Scarlett Sumac's Blog

MARCH 8, 2012 7:18PM

What Took You So Long?

Rate: 43 Flag

Well, I’ve really blown the momentum of my reportage on the second part of our Women Who Rock visit. Life intercedes as it usually does. 

Solar flares, computer troubles, pending deadlines and a wallop of impending Mercury retrograde messing with transportation and internet connections ... I'm starting to wonder. Add in an overwhelming desire to sleep until Spring is officially here and I'm dreadfully late. Again.

Interest has surely waned in our little adventure and I haven’t even shared our experience at the Cleveland bus station. Sorry, Margaret! 

Being a woman of my word, and in the interest of expediency, I offer a poetic diatribe as an alternative. It's not the best poetry but I haven't much time for swift rhythm and rhyme. Enjoy the videos if nothing else, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, I give you this: 


You see the blues had a baby 
and named it rock ‘n’ roll
but rock ‘n’ roll had a mama
and she sang the Blues

Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey,
Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday
and lesser known Black Pearls too:
Sippie Wallace, Edith Wilson, 
Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter to name
just a few. 

Birthed thru gospel
spirituals, country ballads 
and rhythm and blues 
Willie Mae Thornton
Mother Maybelle
Loretta Lynn
or rock-a-billy Queen 
Wanda Jackson;
they knew 
And on to
Girl Groups
like the Shangri-Las, 
the Ronettes, Little Eva 
or the Supremes
And all those songs going
through my brain 
while Janis channeled Big Mama 
when she sang Ball and Chain. 
Of course there's Joni Mitchell, 
Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, 
Grace Slick, and yes, in her black
leather jacket, Joan Jett
She wore a button that said
"Pro Fucking Choice"
with no apology; you bet.
And Ohio's
own Chrissie Hynde
with her contralto
so fine. 
Not to mention: 
Deboray Harry
Patti Smith 
Kim Deal
Marianne Faithfull
Kim Gordon 
and more.
Yes, Rock Hall of Fame
You gave me a chance to experience 
with my woman child all the 
wonderful women who came before 
But still I had a nagging feeling
when I walked out your door 
Over dinner with my girl 
we looked at the Rock Hall 
inductee list 
we scrolled down
and saw THIS
I might be remiss 
but I think
there's something
Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall 
you've got some balls
I have a question about 
Women and Song ...
regarding the
Women Who Rock ... 
What took you so long?


© Scarlett Sumac 2012

Here are some images from the Women Who Rock exhibit. Thankfully among the wardrobe wrappings were Wanda Jackson’s guitar and Tina Weymouth's (of the Talking Heads) bass guitar.

And maybe I’m just old-fashioned enough to say Britney and those of her ilk should not be in the same room as Chrissie Hynde, Grace Slick or Patti Smith. I’m the first to admit I’m a rock ‘n’ roll snob. Of the highest degree.

Perhaps I should be more open like my daughter who was born in the 1990’s. To her credit while at the RnRHofF she dragged me into a seminar where I learned about the role of women in Hip-Hop. As a result my mind is more open to understanding the context of the form and its messaging. 

As we neared the end of the exhibit some text at the RnRHall expressed the 1990’s“was the era of the riot grrrl, the rapper and the Lilith Fair, reshaping traditional ideas of feminism and traditionally male-dominated areas of the music industry. Women have arguably become the leading voices of the industry, standing -- army-booted, bare-footed, or high-heeled stiletto -- toe to toe with any artist of today.”

Maybe things are coming full circle. I have faith that out there the next big thing is percolating. 

And hopefully they won't be typecast in the Women Who Rock's current exhibit called "Ladies First." In 2012? Really? 

And, I dare say, you know who they are in a number of cases ... over primped and preened pop star models. 

It's my own personal opinion but they might have something to learn from the women that came before them. I know I did.


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Excellent contribution, and so many wonderful performers to explore, thank you
I love all of these women... just the mention of their names brings their music to my aged mind.
Thanks for this excellent post,
apology for Not downloading . . .

I have slowpoke rusty rural hookup.

My neighbor has fast-speed hooker-up.

I visit with a few 'Fat Tire' cold brews.

I have to wait sometimes to view photos.

Maybe I catch up with the times someday.

I never heard of some of these Musicians.

I ask my Granddaughter to fill me in `news.
She always lends me books that She Loves.
I returned a P.U. `CD called `Doodle Bugs.
She's about my Primary Source `Inspiration.
I promise to Listen attentively `Lard Willing.
If I go out this late I may get two`Fat Tires.
Been away for a bit and it seems Spam has taken over again. Slow night at the OS corral. Enjoy the videos; something completely at each one.

DH: I agree ... wonderful performers to explore.

jmac: Enjoy.

