Listening to Women
Over the course of the past year me and my best human have listened to music compiled from lists of the top jazz, reggae and folk-rock albums. It has been a year of discovery, re-discovery, deep listening and learning; and mostly great enjoyment. A few albums were binned after one listen (not many) because in spite of an open mind, some work was unlistenable, at least to our ears.
Through the course of the year, it became apparent to us both that there was something missing, something unbalanced in our lists. Women. There were just too few women represented in the compilations. We decided that in 2021 we would have a dedicated list of 52 albums by women to listen to over the course of the year, one per week. And I decided that I would write a blog post each week to accompany the listening.
I have chosen the list. Much of the music I have chosen I do not know very well or at all. I want to expand my range of listening and to hear women’s voices from across the world. A few of the albums are revisits, works I have admired in the past but have not encountered for a while.
It would have been easy to compile a list of my personal favourite albums by women but that is not the point of this exercise. I know what I already admire, I want to expand and explore. The list I have compiled is not in order. There is no hierarchy, no subjective ‘best album by a woman ever’ for week 52. Those kinds of lists are a helpful starting point but not a useful end. Each album on my list is to be approached as a world of its own, a place to explore and enjoy without an artificial ranking, decided by a music critic.
Each week, my blog post will explore the album and some of the context around it. I am sure there will be albums I don’t much like- that is inevitable because taste is subjective. But I know I will discover treasures along the way. I imagine that some of my revisits will be disappointing because I am not the person now that I was when I first encountered those works.
Of course there are thousands of great albums in the world by women and I am exploring just 52 of them. There are works I have decided not to include for a number of reasons, in spite of some of them being considered iconic. I have a feeling that this process is a starting point and that I will be wandering into wonderful musical realms of discovery and finding more to explore along the way.
I will publish a new post each week to accompany this musical odyssey and I hope readers will enjoy the posts and the music.
I wish everyone a good year and I hope 2021 will be better for all the beings of the earth and the planet herself.