After what felt like forever, spring is finally here. It’s time for clearing out the old and invigorating your life with new love, or whatever. You might oust that bum-out of a boo, or energize those lazy evenings spent couch-bound with your love, or kindle some sparking Tinder flames. While it’s the perfect time of year to delve into a little self-love and spring romance, it’s also a good time to remember that love, like most else, is political. If your love doesn’t make you feel strong and solid and inspired to make this world a more amazing, just place, well then your love ain’t no love of mine. Since so many folks wrote to tell me they loved jamming to my Winter Blues Mix, here’s a reprise you can turn up to inspire what you want in love. Then go make it manifest, whether it’s a letting go, or a receiving, or an offering to your community. And since love means many different things on many different days to many different folks, these feminist songs take a peek at love from different angles.
Track 1 > > > Yoko Ono, “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do”
Pour yourself some ginger tea and sink in to this brilliant track by Yoko Ono. In this 2007 collaboration with The Apples In Stereo, Ono revisits her 1981 track, reminding us with new energy how important it is to clearly see and be seen by your love.
Track 2 > > > Eurythmics, “Jennifer”
You know when you can’t get someone out of your head? No one sings it finer than Annie Lennox on this lush track from 1983’s iconic album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). While a bit obsessive and definitely dark (um, why is Jennifer under the water?), it exudes girl love, pure and deep.
Track 3 > > > TLC, “No Scrubs”
As the all-time best-selling all-female R&B group, there’s no question that TLC are fierce performers. And it was near impossible to choose just one feminist anthem from their long list of amazing tracks. Line “No Scrubs” up against “What About Your Friends” for just a tiny peek into their aesthetic range. “No Scrubs” is the first and funnest song I ever heard in which women have clearly-defined criteria for who they’d welcome into their world and how they’d reject those who don’t fit the list.
Track 4 > > > Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”
I am being earnest when I say that this is the most beautiful love song ever written and recorded. “If this world makes you crazy,” Cyndi Lauper will call you up on her conch shell and remind you that your true colors are, in fact, beautiful, like this video.
Track 5 > > > Asha Puthli, “I Dig Love”
This 1973 cover of George Harrison’s “I Dig Love” by Bombay-born Asha Puthli is a breathy celebration of free love. According to Puthli, the Beatles “did it like a bhajan, an Indian religious song. In 1973, when I did it, I felt I was already Indian, and the spirituality was inside me. I was trying to become Western, so I brought out the material aspect, the sexual aspect.”
Track 6 > > > Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
I’m always dubious about pop stars, but Taylor Swift seems to have come to terms with her own brand of feminism. Whether you love or leave this parodiable video, it’s hard not to smile when she takes a golf club to that Cobra. Symbol of the people using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house? Probably not. But there is something satisfying in how much fun she’s having acting out her jealous love-rage.
Track 7 > > > Grace Jones, “Love is the Drug”
Grace Jones took this kind of lame and horny Roxy Music song and hit the charts with it in the ’80s. The video’s deconstructions (bodies and otherwise) echo the effects of covering and embodying such a song. If you don’t feel like Tindering today, fall in love with this video instead.
Track 8 > > > Digable Planets, “What Cool Breezes Do”
Chant the refrain from this Digable Planets track as your spring mantra and love will be sure to bloom.
Track 9 > > > Sonic Youth, “Little Trouble Girl”
Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) plus Kim Deal (The Breeders/Pixies) equals a song to make your heart explode. “Little Trouble Girl” captures that girl/friend love that gets replaced by lust when we’re 12 and then again when we’re 18, 24, 32, 75. If only these two made more than this one track together!
Track 10 > > > Liz Phair, “Fuck and Run”
Love and lust can be complicated. And dark and twisted. Liz Phair tells the tale here of sleeping with a regrettable someone once again, and ties it back to an adolescence of shameful sexual encounters. She balances the lighthearted “letters and sodas” and the darkness of sexual escapades/possible abuse at age twelve, reminding us that each time we fuck someone, we visit the ghosts of previous encounters.
Track 11 > > > Bjork, “Declare Independence”
If the lovebug doesn’t quite bite you this spring (or perhaps you’re intentionally dousing yourself in repellant this time around), your best bet just might be to make your own flag, and raise your flag. Higher! Higher!
Track 12 > > > Ana Tijoux, “Shock”
Let’s keep it real for a second. If your love only extends to your self and your beloved, we’ve got a problem. Chilean feminist artist Ana Tijoux says “Shock,” a track about Chile’s student uprisings, was inspired by Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine—which brilliantly unpacks American capitalism’s global exploits. Bringing Klein’s ideas to Tijoux’s masses of fans, and honoring how one feminist thinker inspires another—now that’s love.
Track 13 > > > Georgia Anne Muldrow, “Best Love”
Don’t be fooled—this track released not in 1979 but in 2012 by the brilliant Georgia Anne Muldrow. In this soul-inspired, captivating song, Muldrow argues that the best love involves making a difference. It’s tongue-in-cheek when she says, “Give me 20 dollars boo to build a well in Mexico” but flat-out honest when she ends “Why don’t we make it good for real?”
* * *