Art: May your grand daughter teach you well. :)
Very well said. And thanks for reminding me of Leslie Gore. Must get some of her on my ipad.
Wooo That is some collection of women. Makes me proud. Thanks.
right on time, DJ Scarlett.
Happy IWD, bella ~
Great post, Scarlett, and right on time for IWD! This is a lot of work. Thank you, you rock too!.
Baby, come on, in my kitchen, cuz it bound to be rainin' outside!

Faboo post, you are my musical sister. Can I add Memphis Minnie? And Jessie Mae Hemphill, six inch long fingernails that never hindered her fretwork, growling She-Wolf. Woooohooo!
No footage of her (but a nice pic pops up) just Jessie, her git box, and a hypnotic tune about the dumb dope who treated her mean:
Yes! I love this post. Women rock, literally.
That Big Mama T video makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck in a way that Elvis's sure didn't. Nice to hear Buddy Guy before he got so full of himself--in my opinion he's been mailing it in for a long time.

Great, creative way to follow up your previous piece, communicate what you saw, and express how you felt about it. Mind you, I believe that Rolling Stone/Jann Wenner has a strong stake in the Hall's decisions and tone, so that has to be strongly factored into the equation. It explains a lot. Regardless, I'd still love to go sometime.

Thanks for the vids, too. I don't think I've ever seen footage of Big Mama Thornton before so I particularly appreciated that.

"Life intercedes" indeed. I know all about that one these days.
I am sicker than a dog but I sat there and read each one of those names. How can Mother Maybelle compete with some of these young country stars or Chrissie Hynde compete with today's singers.
Nothing but musical history we should every forget..
Magically, musically done my friend.
Great version of Hound Dog Scarlett. I'm pretty much with you about the great and under-recognized building role so many of rock's women played, and I'd add Tina Turner and maybe Pat Benatar to the list. I've been less than impressed with the more recent wave of over-amped modern babes and their teams of backup dancers. While I liked Madonna, I can't say the same for her legacy.
Great piece, you got so many women in there, so important to remember them. Good on you!
Chrissie Hynde truly rocks. She does something for me deep down inside. Let's make a pact kills me every time. Here are the words:

Empty me
Like a dustman rids a rubbish bin
Fill me up with glimpses of you
And let the music begin
Oh oh oh
Take me to the altar

Let's make a pact
One we'll never take back
Let me prove that I'm true
Let's make a pact

Alter me
The change could only do me good
Other have tried to and failed
I wish that somebody could
Oh oh oh
Do what no one can do

Let's make a pact
One we'll never take back
Let me prove that I'm true
Let's make a pact

Take me to the world and let me wonder at the view
Set me off in motion and let me dance
After 20 years of doubt and then a week with you
I'm ready baby - follow thorugh!

Cover me in dirt
And leave me to the wind and the rain
If I should ever hurt
The one who made me human again
Oh oh oh
Take me to the altar

Let's make a pact
One we'll never take back
Let me prove that I'm true
Let's make a pact
You are our musical encyclopedia, Scarlett. And having enough women, more women, all the women who deserve to be recognized on the list -called out by you, having the names held up on a sign written as a poem, well, that's as good as it gets. What took them so long, indeed. *wonderful* post.
Good Golly Miss Scarlett!!! This was well worth the wait (although I'm still hoping for something on the bus station). You rock pretty hard yourself.
Hey folks, been celebrating tonight. Thought it better to make intelligent talk in the morning. Green Heron, if you stopped by I added Jessie Mae H. to the montage. I'm thinking Lucinda Williams too: Can't Let Go. Full moon ... talk soon.
That Wikipedia Rock Hall of Fame portal is a lyrical compilation of the psyche while yours focuses on musical femininity with a depth I haven't seen all in one place. Cool tribute. And well done!
Admittedly some of the songstresses are arcane to me. Others mainstream. Wonderful musician-lady-writer you are!
Barriers were broken and continue to be. There's some serious strength here, exactly what I needed tonight. Thank you.
Congratulations...You got it now make the most of it ...

☼(ˆ◡ˆ) ⋱ ⋮ ⋰
(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★
☼(ˆ◡ˆ) ⋰ ⋮ ⋱(¯`•´¯)¸.(¯`•´¯).¸.(¯`•´¯)¸.Have a Memorable WeekEnd NOW! ☼
(¯`•´¯)¸.(¯`•´¯).¸.(¯`•´¯)¸.(¯­`•´¯)¸.(¯`•´¯) ¸.(¯`•´¯).¸.(¯`•´¯)¸.Ŀ☼√Ξ ❤.
•¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨` *•.•¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*´¨`*•.¸¸.•*­­´¨` *• Hugs ☼
Wonderful. I think I could be trapped in this post for months, just exploring, while my life disintegrates around me. That's what you were going for, right?
Thank you for adding Jessie! The first time I heard her was when I was enduring the teary days of my divorce. She could sing about getting dumped in just the way I needed.

