American Writer, Photographer, and Website Designer. Former career Fire and EMS Lieutenant. She/Her/Lesbian.

Lyrics That Influenced A Generation


Much of my writing was influenced by the song lyrics I grew up listening to as a child.  The music artists from the 1990’s era were especially influential, such as Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Toad The Wet Sprocket, Counting Crows, and Sarah McLachlan.  They are lyrics that influenced a generation, and those which inspired me creatively. While a handful of the individual song titles eventually became titles for my writing and photography, creativity in and of itself is nothing more than a mashup of the experiences in ones life.  It is the culmination of thoughts, experiences, conversations, and ideas.

Recently, Amelia and I were discussing the band R.E.M., and how it would be unprecedented if the band reunited and went on tour, if only for a handful of shows, and if it came to be, my childhood dream of seeing them live in concert might come to fruition. Unfortunately, the band has made it very clear that they are not getting back together, and as Amelia so eloquently surmised, “there is more to life than going on tour.”

It seems that in popular parlance we gravitate towards the backstories of celebrities, casting aside any acknowledgement of their genius or talent, as is the case of R.E.M.’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, who revealed in 1994 that he was gay. The famous poet and writer Allen Ginsberg, a family friend, whom mentored me as a child, although revered for his talent and influence, there was always a focus on the fact that he too was gay.

Thomas Slatin, Dinosaur Collection, 1980’s self-portrait, New York City.

Today I thought about my own life, and how society seems to gravitate towards the fact that I am a lesbian, which is a neat and tidy label for my sexuality. I’m curious to know what other people think, especially how, despite all that one has accomplished in life, the only thing that seems to matter in modern society is ones sexuality. One day, I might become the most influential writer, and/or photographer, a luminary of sorts, and for whatever reason, the fact that I am a lesbian is what would inevitably be brought up for discussion in interviews. Moreover, I don’t claim modern religion, but if I was forced to identify, I would have to say that I identify simply as Pagan.

My relationship with Amelia has been one of true love; Amelia is my best friend, my lover, my muse, and my companion. We are always together, never tiring of our almost constant presence. Not only have I learned about who Amelia is as a person, but she has helped me learn who I am as well, and collectively, we have both grown.

This year, I plan to write, to photograph, to create, and to dream, and none of this would ever have come to be part of my plans without the unconditional love, support, and encouragement of my wife, Amelia.

Colophon
This article was originally inspired by a discussion about brilliant lyrics to the song Country Feedback by Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

Asides
Confessions_of_a_MICHAEL_STIPE | Pop Songs 07-08 / I’ll write about every R.E.M. song, eventually. | R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe says he’s “proud” he was always open about his sexuality | R.E.M. – Country Feedback Lyrics | Maybe Someday I Will Understand Why | Michael Stipe | The Allen Ginsberg Project | Only The Moon Understands The Beauty Of Love | Star Gazing | Maybe | A Little Ghost For The Offering | How to Find Writing Inspiration and Motivation


9 responses to “Lyrics That Influenced A Generation”

  1. There are some people out there who do not care. No offense to the LBGTQ+ community in any way, but if you are a talented musician, author, dancer, actor, whatever, I do not care about your sexual orientation and would never even think to ask. I only care about your talent.

    But there is a flip-side to your post as well. In many cases (not so much in the 90’s, but more now), people are open about who they are. They don’t become famous first. They just are. And they are the ones that ensure the conversation is about that as they believe representation is bigger than the skill they possess. It is a fine line, and one that every individual must choose to walk in their own way.

    It depends on how they truly identify. Some people identify as authors who can also be classified as part of the community (an author who is lesbian), others find their standing in the community to be more integral to their identity and openly refer to themselves as their standing in the community first (a lesbian author).

    The issue is, honestly, that the way you identify in the beginning can influence your outcomes significantly, which is completely unfair. But it is the way of the world, unfortunately. It’s truly starting to change, but there are still pockets. If you identify as an author first, you can become the biggest thing since slice bread (if the talent is there), but you will lose some readers when you “come out” (still hate that saying). But then again, you may gain more as the community embraces you. If you start as a “lesbian author” first, your audience will be the community first and your skill as an author will bleed out into the general population because of the talent, but you will never get the ones who won’t want to read it.

    But no matter what a person chooses, it doesn’t matter to many. I am one of them. A good book is a good book. An amazing author is an amazing author. That’s it. And there are many bibliophiles like me who simply won’t care. It’s not about the person’s identity – that’s just part of the author. It’s their body of work which is why I even know their name.

