by a feminist was Tired Of Fuckers Fucking Over Me by Bev Grant, which I could not play over and over on the radio. It was during these years that I first became conscious of the sexism in the lyrics of rock songs.
Mountain Moving Day, Rounder Records, Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band, Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band, 1972
Mountain Moving Day
In 1972 the Chicago Women’s Liberation rock Band and the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band released their joint album, Mountain Moving Day. Each group recorded one side of the album. In the pamphlet enclosed in the record they say, “We didn’t want to write the female counterpart of songs like Under My thumb, Back Street Girl, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, where men say to us, “you’re beneath contempt and we will celebrate your degradation.” As performers we didn’t want to get off by trashing the people we played for, and we didn’t want to have a star backed up by a squad of secondary musicians. But what did we want, anyway? We knew that we wanted t make music that would embody the radical, feminist, humanitarian vision we shared. And the lyrics were the obvious place to begin. The field was wide open. Most of the rock songs that woman have sung till now were about the pain men cause u – the pain that’s supposed to define us a women. We didn’t want to deny that tradition (women struggled hard for the right to sing even that much) but we wanted to sing about how the pain doesn’t have to be there – how we fight and struggle and love to make it all change…”
For some reason, I never heard this record until last week. As soon as I heard it I fell for it. It is full of turn-of-the-decade sisterhood energy, and, although I didn’t hear it at the time, it clearly brings back all the feelings I had when I realized how thrilling it was to be a woman on the verge of changing my life and my consciousness. In So Fine by the NHWLRB, Judy Miller says, “Now I want to say something about how we got to feel so fine. We haven’t always been this strong, and we’re not as strong now as we
Re gonna be. I takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of pain, too. We used to think that women really were inferior. We used to think we were only good for: pleasing me, having babies, doing housework, having shit jobs, doing volunteer work, and –you know- sex! We didn’t know that women could get together and” play rock music, fix our cars, give abortions, love our sisters, stay single, choose our own lifesyle and – you know – say No!” the WWLRB is really powerful in its lyrics and the way they are spoken and sung. From Secretary by Sherry Jenkins: “Get up/Downtown? Think Ill talk to Alice she may understand? No Trust/Big Bust/ Wonder if the new girls lives along/ men’s eyes/fantasize/Jodi wants to tell the boss to get off/Elevators/See you later’s / Tell all the girls, noon in the lunchroom/ And maybe we’ll all wear pants tomorrow.” The whole album is beautiful, strong, moving and funny. It is excellently engineered by Susan Jenks. The musicians and the arrangements are also excellent. The album was produced and distributed by Rounder Records, which is, or was then, mostly men. It is, to me, the musical equivalent to the book, Sisterhood Is Powerful.
I am not interested in being a WOMAN musician, doing what the “Movement Women Musicians (even, and sometimes especially Lesbians) define as Women’s Music. I have heard myself discussed within the words of “us” and “we”. But you and I have very different views about who “we” are, and who the enemy is.
We confront a struggle to survive with very different assumptions. As we compute, analyze, judge, and utilize our experiences as Lesbians, musician, and women, in very different ways.
You want to deal within a broad category because “our lives are so complex”. I say that our lives are some complex because we Lesbians have dealt too long with a broad category. We have Helped build broad categories, and then discover that our Lesbian identities become lost in these universal, patriarchal-motivated, subversive broad categories. And I am bitter about being banned from the “movement concert-circuit” because I will not sing my songs for men.
click on image to enlarge. Edited text in grey, below:
We would like to have correspondents from communes and communities all over the country. We would like to hear about what books Dykes are reading, what movies they are going to, how they are raising their children, how they are celebrating their holidays, what arts they are involved with, what their living arrangements are. We are interested in all the varied things that happen in the every day life of a Dyke community. If you would like to be a correspondent, please write for details.
....Meanwhile, back in Iowa City, Grace & Rubies Restaurant is still alive, kicking and struggling to get out from under while the City's new mayor, a woman, instructs the human relations commission to investigate the legality of the restaurant's policy of refusing membership (and admittance) to men. The outcome of the investigation is unknown, but if it takes the commission as long to investigate Grace & Rubies as it does to investigate sex discrimination in employment claims, the restaurant will be around fo a number of years, no matter what the outcome.
The Iowa City Women's press, a Lesbian press collective, just finished printing "Sister Heathenspinster's Almanac and Lunation Calendar" last month and is currently working on a series of skills manuals written by local Dykes on auto mechanics, carpentry and electrical wiring.
The press collective has been around since 1972 trying to give Lesbians/women access to printing tools, whether that be to learn the skill of printing or to print material done by Lesbians/women who do not have access to commercial printing. In addition to their press, the collective also operate a photography darkroom.
The press can print color, black and white reverses, and reproduce photographs. In the past the press has printed cards and posters with the Chicago Women's Graphics Collective, a Lesbian calendar, a non-sexist children's book and health pamphlets for the women's health clinic in Iowa City. Other women have also used the press to print their works: The Common Woman, a woman's poetry book; and the Ain't i A Woman collective printed a pamphlet about academic women in the movement, Academic Feminists.
At this point, the press is trying to make contacts in the Midwest and other parts of the country with women who have material to print and are looking for a press to print it. The press collective doesn't have the resources for publishing, but they are willing to work on ideas to get money and can help find distribution sources. The press can be reached by mail....
In the entertainment world, 100 Dykes bought a block of tickets and got dressed to the tee to see Lily Tomlin perform in Iowa City. Tomlin's interview about how it was to play a heterosexual in "Nashville" brought cheers of approval from the Dyke crowd and perplexed looks from the straight audience. How nice it was to see so many Dykes have so much fun with so many straight people wondering how there ever came to be so many of us in one place.
For more on Iowa City Dyke history go here.
The Chicago Women's Graphics Collective circa 1975. source
Almost every Lesbian household we visited in those days had at least one poster from the Chicago Women's Graphics Collective. This was a favorite of ours. Horses, Amazons and Dykes. Who could resist? Not us.
For more on The Chicago Women's Graphics Collective see HERE Michelle Moravec, Towards a Revolutionary Women's Culture, The Politics of Women's Culture.
Ads for Alix Dobkin's album, Living With Lesbians, graphics by Aenjai press. Linda Shear's album, A Lesbian Portrait. Ad for Sherry, Carpenter Consultant.
Editors and Workers: Liza Cowan, Penny House
Typeset by: O.B.U. New York City
Printed by: Tower press
DYKE pays for all articles and graphics that it publishes.
Deadline for Summer Issue: April 30, Deadline for Fall issue: July 15
DYKE, Spring 1976, Volume One, Number Two: DYKE is published quarterly by Tomato Publications, LTD. 70 Barrow St. New York, NY 10014. Subscription price; $8.00 per year. Overseas: $12.00. Single copy $3.50. Institutions, $20. Free on request to women in prisons and mental institutions. Copyright Tomato Publications, Ltd. 1976, New York, All rights reserved.
The cover is a photograph taken last summer by Janie Weiss. The wome are Do, LInda, and Pat O'Brian (See Bread and Roses interview)
In Volume One, number one, in the article on the New York Women's Coffeehouse the first sencence on page 13 should read, "the politics of how and when we spend our money have not been discussed enough."