Thursday, March 7, 2013

What I Listened to: Nemesisters by Babes in Toyland

I got my hair cut last night and two songs from Babes in Toyland's Nemesisters record came on my hairstylist's Pandora. When I was in middle school, at the beginning of what I like to call my enlightenment, this was one of the few records I had on repeat, with the notable additions of Hole's Live Through This and Veruca Salt's American Thighs, so it was a major blast from the past to hear these songs.

All Images via
After my sushi and cosmos dinner date with Lacey I was eager to put Nemesisters on and listen to it in its entirety on my long drive home only to find that I had a mere two songs on my iPhone. Somewhere in the span of nearly two decades (how has it been that long?) I have managed to lose the rest of the songs. I listened to these two songs on repeat and lamented the lost songs, figuring I'd get over it by the next day. Turns out my yearning could not be quenched, so I promptly ordered a used copy of the CD this morning for $0.99 on Amazon and that is a bonafide steal, my friends. Curiously, I noticed the ratings for this album were pretty low (3.5 stars) for a record that I consider an essential part of my grunge rock education, an early cog in the feminist, riot grrrl awareness I would eventually develop in my later teen years.

Kat Bjelland. Source unknown.
I understand that music is subjective, not just due to one's taste in style, but for the emotional connection people often have with music which is largely dependent on how well it articulates one's personal life experience and the memories thereof. Maybe you can tell by my affinity for this record, but I was a hella angsty teen and this spoke to me on a visceral level. Even listening to it now brings back vivid memories of sitting in my dimly lit or rather dark vampire's den of a bedroom, listening to music, smoking cigarettes, painting, and brooding. This time in my life contributed heavily to the development of my world view as an adult, for which I am grateful. I will always have a soft, fond place in my heart for depressed, arty, emotional, disrespected, and misunderstood teens. When I became an adult and my life became my own to control my taste in music broadened and became much more nuanced, so when I listened to this record on Grooveshark today it was not as good to my older self as it used to be, but there were certainly some familiar gems.

Kat and Courtney. Source unknown.
Kat Bjelland, the singer for Babes in Toyland and later Katastrophy Wife, was dopplegangers* with Courtney Love during their heyday, but where Courtney has become a joke of a trainwreck in recent years, Kat has kind of fallen off the radar. I did find a link to the 2010 Behind the Music episode for Courtney Love and Kat looks like hell, so presumably life has not been good to her in recent years, but I could find very little online about her other than her relatively recent admission that she has battled schizophrenia for years. I have a biography of Babes in Toyland that I got at a used bookstore years ago, you can find it here, and I remember being kind of shocked that such a book even existed because for me, as a 13 year old girl experimenting with fringe music, Babes in Toyland felt a little off the radar. Of course I bought it, but I have yet to read it. Story of my life.

Babes in Toyland: The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band

I added this to my 100 Book list because one of my reading/home organizing goals is to deal with all the books at my house one way or the other and now I am feeling inspired to read it. If I were a believer in fate of could say that by it coming up on Pandora at the hair salon the universe was telling me I needed to start listening to it again and read this book. That sounds silly, doesn't it? I want to curate a thoughtful collection in which I have read every book I own and deliberately chose to keep it, so I guess now I will be dealing with this one. Also, can I just say that the cover artwork is abysmal? I know that mainstream 90s style was about as ridiculous as mainstream 80s style, but come on. Who the hell thought this screamed kinderwhore grunge rock? It is nausea-inducing in, I think, an unintended way.

And a playlist! You're welcome:

*The first time I typed this it came out "gopplegangers." I tried to correct it when editing and changed it to "bopplegangers." It probably would have been best to just leave it that way.

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