    I think that the question has been so prevalent (and continues to be so) for many reasons, but I also think that during our lifetimes it will die out. Originally, it was asked to pigeonhole or even destroy people. Now it is asked because it is considered “of interest” and also because many people are still confused about so many aspects of the new identifiers. In many cases, I truly don’t think the interviewer is asking just to be creepy or nosey, but so that people who do want to read the books can have information that will help them avoid confusion, and a way of education. Soon, the orientations (gender, sexual, romantic, etc) will no longer be confusing and these questions unnecessary. We are already getting to the point where there are entire generations who meet a person who legitimately meets all the criteria of a cis hetero individual and their brain denotes them automatically into male or female and the person simply states that their identity is “they/them”. Yes, many heads nearly explode, but at the same time, even those people can understand and respect that statement. They will mess it up, inevitably (I know many who find they/them to be difficult pronouns to use), but they aren’t doing it to be hurtful, they accept the person as they introduced themselves. They are merely working around their own limitations in at honest way to get it right.

    Off the top of my head, I can give 1,000 examples of people who are miserable haters with an inability to accept (and even vitriolic hatred) for anyone that doesn’t fall into their box. On the flip side, I can name just as many who have made lucrative careers and have stepped out into the light and announced their status in the community and the fanfare was so minimal it was almost as if it were never said. Because it didn’t matter. The people who loved them still loved them. And I can point to box office sales who’ve confirm that it doesn’t matter at all how a person identifies in any way, millions of people simply do not care and will go and see whatever it is they’re in without a second thought.

    The only thing any person in the public eye needs to focus on (imho) is being the best they can be at whatever they are doing. Their identity is a major part of who they are, and they can announce or not announce it as they see fit. The book/movie/music has to be good. If it’s not, it doesn’t matter if you are the perfect specimen for the Bible Belt, if you’re not good, no one will pay attention. If you are that good, no one will care about your identity because you are the author, not the character. You are the creator of a world they love, but not of it. The femme Voldemort is a perfect example. As a person she is a disgusting waste of human flesh and bone. I even know die-hard conservatives who are against the LBGTQ+ Community who think that she should be thrown off of every public platform for spewing her hatred (same people that think Trump should be permitted to access these same platforms!) But they LOVE Harry Potter. We no longer live in a time where the reaction to someone being part of the community leads to mass book burning or whatever. We are in a time where people can separate the art from the artist. They can actually loathe everything about the artist because they don’t conform to their world view but love the art and be able to handle it.

    People are who they are. You are perfect just the way you are. Reach foe your dreams and don’t let the bigotry and hatred and small minds (of the past or present) ever keep you down again. You deserve to be your authentic self and be happy doing it.

    Amy Schneider (sp?) is currently living her dream on Jeopardy. Yes, at first, headlines referenced trans as I think she was the first trans contestant. Now she’s surpassed a million dollars as winnings, and now every headline I see says “first woman”. The world is changing, and we get front row seats.

    Be who you want to be. Who you are. People will love you forever that, they already do. There will be detractors, but if you were the perfect cis straight white man, there would still be detractors. You know that first hand. Some people will never be happy. So the only person that needs to be happy is you.

    And that’s my 2¢

    • Hey Marla! Wow, just wow! Thank you for your amazing comment! I will post my thoughts accordingly…

      No offense to the LBGTQ+ community in any way, but if you are a talented musician, author, dancer, actor, whatever, I do not care about your sexual orientation and would never even think to ask. I only care about your talent…

      I completely agree with you. I do not care about people and their sexual orientation, gender, etc. If someone has a talent, then that’s the only thing I truly care about. Everything else, to me, is irrelevant.

      But there is a flip-side to your post as well. In many cases (not so much in the 90’s, but more now), people are open about who they are. They don’t become famous first…

      My wife and I have been 100% completely open and honest about who we are, and always have been. There is absolutely nothing wrong with us being a same-sex lesbian couple. We don’t advertise it, but if someone asks, we will absolutely confirm this for them.

      It depends on how they truly identify…

      Also agree. I identify as a female and as a lesbian, though as of yet, I haven’t mentioned this explicitly in my published books, though it’s pretty obvious. And if someone knows me personally, they would already know, as I’m not even remotely secretive about it.

