Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gender Benders: Wilder Than Her

Dar Williams: Wilder Than Her

[purchase] out of print EP - 1997

Dar Williams: When I Was a Boy


So... I'm still at my mom's... and my sister took pity on my poor folk-deprived soul and brought me a totebag of OKOM (Our Kind of Music) CDs to keep me company while I'm here - I bought a mini-boombox for the kitchen and I'm finally getting my long-overdue music fix (just hit a vein, baby!)...

A song I'd been planning to post for this week anyway was on a mix I'd made for her years ago - meant to be. In this case, I heard Dar's cover years before I heard Fred Eaglesmith's original... and I always loved that she didn't change the gender - what seems at first to be a "who's wilder than who" competition soon segues to the narrator's (no matter the gender) relief that She brings much-needed balance and peace to their life together...

She takes the fire
And turns it down low
She takes the night
And makes it not so cold
She takes the distance
And breaks it into miles
She makes my life
just a little less wild

Dar's song When I Was a Boy is, to me, the ultimate gender bender - Dar says:

"The feminists are going to say, "Why couldn't you be that way when you were a girl?" But I wasn't like a boy, I was a boy. So there was grit to stick to that strong line. I was describing how I was a boy, and then I was trying to decide how to end the song. I thought the song was going to be a whole thing about women in the world, but I realized it's just not a feminist song. It's not a song about women, it's a song about children. So that's why the ending is "when I was a girl." And that's what made all the difference. Because if it was turning into a feminist manifesto, it would have been really heavy. It would have been like that rib that they put on the car in the Flintstones, and the whole car falls over! It would have been that rib.

I think there is a lot of empathy between men and women, and they want to share, but they get polarized by these debates. I didn't want to feel that I was arguing against men, especially since men get shafted so much by their roles. Actually a lot of women that I speak to who would have been the separatists, they feel sorry for men. They don't feel like men are the enemy, they feel like men are the victims of these roles."

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