gillian anderson really is the gift that keeps on giving. not only did she give us a feminist manifesto, but an accompanying playlist, as well. i love her taste in music (see also: soundtrack to my life), and this soundtrack just further proves that she has kick-ass taste. and this is all with a feminist/self-empowerment slant. add this to your gratitude list, ladies.
and read we, it will change your life, for real.
here’s my take on gillian and jennifer’s playlist and my own list follows:
we: soundtrack for we women
- “holy road” by lizzie west (holy road: freedom songs)– at first listen i thought this was super granola and hippie dippie, but then found myself humming the chorus later on.
- “talkin’ bout a revolution” by tracy chapman (tracy chapman)– known for her political activism, a track by chapman is a natural choice for this list. chapman’s second single was released in 1988, but it is still relevant.
- “days” by kristy maccoll (kite)– although i prefer the original version by the kinks, this cover is peaceful and serene. this whole playlist is comprised of female artists, so i think it is rad that this was chosen, because the message fits the book—the importance of being grateful.
- “hand in my pocket” by alanis morrisette (jagged little pill)– whoa, throwback to the 90s. this is such a great choice. it’s all about being open and accepting. “no one’s got it figured out just yet.”
- “oh babe, it ain’t no lie” by elizabeth cotton (freight train and other north carolina folk songs)– man, the honesty in this woman’s voice is amazing. her most famous song, “freight train” (which she wrote when she was 11) is equally as forthright. elizabeth cotton isn’t going to sugarcoat anything for ya!
- “lost in my mind” by ibeyi (ibeyi)– i love their voices so much! i get chills. it kinda reminds me of the vocals of portishead. in the acceptance principle, the book talks about feeling rather than thinking, and this song speaks to that.
- “lionhearted” by billie marten (writing of blues and yellows)– i love everything about this song. it’s so chill, but so deep, too.
- “konfyt” by abi ocia (konfyt – single)– ocia had this to say about “konfyt” and it fits so well with the we manifesto: “i was writing from a place of hindsight, in which past experiences are always 20:20, clear enough to talk openly and honestly about. in the process of being vulnerable with myself, i wanted ‘konfyt’ to also give its listeners the space to do the same—to be able to look back on the familial with a sense of warmth, and to look back on grief with a sense of acceptance.” also this: “we all have hiding places that are ‘unfamiliar’ to those around us, where the ‘darkness’ and ‘light’ of our own selves tirelessly battle, and I hope ‘konfyt’ can be a reminder of home in those moments.” (from clash magazine)
- “patience (freestyle)” by ray BLK (patience (freestyle) – single)– her first album, havisham, is based on dicken’s miss havisham from great expectations, so that’s fucking awesome.
- “youth” by daughter (wild youth)– one of my favorites on this list. great sound and lyrics.
’cause most of our feelings, they are dead and they are gone
we’re setting fire to our insides for fun
setting fire to our insides for fun
to distract our hearts from ever missing them
i came across this internet interpretation: “she is painting an image of her generation—young people who have no clue where to go and how to live life.” that’s exactly why the we manifesto is important.
- “all i want” by joni mitchell (blue)– joni mitchell just belongs on this list. this song is an excellent pick from her extensive library.
this lyric reminds me of the message of the humility principle:
do you see, do you see, do you see how you hurt me baby
so i hurt you, too
then we both get so blue
- “all this and heaven, too” by florence + the machine (ceremonials)– a lot of florence + the machine songs would be fitting, but i think this is the best selection. we is about trying to understand ourselves, and this song beautifully describes that struggle.
- “down to zero” by joan armatrading (track record)– armatrading was on gillian’s life playlist with “save me.” soulful voice and encouraging lyrics.
- “i’ll stand by you” by the pretenders (last of the independents)– another obvious, but more than welcome track.
- “divine” by laura marling (short movie)–
now forget what you’re owed
that you’re tired, time’s getting on
so lay down your load
- “rejoice” julien baker (sprained ankle)– to me this song sounds like someone dealing with depression. and holy bejeezus, the way she belts out the last stanza—gut-wrenching.
- “run the world (girls)” by beyoncé (4)– obvs.
- “bloody mother fucking asshole” by martha wainright (martha wainright)– duh.
- “my silver lining” by first aid kit (stay gold)– if i had to name a favorite on this playlist, this might be it. their voices, the melody, the lyrics, gah! amazeballs! (or ‘amazetits!’ as a friend of mine says; it keeps with the feminist theme.)
- “remedy” by adele (25)– you can’t go wrong with adele.
these lyrics fit with the we mood:
i remember all of the things that i thought i wanted to be
so desperate to find a way out of my world and finally breathe
right before my eyes i saw, my heart it came to life
this ain’t easy, it’s not meant to be
every story has its scars
- “bird set free” by sia (this is acting)– this song gives me goosebumps—the melody, her voice, the message—it’s all so moving.
but there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide
we hold on so tight, we cannot deny
eats us alive, oh it eats us alive, oh
- “keeping your head up” by birdy (beautiful lies)– an uplifting, supportive song.
