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!