      The issue is, honestly, that the way you identify in the beginning can influence your outcomes significantly, which is completely unfair. But it is the way of the world, unfortunately. It’s truly starting to change, but there are still pockets…

      I’m reminded me of when I went to college (in West Virginia), which was my parents choice, not mine. In my life, I have lost a handful of people who I thought were my friends when I married Amelia. I also had a few family members who didn’t understand it; they accepted it, though they questioned it at first. I later revealed on my blog that I am genetically intersex. Those friends who stayed in my life have been absolutely wonderful and supportive, way more than a girl like me could ever have asked for.

      I think that the question has been so prevalent (and continues to be so) for many reasons, but I also think that during our lifetimes it will die out. Originally, it was asked to pigeonhole or even destroy people. Now it is asked because it is considered “of interest” and also because many people are still confused about so many aspects of the new identifiers. … We are already getting to the point where there are entire generations who meet a person who legitimately meets all the criteria of a cis hetero individual and their brain denotes them automatically into male or female and the person simply states that their identity is “they/them”. Yes, many heads nearly explode, but at the same time, even those people can understand and respect that statement…

      For the record, my pronouns are She/Her/Hers, but I totally respect and understand the reasons why someone would identify as something else, including They/Them/Theirs. It was an adjustment for my family to start using female pronouns for me, whereas my friends who have known me my entire life were already aware that I have identified as female since the beginning of time.

      Off the top of my head, I can give 1,000 examples of people who are miserable haters with an inability to accept (and even vitriolic hatred) for anyone that doesn’t fall into their box. On the flip side, I can name just as many who have made lucrative careers and have stepped out into the light and announced their status in the community and the fanfare was so minimal it was almost as if it were never said. Because it didn’t matter…

      This is a product of social conditioning. A persons gender, even if it isn’t congruent with their physical or biological sex should be respected and accepted. These things do not matter to me. At all.

      The only thing any person in the public eye needs to focus on ([in my honest opinion]) is being the best they can be at whatever they are doing. Their identity is a major part of who they are, and they can announce or not announce it as they see fit. The book/movie/music has to be good.

      Again, I completely agree with this statement!

      People are who they are. You are perfect just the way you are. Reach foe your dreams and don’t let the bigotry and hatred and small minds (of the past or present) ever keep you down again. You deserve to be your authentic self and be happy doing it.

      Thank you, Marla! I sincerely appreciate it! You are amazing!

      Amy Schneider (sp?) is currently living her dream on Jeopardy. Yes, at first, headlines referenced trans as I think she was the first trans contestant. Now she’s surpassed a million dollars as winnings, and now every headline I see says “first woman”. The world is changing, and we get front row seats.

      Amy is an inspiration to the generally marginalized LBGTQ+ community, and proof that ones intellectual capacity has absolutely nothing to do with how one identifies. For many years, the medical community classified intersex people such as myself, as having intellectual delays and below average intelligence, which is based on bias, not evidence. When I had my IQ tested in grade school, it was measured at 142, in college, it was measured at 178.

      Be who you want to be. Who you are. People will love you forever that, they already do.

      Thank you, Marla! I am who I am, and how I identify is congruent with my biology, despite the opinions of detractors. 🙂

  2. I grew up with the Beatles, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash. My Dad LOVES that era, but most of my family love them too. Gerry and the Pacemakers. You know, no wonder my Dad is so depressed. They’re not really “happy” artists, lol … Maybe Elvis, lol.

  3. Some really excellent thinking, both here and in the comments. Personally, I think we’re still in a time when the sexual identities etc. of LGBTQ+ people are important in order to normalize different sexual orientations in society. The more people realize that not everyone is straight, and that those non-straight people are just as happy and just like everyone else, the better things become for all of us, especially kids who can see different types of role models. I hope that makes sense!
    mydangblog recently posted..Smoke And MirrorsMy Profile

    • It totally does! We are starting to see a critical turning point in modern society, where people are beginning to see others for who they are as people, not simply as labels.

  4. I started to get into music in the late 90’s. I love how every genre in those days was considered pop music by the end of the decade. Artists blended into multiple genres: pop punk, pop country, pop rock, rap rock. It was all so catchy and fun. A few years ago, I backtracked and really got into the early 90’s bands that you mentioned above. They were darker and gritter, but the songwriting was impeccable. I can see how it would influence the creativity of its listeners. I know that alternative rock definitely influenced some of the bad poetry I wrote in college.

    Laura recently posted..Chocolate Bar Taste Test with a Picky EaterMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: