You know how it used to be a thing to ask which was your favorite Spice Girl (I’m gonna go with Posh???)? Or which was your favorite Power Ranger (duh, Pink)**? Well, Amy Ray is my favorite Indigo Girl.
I grew up on the Indigo Girls’ fabulous harmonies and powerful social justice lyrics. In high school and during college, when I had no money for music, I repetitively listened to a bootlegged taped copy of their first album (Indigo Girls, 1989) that cut off in the middle of the song Land of Canaan. I literally did not know how that song ended until I was out of college.
Amy Ray’s raw, sonorous alto voice and the emotion in the lyrics she writes and sings have brought me to tears oh so many times. What I love about her, what I wish to emulate most about her, is the authenticity she brings to her art. She doesn’t hold back from any of it, whether it’s staring down the black abyss of despair or grasping for a shred of humor to cover the pain of reality and make it go down just a little easier. “You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t,” she says on 1200 Curfews, their live album from 1994/95.
I listen to the Girls when I write, when I’m driving, when I’m just hanging around… hoping that somehow some of that awesome authenticity will sink into my own craft, that some of the poeticism and raw emotion will shine through me or rub off onto the worlds that I write about.
So thank you, Amy Ray. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for writing lyrics that sit on my heart and help me express some of my own angst in this life, and rejoice at the beauty of connection, too. Can’t wait to see you perform again on your next time through town.
**Disclaimer: I’ve never watched Power Rangers. Not even once.