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DYKE A Quarterly No. 2, 1976. Rated XX: Recorded Women's Music. Review by Liza Cowan

 

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


Dyke a quarterly, No 2,  rated xx, recorded women's music, rounder records, mountain moving day, virgo rising

Dyke a quarterly, no 2, p 26, 27,rate it xx, women's music, virgo rising, olivia records, meg christian
DYKE A Quarterly, no. 2 pp 28, 29, women's music, olivia records, meg christian, cris williamson, casse culverRated XX: Recorded Women's Music. 1976. Review by Liza Cowan. Click to enlarge images.

Introduction 1

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.

 

Electra rewired 1972 cassette tape aircheckAircheck, Electra Rewired, WBAI 1972, Liza Cowan

Introduction 2

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, the new haven women's liberation rock band, the chicago women's liberation rock band, rounder recordsMountain 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.

 

 

 


DYKE A Quarterly Issue No 3, pp 46,47, Reviews

Dyke No 3 p 46, review of Sex Variant Women In Literature Jeanette foster written by Penny House

Dyke No 3 p 47 Review To The Man Reporter From the Denver Post, Chocolate Waters and Linda Shear by Elana Dykewomon

Review of Sex Varient Women in Literature by Jeanette Foster. Review by Penny House.

Excerpt:

" The book is divided up by century and by country. In a succinct and interesting way, Jeanette Foster summarizes the plots of each piece, analyzing the way in which the Lesbian characters are presented. She sketches out each period's political and scientific climate and this plus her analysis of the character presentation ennable her to give a vivid portraid of the particular social atmosphere surrounding Lesbians of each period."

 

Linda Shear/Lesbian Portrait. Review by Elana Dykewomon

excerpt:

"Linda Shear in concert has literally changed Lesbians' lives, my own included. She was one of the guiding energies behind Family Of Woman band (and sings "Family of Woman" near the end of the tape-not our present reality but a direction for our future) the first out front Lesbian band in the world. But then, as now, it was difficult to find women who support and sponsor all-women's concerts. "

 

 

 Glory be to youtube, you can now hear Linda online.


DYKE A Quarterly, no. 3, pp 48/49 - Reviews: Hysterical Hystoricals

Dyke No 3 p 48 reviews
DYKE A Quarterly No. 3. p. 48. Reviews of Linda Shear and The Performance at Grace & Rubies CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

Dyke No 3 p 49 reviews
DYKE A Quarterly No. 3 p. 49. Review of Hysterical Hystoricals, Lesbian Connection, Dynamite Damsels CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

 

Hysterical Hystoricals: A Lesbian-Feminist Revue

 Written and produced by: IV Women Productions; Doreen DiBiagio, Chris Larkin, Robyn Lutsky, Joanne Schumann. Directed by Margueite McLaughlin. Music by Robyn Lutsky. Musical arrangements Kathi Sheer. Orchestration by Roberta Kosse. Musical direction by Robyn Lutsky and Kath Sheer. Lighting design by Shelly Blue, Dreen DiBiagio and Debbie Wieser. Set design by Doreen DiBiagio. Costumes by Louise Martinez. Choreography by Murphy Cross. Musicians: Mrj Conn, Robyn Lutsky, Natash Olate, Kathi Sheer, Alina Trobridge. Cast: Kathy Tedeschi, Marge Helenchild, Jan Goldman, JoAnn Starkey, Lillian Engelson, Doreen DiBiagia, Chris Larkin and Robyn Lutsky.

 

We were just talking about how nice it would be to see a Lesbian musical play when the fleer for Hysterical Hystoricals came in the mail. Of course we ordered tickets and went to see the play during Lesbian Pride Week in New York City.

 

How nice it was to go into the little theater with real theater seats and a real stage. It was exciting to sit and wait for it all to begin, watching the heater fill up with Dykes, all different types of Dykes, some scruffy movement Dykes, some not scruffy movement Dykes, and several women wearing bouffant hairdos and shell tops. I never see these kind of women at most Lesbian events, and it was a pleasure to see them at the theater.