Can I also say how much I love that Big Mama's video begins with her striding in with her giant pocketbook, setting it carefully on a chair before she begins to sing? She is the very definition of cool.
Great stuff.

Do you know Sue Foley? Amazing guitarist - good singer, but got this tiny voice. She was going around interviewing and recording all sorts of obscure female blues guitarists - women guitarists in the field (or any field) not getting much recognition.
Myriad: Some years back Sue Foley played the Niagara Wine Festival and I was quite impressed with her. I bought her CD. Thanks for reminding me to find it.

green heron: Yes, you hear Big Mama Thornton before you see her and then she comes on carrying that big purse. What agency and what talent! In an earlier comment you mentioned guitars. Let me tell you I sliced and diced this post. I had a whole paragraph on the absence of guitars in the women's exhibit; there were a few but more emphasis on fashion. I say show me the body, show me the neck, show me the fretboard with the DNA of sweat and blood and tears. But that is for another forum. Thanks for sharing in this with me. If you follow the "Black Pearls" link there is path to amazing books (one of the same name) about the first blues singers. Angela Davis's book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism is a great one too.

Serenita: Nice to snare you in this trap:) I got caught here too watching these videos over and over. Of course this post only touches the tip of the iceberg and there are many names off my list. While I'm here let me add Odetta. Hope your garden is coming along well. I'm envious, it's snowing here.

Algis: Gonna try and make the most of it!

l'Heure Bleue: Yes and yes! Serious strength ... When we share it; it grows exponentially.

JP Hart: I've got excellent material to work with and I defer to the masters on this one. Not too many words, let the music speak for itself.

Margaret: See you and Hynde both have the Ohio rocker bangs. I told you! Ah, my bus station story ... my kid suggested I tell it a different way and when it comes to certain matters, she's always
right. So I'm reworking it ...learning from youngsters ...who'da thunk it. :)

femme: Thank You! You know if you click on the "THIS" link (maybe you have) and you scroll that list you think: Holy F**ck. I mean, where are the women? Certainly they weren't all in the back room with the cock-rockers now were they? Geez, let's rethink this, so I did. And then did some more. In a way, it's rather old news. But the Women Who Rock exhibit was [ supposedly] a contemporary statement. There was lots of good stuff there but I can't over look some things. I also seriously edited my rather scathing first draft on it. Don't worry darlin', I'll find another use for it. :)

Jeff J: I'm careful about my fanaticism on some things but I make an exception when it comes to Chrissie Hynde. I saw her do that Middle of the Road tour in the video. I LOVE her. So I get it. Let's make a pact, indeed. Nice to meet you.
Working a bit backwards here:

Luminous: It's our party and we'll cry if we want to, shall we?:) Yes and Dusty Springfield, though I suspect she's already on your iPod.

Zanelle: Happy to provide inspiration.

catch: back atcha. you had quite a nice musical poem there yourself, bella.

Fusun: Thanks. I've got to get over to your post, was out last night. Hey, thanks for letting me know about "Girl's Day" ...

green: Absolutely, Memphis Minnie. I think I'll be cruising some more on YouTube today. Dolly Parton has such long finger nails too ... I'm like , "Is she really playing that thing?"

Con: I really appreciate your comment. Yes, the hair does stand up ... and that growly voice ... well you know. You're OS's popular culture king. :)

Maureen: Yes! backatcha too.

Various: You should definitely go to the Hall. I would never suggest not going. I've been 3 x. Yes, RS/Jann Wenner's bastion ...know all about it and deliberately left it out here. Did see many of the RS covers there. They ain't what they used to be, that's for sure!

Linda: Hope you're feeling better. It's been so mild (until today) that tons of people are sick around here. Hope you get over yours quickly. We're on the same page abut remembering where all this came from.

Abra: Tina's up there. There is an essay by a writer named bell hooks that just may (or may not) change your mind about Madonna.
I was struggling at one point with my contradictory feelings about Madonna. After reading the essay, I put my conflicts to rest. You may have noticed she's not in my poem.

Sheila: Now I bet you acknowledged/celebrated International Women's Day. Cheers!
Oooh, looks like I'm going to have to spend some time in here today. Great poem! Chicks with guitars rule!

And, at the risk of being one of those annoying people who say, "Oh, but have you ever seen this one?", I'm going to say, "Oh, but have you ever seen ? She may have been gospel, but she really rocked. (With your vast knowledge, you probably already know about her.)
Well, the link works, but it didn't come out the way I wanted it to. Let me try again.

Oooh, looks like I'm going to have to spend some time in here today. Great poem! Chicks with guitars rule!