- “beautiful” by carole king (tapestry)– i can’t contain my smile (and sometimes tears of happiness) when this song plays. god bless, carole king. “you’ve got to wake up every morning and show the world all the love in your heart.” yes, do that. please, everyone, do that.
- “superwoman” by alicia keys (as i am)– keys told mtv, “i love the diversity of it all and how it says, ‘no matter who we are or what we’re going through, we all are superwomen.'” she added, “it’s going to be a pretty incredible journey. it’s one of my favorite songs off of the album, and it’s just very inspirational, because i wrote it when i really needed to hear some words that said to me that; even when you’re not perfect, and you’re kind of out of it, and you’re off, and you’re feeling like a mess, you’re still a superwoman. the song, every time i sing it, makes me feel inspired to be however i am that day.”
how beautiful is that? it’s similar to gillian’s words of advice to herself and all of us, “i am enough and i do enough, and however that transpires today is exactly how it needs to be.”
- “angel” by sarah mclachlan and emmylou harris (rarities, b-sides, and other stuff, vol. 2)– this song was on the city of angels soundtrack, which i listened to when i was younger. a lot. this is a lovely version as a duet with emmylou harris.
- “beautiful thing” by grace vanderwaal (perfectly imperfect)– i remember seeing her sing “i don’t know my name” for america’s got talent and being totally blown away—not just by her talent, but the maturity and depth of the lyrics. i love that song so much.
- “the horses” by rickie lee jones (naked songs – live and acoustic)– every principle has a section on how to apply it to the world at large. this lyric makes me think of that:
i hear all the people of the world
in one bird’s lonely cry
see them trying every way they know how
to make their spirit fly
- “good to love” by FKA twigs (good to love – single)– an electronic pop ballad with a 90s R&B feel.
it’s good to love
i’ve got a right to give
so good to love, so good to love
but when you give yourself away
it always hurts too much
so you pray to get it back
only god can give you that
- “respect” by aretha franklin (i never loved a man the way i love you)– one of the original feminist anthems.
- “we rise” by rhiannon giddens (we rise)– perfect to listen to while making your protest signs, or on your way to a march, or really any time you need some empowering music.
- “feeling good” by nina simone (four women: the nina simone phillips recordings)– i’ve loved this song ever since it was used for a six feet under promo. it is such a perfect song to end this playlist on. it definitely encompasses the feeling you (hopefully) have after reading the book: freedom.
- “green light” by lorde (melodrama)– the narrator of the song, lorde explains, “is that drunk girl at the party dancing around, crying about her ex-boyfriend, who everyone thinks is a mess. that’s her tonight, and tomorrow she starts to rebuild.” (from spin magazine)
- “head underwater” by jenny lewis (the voyager)– i will try to put jenny lewis and/or rilo kiley on every playlist for the rest of my life, tbh. but, it’s not just to include my favorite artist for shits and giggles, a lot of her songs and tracks from rilo kiley fit this theme.
there’s a little bit of magic
everybody has it
there’s a little bit of sand left in the hourglass
there’s a little bit of magic
everybody has it
there’s a little bit of fight left in the end
i put my head underwater baby
i held my breath until it passed
crossed my fingers and concentrated
i closed my eyes and i was free at last
- “trouble” by kristin hersh (sunny border blue)– this was an answer in a facebook q&a about what music gillian relates to at the moment (at the 16:05 mark). incidentally, gillian answered one of my questions in there, too (idk, it’s a weird power i have), and that is at the 22:08 mark. it’s a cover of a cat stevens song that was in harold and maude. i love that this was her answer, i love the cat stevens original, i love hersh’s cover, and i love harold and maude. there’s a lot to love about this track.
- “happy home” by wild belle (isles)– we is about asking yourself if you’re happy, and if you’re not, what steps can you take towards happiness.
well, i don’t wanna be here
that’s why i’m acting out
i wanna flee, but i don’t know how
- “go ahead” by rilo kiley (take offs and landings)– here’s my rilo kiley selection. (see also: “a better son/daughter”—the first track on my life playlist.)
- “tttictictac” by marbert rocel (speed emotions)– this song has a rad sound, and antje seifarth’s voice is so cool. oh, and the album cover is a heart with muscular arms flexing out of it. apropos, yes?
- “world championship finale 2” by the barden bellas (pitch perfect 2 original motion picture soundtrack)– a medley of several songs including “run the world (girls)” by beyoncé which is on gillian’s we playlist. “flashlight” by jessie j is very ladies supporting ladies, in the pitch perfect context, especially since we talks about confiding in “trusted friends” and working through the principles in groups or “circles.” but, the most powerful part, to me, is the portion of pat benatar’s “we belong” because, as women, we belong and we shouldn’t apologize for it. “we belong to the light, we belong to the thunder.” indeed.
- “sights” by london grammar (if you wait)– the first i heard of london grammar was gillian’s life playlist. the whole album, if you wait, could work for this playlist, really.
- “it’s different for girls” by of montreal (innocence reaches)– i’ve kept my list female-only like the we one, but here’s a non-binary selection. also, the music video is rad as fuck.
