This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #404: Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney.
Has this ever happened to you? You have an event to attend (a new class at school, a public lecture, even someone’s private party) and you arrive a few minutes before the appointed time, only to discover that there is hardly anyone there? It is a weird feeling. You instantly stop yourself and start to question whether or not you are supposed to be there. Is this the correct day? Did I get the time wrong and I’m too early. Luckily, these instances have been infrequent and the strange feeling of disconnect that washes over me is temporary. I always end up going in and being welcomed and having a wonderful time in the end. I always end up where I belong.
Many people in our society experience that feeling of social disconnection. For them, the feeling of inclusion that comes so easily for me tends to be more elusive for them. I can only imagine how it feels to be Indigenous in a Colonial world or to be a person of colour in our whitebread society. I, also, will never know what it is to be female in a culture ruled by the Patriarchy. Today’s song and group are all about the latter. Sleater-Kinney are an all-female group comprised of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein (vocals and guitars) and Janet Weiss (drums). They formed in the heyday of the “Seattle Grunge Scene” of the early 1990s. That was a time when bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Mudhoney, to name but, a few, were on the rise. Mainstream media were enchanted with these hard-rocking, literate, all-male bands. The Seattle scene was thriving……if……you were male and could play an instrument and/or could sing. But, what if you were female and wanted in? That wasn’t so easy. Female bands tended to be dismissed, outright or else, they were met with a chorus of misogyny or vitriol. No one really listened to their words or appreciated their musicianship.
So, in a case like that, a type of resistance emerged in the form of a political and creative movement called Riot Grrrls. The Riot Grrrl Movement consisted of mostly all-female bands whose purpose and intent was to play for an almost exclusively female audience. The content of their songs would be ones that these women weren’t seeing addressed in modern, patriarchal circles. Topics such as gender politics, sexual orientation, etc., were all on the table. Riot Grrrl bands tended to be fairly fluid in their composition; forming, playing for awhile, breaking up, reforming with new members of other bands and so on, repeating the cycle, again and again. One of the few bands that lasted over time was Sleater-Kinney.
The song “Dig Me Out” came from their third album, also called, “Dig Me Out”. Sleater-Kinney were gaining an underground following after albums #1 and 2 but, by the time “Dig Me Out” appeared, audiences and music critics really began to take notice. Just prior to its release, SPIN Magazine (who were big fans of the band) wrote an article outing Brownstein and Tucker as being in a lesbian relationship. Such a relationship was quite acceptable in Riot Grrrl circles but, even in the 1990s, the general public were still not so embracing of what would be deemed, an “alternative” lifestyle. The pressure resulting from the scrutiny that befell their private life forced the two girls to split up as a couple. But, instead of breaking up the band, Brownstein and Tucker poured their emotional energy into the songs that appeared on “Dig Me Out”. The result was an incendiary album of forceful and passionate songs from start to finish!
It is important for aspiring female rockers to have role models. For Sleater-Kinney, they had musicians such as Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth), Joan Jett and Patti Smith. But, more than just having role models, the girls of the bands that formed the Riot Grrrls Movement needed a safe place to play and to express themselves. As a result, we have terrific performances like the one you are about to see in the video for “Dig Me Out”. All three of these ladies can rock. They are all just as talented as any male band and play with just as much intensity and passion. If you watch this video, note the bond that still exists between Brownstein and Tucker as they play. They have such a natural, easy way with each other. Although they are not a couple, the affection certainly remains. It isn’t always easy to find that sense of belonging that brings about contentment and happiness but, Sleater-Kinney seem to have found it for themselves and are still bringing it to bear even today so that others may find their way, as well. Here is a ripping performance of “Dig Me Out” by the incomparable Sleater-Kinney. Enjoy!
The link to the music video for Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney can be found here.
Sleater-Kinney have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting important music and important acts like Sleater-Kinney. A link to KEXP’s website can be found here.