‘Book Week Scotland’ might not mean a lot to many people beyond bonnie Caledonia but this campaign to promote reading gives me a nice excuse to write about the myriad connections between my two favourite things: books and music. My first post was about songs inspired by female writers and today I’m going to recommend some of my favourite books about music written by women. Continue reading “Books About Music Written By Women”
The Scottish Book Trust recently published a list of songs which have been inspired by literature, as part of their Book Week celebrations. This list includes many brilliant songs and artists including the obvious ‘Wuthering Heights‘ by Kate Bush to more obscure songs like ‘Bell Jar‘ by The Bangles. Continue reading “Songs Inspired By Female Writers “
In October I committed myself to supporting the work of female artists and expanding my vinyl collection by actually buying some new (and old) music every month. Since I started running this blog I have realised how easy it is to just use streaming services and forget that investing in music is required to keep many artists creating and surviving. Continue reading “November Music Haul”
Earlier this year I bought a book in a charity shop for 25p called ‘The Happiness Project’, which is kind of a self help manual for privileged people with too much time on their hands. Despite the simple writing style I freely admit that THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE. The writer Gretchen Rubin encourages people to start their own blogs, explaining how blogging gave her ‘a new identity, new skills, a new set of colleagues and a new way to connect with people.’ After reading this I felt inspired and started Highway Queens the next week. I had a simple purpose: write about the music I love. Gretchen’s book proves that not every piece of writing has to be high art in order to have value. Continue reading “In Defence of Music Blogging”
January is usually a frozen dead month for live music but in Scotland we are lucky to have a festival filled with fabulous music to keep you warm even on the coldest night. Celtic Connections runs from the 18th January to 4th February in a variety of venues all across Glasgow. Now in its 25th year the festival hosts some of the best roots, folk and traditional music from Scotland and all around the world, with a particularly strong Americana representation (when Jason Isbell played he joked that there was no one left behind in Nashville). Continue reading “Celtic Connections Preview”
In Celtic mythology the shriek of a banshee was the sign of death approaching. Some women even worked as banshees, wailing laments for lost souls for a price. The sound of a woman screaming had power to strike fear, but at the same time it was also a howl of pain which was understood by all.
Researchers into use of language in literature identified that women invariably are described as ‘shrieking’ and ‘screaming’ while men are more likely to be said to be ‘shouting’. Therefore you could argue that screaming is seen by many as an expression of unwanted emotion, as though such outbursts are a sign of weakness or madness.
You’d think then that this would mean women would be known as the best screamers in music. Somehow the music industry bias means even this accolade is skewed in the favour of men. Quite a few publications have run ‘the best screams in music’ lists and women are poorly represented on them all. Paste magazine’s list included zero female screams, Pigeon and Planes had a few but nowhere near 50% and The Independent actually said: ‘Great female screams are quite scarce, it seems.’ That of course is totally wrong and insulting. Women have been screaming on record for a long time and they still are, just listen to the new Bully album.
So in honour of all banshees everywhere and since it’s Halloween here are my five favourite female screaming songs.
Continue reading “Favourite Female Screams”
When I was younger I couldn’t wait until Saturday so I could go to the next town and spend what little money I had on albums and singles. Of course I lived in the middle of nowhere so the next town only had a small Woolworths shop but beggars couldn’t be choosers. I want to tell my 14 year old self one day you will be able to listen to whatever album you want instantly for FREE. I’m sure my head would explode. Yet if I explained how we got here and what we lost on the way I don’t think I would be so overjoyed at the prospect. A system which threatens independent record shops and hurts the artist is not something to celebrate. When I was a kid all I dreamed of was shelves stacked with CDs and vinyl. I have that now but I admittedly buy a lot less, leaving my collection a little frozen in time.
With those concerns in mind, and inspired by the shopping haul posts of other bloggers I am committing myself to getting out to a record shop once a month and buying something by a female artist (to keep with the blog theme). I am also hoping to expand my second hand vinyl collection so I will also show you what treasures I find. Continue reading “October Music Haul”
Released in 1976 Tammy Wynette’s fifteenth album ‘Til I Can Make It On My Own’ includes some of her best vocal performances (the title track was Tammy’s personal favourite song to sing) but also features the overlooked gem The World’s Most Broken Heart, a song whose lyrics now seem to be a concise commentary on her own life and method acting singing style. Continue reading “Presenting Tammy Wynette: The World’s Most Broken Heart”
This weekend the lineup for the Country to Country Festival 2018 was announced and the acts playing include Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Margo Price, Kelsea Ballerini and other fabulous females. Yes, you read that right – a music festival with actual female representation on the bill. Let’s not underplay how significant it is that all three nights of C2C will end with a woman on the stage – there is no other major three day British musical festival this year where women are represented in all the headline acts (in fact when I wrote about this earlier in the year few even had ONE female headliner). C2C has not just broken the mould for women they’ve smashed the glass ceiling right through. So you’d think the country music world and their fans would be delighted, celebrating this moment of equality and revolution. Alas, as ever, the negative online response is depressingly familiar. Continue reading “Why Kacey Musgraves is a Perfect Headliner for C2C’s Fabulous Festival of Female Talent”