Lesbian Thumb Ring. 4 NON-BLONDES-Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (Interscope Records 1992)

My good friend Elizabeth loves to remind me about how, when I first came out of the closet, I made her go with me down to Melrose to buy a thumb ring. In my mind, a real dyke always donned a thick, plain silver band on their opposable digit. Not yet comfortable in my new skin, I didn’t want to adorn my neck with rainbow freedom rings on a ball chain–THE symbol of gay in the 90’s. So instead, in hopes of making myself known to the cute waitress at the French Market Place, I opted for what I thought to be an obvious statement of my sexuality and wore it proudly upon my thumb.

4 Non Blondes Bigger, Better, Faster, More moved me from a thumb ring to a ball chain. To me this album felt familiar yet at the same time crackled with a new kind of energy. Looking back at my first coming of age in high school, the soundtrack of that time was not the 80’s pop most of my peers were listening to on the radio, but instead was the music of Aerosmith, Steve Miller and Janis Joplin on cassette. I also loved Cyndi Lauper, The Motels and Yaz. But what my friends and I lived and breathed, was 60’s and 70’s rock. Therefore, in my second coming of age, the gay one, the recognizable riffs driving the gutsy, blues-tinged rock of Bigger, Better, Faster, More coupled with the gayness of Linda Perry made my transition into faggotry something that felt recognizable and right, yet also charged and uncharted.

While the music of 4 Non Blondes touched my classic rock heart, the band’s big throated lead singer Linda Perry spoke to my vagina. KD Lang and Melissa Etheridge may have helped me place one hand on the closet doorknob, but considering my dad also enjoyed their music, they didn’t manage to turn and open it like Linda Perry did. Her image fit my ideal at the time– a scruffy, nose-ring and tattooed troubadour that came to my window howling like a tomcat, beckoning me to meet her at the bar. She was the secret admirer I longed to have, who slipped scraps of bad poetry under my door and left roses on my windshield.

But that was then, and this is now. My interest in Linda Perry slowly waned as my tastes changed and she got absorbed into the mainstream like other iconic Lesbian Culture signifiers such as knit ski caps, Beth Ditto and what is now known as the Skrillex haircut. So listening to Bigger, Better, Faster, More now, what does this album sound like to me twenty years later?  I expected it to sound dated. I thought for sure the thin attempt at being political and bar-band style of blues-rock would prompt me to hit the eject button pretty quick. But wouldn’t you know, two listens in on a drive up to Santa Barbara and I realized that it miraculously stood the test of time. Although I doubt I will be playing it regularly and it won’t make its way into my Itunes, I think it remains a pretty damn good rocking CD.

Two thumb rings up!

My Life in Binders.

My identity is slowly being erased from the physical landscape of my house. I am taking my CD’s off of the shelves that line the walls of our dining area and putting them in plastic inserts to be stored in three-ring binders. Now, a new visitor to our home will walk in and have no idea that I am a music person. The alters constructed to display the essential, beautiful and overwhelming force that music is in my life, will be packed away and out of sight.

The last time I remember doing this was with my vinyl collection, and it was to make room for my CD’s. My music library has followed me around over the past twenty-five years, making each new move a bit more daunting because of the constant growth of my collection. But no matter where I landed, it was always placed out on display like artwork.

In the digital age, “things” like CD’s and records seem obsolete and unnecessary. But my feeling is that despite all the la-de-da bumper stickers and inspirational calendar pages telling us in cute little quotes how “things” are not what are important in life, I think things are immensely important. Things are what we use to speak to one another, how we know if someone is in our tribe. Things are the symbols we assemble to let people know what the hell is going on inside our heads. The first move I make when I visit a person for the first time, is towards towards their CD collection and bookshelves. Dogs sniff asses, I sniff music and book collections. If the smell intrigues me, you’re in.

So my current heartbreak comes in that it is time to put these artifacts of my life, my music collection, out of sight. Of course this does make more room for bookshelves.

Now, to what this blog is all about. In the process of going through all my CD’s, some for the first time in ten years, I have had the honor of cradling each one in my hand for a moment as I slip them into their new homes. This has brought back lots of memories of times past. It is amazing how music, or even just an album cover can bring you right back to a particular time in your life. And there have been many surprises as well, such as where did this Blues Traveler CD come from and why do I have so many Indigo Girls albums?

With all this emotional attachment whirling around, I have decided that I am going to “review” each and every CD in my collection, so the artifacts of my life are still on display somewhere, even if just in the virtual world. Here we go…