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Slow Songs For Fast Hearts: Cinderella's Big Score by Maria Raha


Cinderella's Big Score by Maria Raha

I read this book a while ago now, but I keep referring back to it. I have to say it’s one of the best books I’ve read on music, for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious one is that it’s about women of the punk and indie underground music scene, so theme-wise, it’s pretty much perfect. But it’s also a very well put together book.

Maria Raha’s writing is engaging and to the point. Her background is in journalism – she’s written for Bitch and Vibe magazine, and this book has that same magazine style writing, i.e you want to devour the whole thing in one go.

Divided into clear parts: America in the 70s, Britain in the 70s, and then the 80s, the 90s, the late 90s-early 2000s, there isn’t much in the way of crossover and interaction between the bands, but it’s a nice, clearcut way to highlight specific bands and discuss them indepth.

She makes clear from the outset that obviously there are bands important to these various eras that aren’t included, and that her selection was based on bands which changed her life, which is an acknowledgement certain other overblown music “bibles” could really do with taking on board, and it also gives this book a personal touch, like she’s made us a mixtape for the soundtrack of her life.

Each section opens with an overview of the era: the kinds of bands people were going to see at the time, the politics that were going on, and then she goes on to focus on 5-8 different bands or female musicians. Maria writes from an overtly feminist perspective, not shying away from disussing the fact that artists such as Chrissie Hynde and PJ Harvey have actively tried to distance themselves from that label.

The bands she covers range from the more mainstream (eg. Chrissie Hynde), to the women in Crass and the Fastbacks, the riot grrrls, Erase Errata. Near the back is a comprehensive discography of all the bands, and there are some black and white photos in the middle.

Despite the reservations many people have about “women in rock” books (and given the amount of crappy stuff written about female muscians, and the number of times Sleater-Kinney have been asked “what’s it like being a woman in rock?”, I can understand why), Cinderella’s Big Score is different. It’s not about ghettoising women’s music or even categorising it as women’s music particularly. Instead, this book is written as a challenge to an already marginalised scene, and it is powerful because it is unafraid to do that – to pop the bubble of those boys who think they are so opposed to the mainstream cos they love fugazi or the stooges or joy division or whatever and remind everyone that this is what else was/is going on in that same scene.

I particularly like this from her introduction:

>“It feels a bit traitorous to criticize a community in which I have invested so much. Yet harder still is knowing in the grand scheme of things, this scene, for me and for a lot of other people, is still as good as it gets. It succeeds by providing room for people to grow and to experience art not intentionally marketed as product. Whether female, a person of colour, a trans, gay, lesbian or bi individual, a drug addict or drunk, a good artist, a bad writer, a weekend warrior, a former Catholic school girl, a frat boy, a suburbanite, a zine editor (or one whose music is bemoaned by zine editors), an activist, a vegan, a pacifist, poor, rich, or a hardcore music nerd, each of us has felt constrained by indie rock’s boundaries and obstacles, machismo or homophobia, self-righteousness or apathy, yet there is something about this community and the culture it has produced that still makes us feel free.

Those of us who criticize it from the inside have been in the uncomfortable position of loving music and art that makes us, at times, feel marginalised, Yet it’s still what we most closely identify with, the art we are captured by, the music that possesses us. And that’s why it’s so important to hold it accountable. Indie rock is still too vital for too many outcasts to allow it to become mired in its own prejudices, spoiled by its own success, powerless to critique our society, or unable to hold the passion of its devotees.”<

Sound familiar?

You can read this book in the Cherry Bomb Comix reading library. You can buy it from there too.
41 New North Road, Eden Terrace, Auckland
Open: Wed, Thurs, Fri 11-6, Sat 11-4

Posted May 16, 06:24 pm | By Melissa |
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