As discussed on episode 34. That’s a RedFlag of We’ll Circle Back, I am unabashedly nostalgic for the series of compilation CDs from the late 90s and early 00s called “Women and Songs”. There is nothing quite like sitting in your Osh Kosh Begosh striped overalls at the kitchen table, rocking out with your Mom in her big ESPRIT sweater to Sarah McLachlan as she helps you hot glue individual strands of “grass” onto your fourth grade diorama on “Pioneers: How Did They Live?”. Women and Songs allowed me to realize that: “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” even more than Shania could. It was
And more than that it was everything.
I think it is indisputable that the best of W&S canon is Women and Songs 2, which included hits such as “This Kiss” (Faith Hill), I Can’t Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt) and Give Me One Reason (Tracey Chapman). It also contained “That Dawson’s Creek Song” aka Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” which, no exaggeration, is stuck in my head at least 3% of my waking life. If you have ever looked at the full lyrics to the song (and why would you, they are merely an inconvenient barrier standing between you and screeching IDONWANNNAWAIT) they make essentially no sense. Case in point, the song’s opening lines, which sound like if IBM’s Watson computer was tasked with writing a sequel to the song Imagine:
So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I
You know that if we are to stay alive
Then see the peace in every eye
The W&S albums proceed (Tina Turnerl! Alanis Morissette! Joss Stone! Faith Hill! Ashlee Simpson and Gwen Stefani appear on Women and Songs 9 (alongside tried and true OGs like k.d. Lang and Kathleen Edwards), which is the canary in the mines heralding what is to come. By the time we reach Women and Songs 13, the album is littered with the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, who are both FINE but very clearly not meant for WOMEN! AND! SONGS! Shortly after the franchise died. Cause of death? Reckless curation.
I wanted to get back to the spirit of Women and Songs, which in my mind is not about the BEST songs overall but rather the BEST songs to have on in the background while you try a new Crock Pot recipe or rearrange your tea lights or host your book club to discuss Toni Morrison’s Beloved. It’s about bringing back that hemp-y, vaguely queer, oversized shirt and funky earring-wearing, Margaret Atwood-loving version of womanhood before the tidal wave of low rise jeans and reality dating shows swept it all away.
My goal for this post is to try and pitch for a revival Women and Songs album, which is hard for me because all I listen to at this stage of my life is current event podcasts and the soundtrack to Hamilton. Women and Songs 14 as curated by me could easily have been:
Tracks 1-9: “Satisfied”, Angelica Skylar
Track 10: That episode the Daily did about the Chinese economy
Track 11: “Good Mother” Jann Arden (from Women and Songs 1, still a banger)
But I am going to try anyway, and I have the advantage of a decade’s worth of songs to choose from. Here goes: say a little prayer for I.
1. When We Were Young - Adele
Adele is tailor-made for the Women and Songs oeuvre. It is criminal that she was shut out of the discography, as she is now very unsuccessful and obscure. If only Women and Songs could have saved her career.
2. You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go - Miley Cyrus
I love Miley Cyrus’ singing voice but struggle to enjoy what is essentially a series of concept albums where the concept is just Liam Hemsworth. Alternately, Bob Dylan writes amazing songs but has the voice of a slowly deflating goat. As Miley herself once said, this is “the best of both worlds!”
3. Burn the White Flag - Joseph
This is VERY uptempo for Women and Songs but is the perfect song to paint angry wordplay signs with which to march alongside your sisters at your latest community protest.
4. Make Me Feel - Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae is so cool that it makes my teeth hurt. Also we would be blessed to have her queer POC energy to this album, as Women and Songs ranks somewhere between Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent skiing accident and suede Blundstones as Most Caucasian Things Ever.
5. Want You Back - HAIM
This seems exceedingly self-explanatory. I feel like I don’t need to patronize you by trying to justify this.
6. Praying - Kesha
“Tik-Tok” Kesha would have been hard to reconcile with Women and Songs (although all kinds of womanhood are supported here, including waking up feeling like P. Diddy). But Kesha has shown herself to be a multifaceted pillar of strength and resilience and this is perfect to wail to in the car while dreaming of crushing the patriarchy.
7. XO - Beyonce
This song now seems v. old, being from a time when American still had Obama as President and we had never even HEARD of fidget spinners. But it’s the right energy for this and I will not apologize.
8. She Used to Be Mine - Sarah Bareilles
This is a song that she wrote for the Broadway musical Waitress. I was initially v. jazzed that this was an epic breakup song between ladiezzz but it turns out she is just singing about her past self and being pregnant and also pie? But it’s beautiful anyway even if that was a reaaallllll letdown.
9. Color Song - Maggie Rogers
Ok I just looked up Maggie Rogers for the express purpose of this task and SHE LIVES UP TO THE HYPE OKAY? I will begrudgingly put her into circulation alongside Hamilton.
10. Slow Burn - Kasey Musgraves
Kasey Musgraves is treasure and the world we have created in 2019 doesn’t deserve her. Kasey Musgraves 2020
11. Figures - Jessie Rayez
I know for a fact that my mother would visibly wince every time Jessie Reyez yells “HOW IN THE FUCK WOULD YOU FEEL” but would sacrifice her aversion to swears in order to resurrect the tour de force that is W&S.
12. Good Mother - Jann Arden
This song is enduring perfection and deserves to be on any iteration of this. I will not be taking any questions at this time.
So there’s my album! I cannot stress enough how much I DO NOT KNOW THINGS ABOUT MUSIC. Do not @ me to complain, but do @ the WCB podcast to suggest new and improved items for this tracklist of this very important but admittedly fictional iteration of the greatest CD series of our time.