And, at the risk of being one of those annoying people who say, "Oh, but have you ever seen this one?", I'm going to say, "Oh, but have you ever seen this one? She may have been gospel, but she really rocked. (With your vast knowledge, you probably already know about her.)
Excellent reportage, as per. Thanks for the tour, etc.
Maybe Pink for the hip-hoppers -
"So what I'm still a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you"

the beat goes on...
Very nice and thoughtful. And your poem should be on a plaque at the exhibit!
Rated for Jessie Mae Hemphill.
Got it on in the background. Maybe I'll get back.
Impressive. The inductees and this essay, woman!
Awesome post! I'll be spending the next hour or so listening (at work!)

Rock on!
OMG Jeanette...Sister Rosetta!! I love how all the chorus men just stand there and clap along while she goes into her smokin' guitar bridge and her rocking dance moves in that flowered grandma dress!

Okay, since we're sharing, my all time guitar heroine Libba, who I don't know how to blue link, but here she is playing her signature tune, Freight Train. Note that she is playing her little parlor git box left handed and upside down, like Jimi did.

Scarlett.....the guitars are so important. Bonnie Raitt had that program to give red Strats to little guitar playing girls, replicas of hers.
things, i find, are usually at least
to come full circle, for
this is what things do!

self aggrandizing girly pop stars are ephemeral.
whitney is our lesson for that.
it is currently an oversexed culture,
because of fundamentalism's goofy reprise
in the Republican Party.

The next big thing? My big brain tells me : duets.
those great collaboration songs between
male & female artists?

is it ok to call them chix? is rok grrlz better? rok womenz? i never know these days what's acceptable. :(
Quite a bit of action here since I left the house this morning. Just back, dropped over at Fay Paxton's place and -- WOW -- all the more encouragement to open our mouths and sing or say what's on our minds.

Jeanette: Thanks so much for Sister Rosetta playing her electric guitar and all singing gospel. (I'll put the video up after I finish commenting). I don't know that I have "vast" knowledge but thanks. I read and researched quite a bit regarding the first women of Blues, the rock stuff well, like Lou Reed says, I think I was "saved" by R'n' R.

Damon: I know I really gotta get with the times. Musically, I seem to be going backwards there days to the roots. Yes, Pink and so many others. My daughter gets me back on track when she's home.

ASH: TY. Normally I would've worked more on that poem before putting it up. But it was IWD and I just threw it out there like a kind of rap conversation. Maybe I'll rework it and send it to The Hall. :)

AKA: Time to get out your National and play along. :)

Belinda: Thanks for sharing in this.

Asian Rein: Very professional new avvy. Glad you're enjoying it @ work ... I can't watch videos at my job. Good for you. Can you believe Janis Joplin was not inducted into the Hall of Fame until 1995???

Owl Says Who: So this is what we have to do to pull you from the nest. :)

Green: Nice to see you thrice. "Freight train, freight"... What a beautiful video. Bowing before Elizabeth Cotton here.

James: The duet? Like Sonny & Cher ... The Beat Goes On. :)

Nana: Your comment made me laugh. When my daughter and I were in Ohio she said she wanted to reclaim the term "chicks." I said "Go for it and so will I!"
Etta James begat Dionne Farris begat Tracy Chapman. Yes, they are well represented in our vinyl/CD collection. So are Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf.

"I met a girl who sang the blues/And I asked her for some happy news...."

Love it.
@Jeanette: Couldn't upload the Sister Rosetta video. Disabled from embedding. :(

Bo: Yes, Etta! and those she paved the way for. I know I didn't include everyone but it is good to see the names appearing in this thread. Though I throw a good party in 'real life' I haven't been around to tend the fires here. Mea culpa. Hope you the TPR are well.
A very nice compilation.
Superb post with some excellent points, Scarlett! Rock on indeed!
Scarlett, you have got to be one of the coolest women around. ~r
I can watch videos at work because I am a realtor, ie independent contractor, not paid until I close the deal, (wanna buy a house??) The avatar is my new biz card pic, she photoshopped out the fact that I'm 50...
With music, as long as we have voices and fingers to tap out a beat, there will always be another next best thing. It naturally evolves and ebbs and flows. It's a reflection of the human soul.

Good women all. YAY US!!

This was excellent. :)
Scarlett, I poured myself a glass of wine, sat back and enjoyed all of your fantastic videos. What a treat!
Oh can women sing the blues, and every other color. I want to hear more about the Cleveland bus station and Margaret.
Whenever I get down in the dumps a bit, Janis and Bobby McGee brings me to my senses.

"You see the blues had a baby
and named it rock ‘n’ roll
but rock ‘n’ roll had a mama
and she sang the Blues"

Don't dump too much on your poetry--that's pretty good!!
Fabulous post. I love all these artists. You would be fun to catch some great music with!
Great post, great videos, great women.