Monday, October 7, 2013

The Indigo Girls Interviewed

Yesterday I listened to the NPR show, On Being.  What a great show!  The guests were the Indigo Girls, and they talked about the intersections of music, gender, creativity, sexual orientation, and spirituality.  Go here to listen, to read the transcripts, or to find other resources.

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

Emily Saliers on religion:  "I think that, um, I have such a deep connection to the music that I grew up with in church, the hymns, the sound of the organ, and also, like, because we weren't raised in really, like, um, any kind of church that made us feel bad. It was kind of thoughtful, like, the sermon was related to the readings and it was all — and there was a season that was based on the Jewish calendar that was recognized as based on the Jewish calendar, um, which I always appreciated.

And so I like — and with my dad and the people that I grew up with, the theologians, they thoughtfully organized liturgy. Like they put thought into constructing it so that people might get the most out of it. So I appreciate that like writing a good paper or something, I guess. If you construct it with care, it's bound to be more effective to the reader or the receiver. So I grew up with that.

I like that part of thought and organization and structure in religion, but for me, you know, I have to say that no matter what it's called and I'll call it God, but to me, it's a great benevolent spirit that's much wiser than any of us, my belief, that is involved in the formation of things, the change of things, the evolution of things.

Is my whole — my life is in that spirit's hands. That's what I believe. So it's not — it ain't me running things, but that's when language and imagery gets in the way. I don't believe in a puppet god or puppet master god or any of that stuff. So I can't even describe it. It's loving, it's powerful, it's wise, it's kind. It's not a mother or a father. It's just this thing that I trust, because this thing has shown me time and time again its wisdom. I have my feeble human perception of what wisdom is, but I'm gonna go with that."

Amy Ray on gender in religion and rock music:  "But, um, I think, I think as queer people, we also have this like built-in translator sometimes. And I can sit and listen to most sermons, not all of them, but a lot of them, and inside I'm changing the language in my head as I'm going. I don't even notice it. And I'm getting something out of it and I'm not sitting there going, ‘It's a patriarchy, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it,’ you know, because I'm just so used to, from such a small age, having to do that to feel OK about myself, to be honest with you.

And the same goes for music. You know, we grew up with rock and roll being a white guy's thing and sex, drugs and rock and roll and it was really romantic and we had to change all the lyrics in our heads and the imagery and believe that it was OK to be a woman and play music. You know, I never — like, when I — when I'm in a graceful moment, I don't even think about it."

Emily Saliers on lesbian marriage:  "We're getting married. My partner's Canadian. We're getting married by a Justice of the Peace because we're afraid they're gonna repeal the laws before we get a chance to like — so we're gonna hurry up and get married and then we're gonna have a ceremony. So like queer people they have to — you can't do it the way you dream about it really, you know. We had the kid first and then it doesn't matter, I mean, how straight people do it. It's fine, but we haven't had the same privileges of, you know, chronology."

Emily Saliers on the physicality of music:  "One is that music is, um, it's physical, it's got, you know, your heartbeat, it's got rhythms, it's got space, it's a physiological reality along with a mystical reality. So it's metaphysical. There's not many things in life you can point to and go that's metaphysical, but music is and it's just like Amy was talking about protest songs and how, you know, there have been protest songs that have bolstered the spirits, galvanized people in the midst of a very painful, but positive movement, social change movement. And so, it's such a powerful, powerful tool. So for me, it's been almost everything in the way I've been shaped."

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