I was in Junior High… my brother had just come back to visit from college… a forgotten tape lay there in the car – it contained music that would forever change my life… The tape was labeled “Slutting” – that’s all, it had no pornographic or crass references – just slutting and a piece of artwork that reminded me of something by Frank Miller… The funny thing about the tape is that it only had music on one side... It was given to my brother by a high school friend of his –my first encounter with what today you’d call a hipster – I would label her my first alternative indie rock crush… The track list was typed up on an old school dot matrix printer and said “Ani DiFranco (Out of Range)”… Disclaimer: I did some research and found out that Ani DiFranco released Out of Range in 1994 – which couldn’t be true because I was in high school in 1994… I’ve verified the dates with my brother and he’s corroborated my time order… He did mention that the hipster friend was really into the underground indie scene in the early 90s, that she could have very well had a bootleg… I’m still searching for a garage band called “Red October Conspiracy a Go Go” – she was definitely a cool cat…
On drives to and from school we had our tapes: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Faith no More, Soundgarden, (kids running around wearing Doc Martens and flannel shirts in the heat – it was grunge in the desert)… Ani Difranco had a different sound than I had ever heard, it wasn’t grunge, it wasn’t screaming through the speaker, it was a female’s vocals that sounded so warming and caring, but so hurt and misunderstood. I couldn’t tell what Ani was about, some of her songs were about love, but you weren’t sure whether she was singing to a man or a woman… She had moments of dancey indie rock and tunes of extreme heartache and pain. My little sister and I soon found ourselves constantly listening to the tape that would forever refine our taste in music… whether we were going to bounce around in the car to “Out of Range” or we were going to Cry about the fact that track three was about a sad stripper who was abused at a very young age; or how about how you are a china shop and I am a bull… we were listening to music that was much older than we could understand – but we loved it… Looking back, my kid sister may have been a little too young to listen to Ani, but she turned out much cooler than the rest of her siblings so I’m gonna let it slide..
You also have to remember, this was Bahrain pre 1994… There were 3 shops on the island that actually had CDs; cassettes were in abundance, but due to no copyright laws, they were all faked up copies… The music that made its way to Bahrain was also very popular – we were lucky that there was a decent rock following, so there was also acceptable rock music to get your hands on – but everything we had was still mainstream… I had to wait till I went away on my summer vacation to find out who Ani DiFranco was… walking into a tower records and asking the guy for an Ani Difranco cd… his blank “cannot compute” look at the little man (me) looking for bisexual indie college folk rock was soon replaced with him putting some cds in my hand.. It was there and then that I developed my crush for Ani DiFranco and her music…
Y’see, while my friends were just getting into girls, I was getting into Bisexual girls.. I know I know, perverted at such a young age, I agree, but at least I wasn’t drooling over the latest teeny bopper – I went for the artistic icon.. But it wasn’t just because she was a hottie that dug both men and women.. Ani refused to become a slave to the music industry… She pulled up her shirt and flashed Universal, Emi, Geffen and all those Big record labels that were milking it, her beautiful breasts and then pulled her shirt down and walked away.. She formed Righteous Babe Records, and did her music her way.. In an industry, where the big record labels easily dupe so many musicians to following trends, into signing off their lives, Ani stuck her ground, and that made me love her even more..
As the years piled on, my relationship with Ani blossomed and faltered – new genres of sounds were being incorporated in my library and I wanted to explore. In college I went to see her in concert – she sat there on stage looking into the crowd and poured her heart through the microphone.. She spoke back to us, teased us, laughed with and loved us.. Her sound brought back all those years of playing that tape over and over again.. all those junior high fantasies about a singer songwriter that touched me, in so many ways.. ehhehehh..
Many days have rolled on by since I listened to her music – I don’t know if I flooded my eardrums with so much of her sound that I wanted a change. Or maybe because I had to give up my life as a college student .. no matter what – I’ll always love you Ani.. always..
I rant you risten