I dropped by Little Miss Attila’s this morning and I knew better than to click on her YouTube videos of Janis Joplin singing, “Piece of My Heart,” but I did it anyway and was cast back to my college days in Ann Arbor and the memories of reading a memoir by her lesbian lover and crying myself sick over Joplin’s death, which then was very recent.
But this also made me remember that these were the beginning years of the gay liberation movement — this month is the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village — and they were an exciting and dangerous time for lesbians and gays. One of the things that helped and heartened us the most were our troubadours — troubadeuses? — Cris Williamson and Meg Christian and the lesbian recording company Olivia. Another time I will tell you about getting to sit just a few feet away from Meg Christian when she sang at the Michigan League in the 1970’s.
I didn’t get to see Cris Williamson in concert until the early 1980’s and I started going to her concerts while I was still an ex-lesbian gaining the understanding I needed before being able to assert my integrity and be whole and open and lesbian again — because it takes an enormous amount of strength and courage and understanding to do that.
You don’t have to be a lesbian to love Cris Williamson’s music, which is open-hearted, joyful, kind and brave. Listen to her “Song of the Soul” and learn to sing it yourself, for the times when you are so happy you must burst into song, or the times when you are sad and must sing to let the tears flood out to clear the space for your faith and hope and joy:
“Song of the Soul” is originally from Williamson’s first album, The Changer and the Changed. That album, and Meg Christian’s first album, I Know You Know, were the two ground-breaking albums of lesbian music. (They did a 45 rpm record before these albums, which I have, with Cris on one side singing, “If It Weren’t for the Music,” and Meg on the other singing, “Lady.” Meg’s song does not appear on any of her albums and Cris’s song from the 45 only appears on her 1991 album, “Live in Concert.” For more info, see the Olivia Records Discography here.)
I also highly recommend going to Cris’s site, which I just found, and listening to — and buying — her absolutely luminous song, “Lullabye,” which I used to sing to Margaret, my late life partner.
Now, it is a gorgeous, sunny day in Maryland, and I am going to plant some catnip, marigolds and zinnias. Beauregard and his brother Remington are going to help me. Ivan has gotten out, too, and is very tickled with himself. I think he was after the catnip plants because he was rolling around with one of the pots. He is very shy and hard to catch, so luring him back inside may be tricky, especially since the catnip ratio inside/outside definitely is larger outside. While we are outside, my father will watch the news and Sophia will be keeping an eye on the goldfinches at the feeder in the back yard from the back of the sofa in the den.
This afternoon I will play my bassoon with the Bel Air Community Band at the town band shell for the free summer concert series. It is the perfect day for an outdoor concert in a small town and a wonderful way to celebrate Flag Day. My father will enjoy the concert from a chair I will set up for him under the trees. God bless America, land that I love.
Later this evening I will work on my “How to Get David Letterman Fired” kit. You can’t be lesbian or gay without learning you HAVE to beat the bullies, so Sebastian and I will be showing you exactly how it is done.
Word to the wise: do not abuse anyone teh gays and lesbians love. Sebastian and I love Sarah Palin. David Letterman thinks rape jokes about her daughters are funny. We disagree. We think this is a firing offense. We know you have to beat the bullies or they will just keep making your life a hell. And our tenacity of purpose knows no bounds.