Monday, March 5, 2012
VH1 100 GREATEST: THE INDIGO GIRLS
Secondly, it's been a while since VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music countdown ended, but my other posts are still doing pretty well, so I'll write a few more. It's always exciting, and a true honor, to be asked to be on a VH1 show. The way this one turned out, I didn't get to comment about some of my favorite artists. Not that I'm complaining! But I'm taking to my blog to say what I would have said, if I was in those segments.
So: The Indigo Girls. I love them. I saw them open for Neil Young on his solo acoustic tour in the summer of 1989, when he was trying out songs that would later end up on Freedom. I caught the end of their set, and I thought they were great. At the time, they had a semi-hit single with "Closer To Fine" from their self titled LP from that year (it wasn't their debut, but it was their major label debut). I picked it up, and loved it. After that - it was album after album after album of great music. I bonded with some women who used to frequent the bar that I DJed at in college over our shared love of The Girls. Fans definitely identified with one or the other. I love Emily Sailers, but I definitely identified with Amy Ray more. She's much more punk rock. I love both of their guitar styles, both of their songs (they never really wrote together, I like Amy's more), and their politics. They definitely put their money where their mouths are. They have never sold out, or even approached selling out. They don't get enough credit for that. The rock critic types tend to make fun of them, I guess because they are ernest.
Years after becoming a fan, I got to meet them on a number of occasions: I interviewed them a bunch of times, and even wrote their record label bio (twice!). If any of their hard core fans are reading this, they should know: Amy and Emily are as cool in real life as you'd think.
What albums would I recommend? If you had to pick one, you should go with the double live album, 1200 Curfews from 1995. I think it's one of the best live albums ever, it really gives the vibe of what their shows were like. It's almost like they weren't a part of the music business. They had nothing to do with anything that was ever going on around them, they were always themselves. The fans loved them for it, and you really hear it on this album. As far as studio albums go, wow... start with The Indigo Girls and go forward from there. 1994's Swamp Ophelia is one of their most popular records (it had two hits, "Power Of Two" and "Least Complicated"). I remember the somewhat bizarre experience of seeing them on that tour at a Z100 Christmas concert. 1999's Come On Now Social and 2002's Become You are both really great also. My favorite might be 1992's Rites Of Passage.
I gotta give VH1 credit for including them in the countdown. No one would have yelled at them if they didn't. The Girls really do exist outside the mainstream these days, they aren't with a huge management company or label. The VH1 folks (and yes I used to work there) included them because they deserved to be there, and that's based on how great their music has been over the past (almost) 25 years.