 

We read the program and then the lights dimmed and the orchestra began the overture. It was great. We had been listening to Guys and Dolls and Oklahoma for months and it was a thrill to listen to the overture of a real Dyke musical. The play began. It was a series of short skits, commemorating the bicentennial, sort of, but mostly commemorating Dykes. Queen Isabella and Christina Columbus are having  lovers spat. Christina goes off to sail around the world with her all women crew. In a later skit, “Sappho’s Hideaway” Christina has discovered the New World in a women’s bar in Flatbush. The year is 1493. “I’m always late” says Christina “We had to start without you” they say. In another skit, Ms. Grossinger negotiates a deal to by Manhattan for Ms. Rockerfeller. In a ballroom scene all ten Dykes in the cast are wearing long ball gowns, singing and dancing with each other. The look terrific, hairy arpits, cowboy boots and all. They give an award to Zero, who does underground work with women. She always leaves the mark of Zero. She is a klutz.

 

In the old West, two cowbutches are planning a showdown gunfight to see who will wind the femme. The femme becomes disgusted, “You’re a mean and ornery critter, Calra mae” she said. “Neither of you can win me.” And she goes off with another femme.

 

The skits were all well done & very funny. Sometimes it was a little hard to hear the lyrics to the songs, but we were sitting right next to the drum. The music was well arranged, catchy, well played and hummable. The costumes were funny and funky. Everything was good. The show was entertaining and inspiring as well. It was truly a pleasure to spend an evening at Dyke Theater. By Liza Cowan


Review of DYKE, A Quarterly from The Lesbian Tide "DYKE STRIKES OUT'

 

The Lesbian Tide, a magazine from Los Angeles, really hated us! Here's their review of Issue No. 1:

 

Lesbian Tide review of DYKE A Quarterly Review of DYKE in The Lesbian Tide, March/April 1976


Dyke purports to be a separatist magazine reporting "analysis, communication and news" of Lesbian culture. What it is in fact is a vehicle for the personal ramblings of its two editors (high-school diary style) and a mishmash of politically naive thinking they call Dyke Separatism.

Separatism, as espoused by Dyke, is a luxury item for the privileged few. For those that can afford it, the best I can say is "Gee whiz, you lucky dykes sure do have a great life". For the rest of us, its crucial lack of awareness of lesbian and women's oppression is classist, ignorant and infuriating. Two examples of this are chronicled in the section called "California Diary."

One is an incident where the two right-on dykes ask a stewardess if she wouldn't be more comfortable in pants, instead of her mini-skirt uniform, and are surprised at her taking offense. She's probably be most comfortable being independently wealthy and quitting that oppressive job where she has to grovel to travelers all day long for crumby money. The issue of pants does not exactly speak to her oppression, since she can't control PSA's requiring stewardesses to dress like sex objects, nor change the fact that she needs the job to survive. How'd they miss the point?

We were both angry and highly amused by this review. Puzzled too. How could the author not get that the one of the things that made the stewardesses job oppressive was that she was forced to wear hot pants? Meanwhile, unbeknownst to The Lesbian Tide, stewardesses themselves were claiming their own power, organizing and changing the rules

Another interesting misuse of separatism is their report of visiting a local feminist bookstore and finding a man (of all things) shopping there. They harass him and finally make him leave. What that accomplished was that it lost the bookstore some money. Six women's livelihoods depend on that bookstore, and in these pre "Lesbian Nation" times men's money has the same buying power as women's. The bookstore is glad to rip it off and  re-filter it into  alternative jobs for women.

Well, as a retailer myself, now, I don't think I'd appreciate my customers harassing other customers, which is certainly what we were doing, as reported in "California Diary." It was interesting, though, that the author felt that selling things to men was "ripping them off" but selling  the same things to a woman was not a ripoff.  Interesting attitude for a retailer.

The worst part of the critique, however, was that the author failed to mention that she was a co-owner of Sisterhood Bookstore. Because we believed so strongly in situated knowledge and transparency, this kind of false - if implied- claim to objectivity really stunned us.


Here's our (rather hot headed) response, which they probably published, or published some of. Click on the thumbnail image and the bigger page will pop up. You can double click to enlarge even more.