“Allergic to Water,” am I gettin’ happier or just getting old? Ani Difranco induced self-reflection (surely you haven’t heard THAT ONE before…)
I saw Ani Difranco in concert last night. I don’t know if it is part of getting older or simply reflecting on “the past,” but I have been experiencing a lot of feelings. Over the years Ani has been such a part of my process, primarily from ages 15-25ish and she is currently making a resurgence in my life. So when I say process I mean me AGING as well as growing and changing my mind, body and spirit.
She sang many old songs, classics, if you will. Music has a way of re-booting memories and triggering the emotions that are stored within said memories. I was able to re-visit my state mind when I first heard these songs; how I have interpreted them as the years went by and how I hear and interpret them now.
Naturally my understanding of her songs have charged. Much of the time it really was in the best interest of my 15 year old self to be unable to “get” many of Ani’s messages. She writes about some pretty heavy topics that could easily discourage a young person (any person, really). But my mind has comprehended her messages as I have become ready to.
Ani’s music covers many areas: politics, feminism, details of her family dynamic and how it has affected her life over the years, abortion (her own and the politics surrounded the issue) mother-hood, love and heart-ache. She has had SO much of it!
I know that heart-ache is one of her themes that have resonated with me over the years. Her songs about relationships have changed immensely as have I (thank god). Recently Ani realized that the common theme in virtually all of her heart-aches was….her. Her. 10, 15, 30 “relationships” later the other has gone and now she is left with herself, the creator of her woes, to contend with. Damn. Haha. Anyone who decides to take responsibility for their actions can understand this. Anyone who realizes that they got themselves into many (all?) of their messes gets it. But no judgements, this realization that we are active players in our life takes time and patience. Her experiences were all necessary to get her there. Much like my experiences were all necessary to get me there.
Her music post-realization is so different than pre. She writes love songs – Ani Difranco writing love songs! Really creative, really sweet very humorous love songs (such as: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw2UDRdHlk8).
I need to mention that I began listening to Ani when I was in 9th grade in an attempt to, ironically, impress a boy, Nat Nichols. I still smirk about it now but there was good reason behind it. I adored Nat and Nat ADORED Ani Difranco. I needed an excuse to talk to him so I went to Sam Goody and purchased her CD “Imperfectly.” Long story short Nat and I “dated” for 3 months and then he broke my little 15 year old heart (that I left exposed for him to do as he pleased with) and I was crushed. And really mad. I am surprised at my 15 year-old-self and her taste for revenge. I searched out Ani’s tour dates and marched myself down to Newport, RI to see Ani in concert. Take that, Nat! That was my thinking at the time at least…
*Side note: I saw Ani in concert several times in the years after Newport, and I purchased album after album after album. I was hooked. Hooked on her sound, her message, her energy, her creativity, her fearlessness slash her openness with her fears.
Ani’s tough-girl attitude has softened over the years. I think growing up and motherhood has attributed to this. She sang tonight that “This is me, sincerely, doing the best that I can.” Both as if she were defending herself (which she has done many times, her fans are certainly critics) but also letting us all know part of her truth. Ani, like the rest of us, is doing the best that she can do. Take what you’d like.
She spoke briefly about writing from the heart about your own experiences, “her creed.” It may be what makes her newer stuff so different from her older music. It was a reminder to me to be open and honest in my sharing.
Lots of feelings. I am relieved that I am not having a crisis of sorts. I can look back on my (many) Ani related experiences and be happy and laugh at myself…a lot. But also go feel such appreciation towards many things. For starters, Nat Nichols for introducing me to Ani. ANI for being her! My mother who brought me to those concerts.
She’s a Libra by the way. Ani, not my mother…
My CD player in my 97′ Ford Escort Station wagon to listen to Ani (and wo-man did I listen to Ani), all the women and men (mostly women) who I allowed to break my heart which lured me to angry Ani heart-ache music and the process introduced me to her thoughtful, politic sound, and the recent events that have opened up a space in my life again for Ani Difranco.
I have experienced life because I can look back on the life I have lived. I can laugh and cry but also be thankful that I experienced it and that it is over…Part of evolving is being unable to return to the way we were before. Once you see things differently you cannot go back, you cannot become blind again. I consider it a gift to be able to re-visit moments in my life, perhaps during very, active shall we say…times in life…and be gentle with myself. Thankful it happened and thankful that it is over.
My reflection last night and into this morning is also a good reminder that we do not start out knowing the outcomes of our actions or the true reasons why we do things. I had no idea what I was getting myself into in 1998 when I went into Sam Goody and purchased Ani’s CD “Imperfectly.” Gosh darnit I am glad I did though.
Some thangs I’m thinking about. Would love to read your thoughts:
What events have caused you to re-visit past-experiences and lessons in your life? “Tell me how that made you feel” 😉
Who has led you through experiences and/or trudged along with you? Like my motha at all those Ani concerts!
What experiences have any of ya’ll had that turned out to affect you in very different ways than originally intended? (Like…buying the CD, affectionately referred to ask “Ani’s lesbian CD” in an attempt to impress a boy…but instead opened the Ani D doors in my life).
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