- “don’t let me be misunderstood” by nina simone (four women: the nina simone phillips recordings)– i swear i saw this on a version of the we playlist somewhere. this is as fitting as “feeling good” if not moreso. i love the message of it: we are all human, trying our best.
- “tornadoland” by regina spektor (remember us to life)– i will always try to include spektor on my playlists, as well. she is definitely one of my favorite artists. a lot of her songs would play well on this list. i can relate to every. single. word.
the mind runs fast
your thoughts are louder than your words
and every time you turn around
it starts to hurt, hurt, it starts to hurt
but you wanna be heard, wanna be heard, wanna belouder than the storms around
you hear them through the windows and the doors
everybody’s time has come
it’s everybody’s moment, except yours
- “oh bondage, up yours!” by x-ray spex (germ free adolescents)– pretty self-explanatory, i think.
- “between two lungs” by florence + the machine (lungs)– there is a lot in the book that teaches meditative practices where breathing is vital. many of the exercises start with taking five deep breaths. also, i wanted a florence + the machine song on my playlist, too.
- “door” by nice as fuck (nice as fuck)– hey, it’s another way for me to get jenny lewis on my playlist! and this song is perfect with its message and groovy beat.
- “i am woman” by helen reddy (i am woman)– it may be cheesy or cliche, but i feel so friggin’ empowered when i listen to this song. i really like the tune, too.
- “pedestrian at best” by courtney barnett (sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit)– the rapid-fire way she sings these lyrics feels exactly like how my brain works sometimes—hundreds of thoughts at once about everything.
my internal monologue is saturated analog
it’s scratched and drifting, i’ve become attached to the idea
it’s all a shifting dream, bittersweet philosophy
i’ve got no idea how i even got here
i’m resentful, i’m having an existential time crisis
want bliss, daylight savings won’t fix this mess
under-worked and over-sexed, i must express my disinterest
the rats are back inside my head, what would freud have said?
- “breathe me” by sia (six feet under, vol. 2: everything ends)– how funny, i mentioned six feet under when i got to “feeling good” on the we playlist. this song played over the final scenes of that series, and it was so moving.
- “help i’m alive” by metric (fantasies)– “my regrets are few, if my life is mine.”
- “soft shock (acoustic version)” by yeah yeah yeahs (it’s blitz!)– boy, i had the hardest time picking one of their songs, so many fit wonderfully. (so see also: “way out” and “turn into” on show your bones and “dull life” and “hysteric” also on it’s blitz!)
- “just a girl” by no doubt (tragic kingdom)– it’s sarcasm, folks.
- “quiet” by milck (quiet)– gillian shared a link to an article and video of milck singing this in the middle of the women’s march. she tweeted, “we can’t keep quiet either. #icantkeepquiet #wewomen.”
- “what’s up?” by 4 non blondes (bigger, better, faster, more!)– honestly, this was the first song i thought of when i started mentally putting my own playlist together.
and so i cry sometimes
when i’m lying in bed just to get it all out
what’s in my head
and i, i am feeling a little peculiar
- “#1 must have” by sleater-kinney (all hands on the bad one)– a powerful message wrapped up in a punk rock song. (btw, since i’m on a six feet under kick, i got so excited when claire said she liked sleater-kinney when she went up to seattle with nate.)
watch me make up my mind instead of my face
the number one must have is that we are safe
and for all the ladies out there i wish
we could write more than the next marketing bid
culture is what we make it, yes it is
- “everything is everything” by lauryn hill (the miseducation of lauryn hill)– this song is everything, amirite. “develop the negative into a positive picture.”
(bonus: here is a video of lauryn hill singing nina simone’s “feeling good.”)
- “i like giants” by kimya dawson (remember that i love you)– i love this song. it is delightful and fun with a potent message. dawson also did a poignant song for BLM, “at the seams,” that everyone should listen to.
- “different drum” by the stone poneys (evergreen, vol. 2)– the song was written by a man, michael nesmith, who wrote it from the point of view of a man telling a woman he doesn’t want to settle down. when it was ill-received by the monkees, he took it to linda ronstadt, who reversed the gender, and it became a hit. it’s much more compelling as a woman who knows what she wants and telling her significant other what that is. ronstadt told the wall street journal that she thought her performance exuded “fear and a lack of confidence,” which is interesting because what i hear is a brave and self-assured woman.
- “i’m not your hero” by tegan and sara (heartthrob)– canadian indie pop! you can’t go wrong with these twins.
sometimes it feels like the side that i’m on
plays the toughest hand, holds the longest stand
sometimes it feels like i’m all that they’ve got
it’s so hard to know i’m not what they want
- “sullen girl” by fiona apple (tidal)– god, i listened to so much fiona apple when i was younger. the piano and her vocals are beautiful and stirring.
- “secrets” by mary lambert (heart on my sleeve)- an upbeat body positive song. (see also: body love parts 1 and 2 which is spoken word.)
- “just because i’m a woman” by dolly parton (just because i’m a woman)– “my mistakes are no worse than yours just because i’m a woman.” PREACH!
- “free” by cat power (you are free)– ending my playlist like gillian’s: with freedom!
share your feminist/girl power playlists with me!