Important Influences

     A lot of artists talk about their influences, usually referencing other important artists in their genre, or other famous people who have made names for themselves on a large scale. As a Tom Petty fan, I'm well aware of the influence that Elvis Presley and the Beatles had on him, just as I'm well aware of the influence that Buddy Holly had on the Beatles and so on. Some of my influences include Tom Petty, the Beatles, and Buddy Holly as well as some less popular groups like the Kingston Trio, or people like Dave Van Ronk and Django Reinhardt. 

     Occasionally you hear an artist talk about influences that are closer to home, like family and friends. They can be good or bad influences, they can be events, they can be a collective, like a neighborhood. As a musical geographer, I like the place based influences, it interests me. 

     Today I'd like to expand on my influences. The people and place of my everyday life have shaped my world view and my music. It's nice to consider where you came from now and then. Maybe it could focus you on where you're going.

     I am lucky. I've known two great-grandmothers. I had two grandmothers who genuinely cared about me and showed it in many ways. I had a great aunt who was one of the most amazing women you could ever meet, and I have an aunt who is still a role model. What do they all have in common (other than me)? They are strong female role models. I'm lucky to have known a group of strong women. Has it influenced my life and music? Absolutely.

     We're living in some odd times. One of the things that bothers me the most is that there are a group of people trying to turn back the clock on women's rights. I think the thing that bothers me the most is that there are people letting them do it. Some of the ways that those rights are being turned back is subtle. The most annoying thing for me is the image of a woman in a nuevo country music videos. You know what I'm talking about, a scantily clad girl sitting in the the middle of a bench seat in a pick-up truck on a dirt road, fawning all over her man. Ladies, that's a degrading image. Why don't you take a turn driving? Why don't you tell that fat b^st#$d to get his own beer? Do you understand that little girls all over the world are watching that video and looking up to you? 

     I can't place all the emphasis on country music here. Any time a rapper mentions his hoes and people spend money on the song, it's reinforcing negative images of what a woman should be. 

     Why can't I write all this stuff off? Because the strong women in my life would never stand for it. I would feel their disappointment across time and space if I ever treated a woman like that or endorsed someone who does. More importantly, if my son saw me treat a woman like that, he would think it would be okay, and that would be awful. 

     When I think of strong women, I'll think of my grandmother teaching me to swim or ride my bike. I'll remember my grandmother taking us to the beach, or mini-golf, all while we all sing-a-long to Weird Al's latest album. Whenever I untangle a fishing line, occasionally mine but usually my son's, I'll remember the extreme patience and enjoyment my grandmother seemed to get from defeating a particularly large bird's nest. I'll remember the love of music that most of my family has, but especially my grandmothers. There are certain songs I play that know they both enjoyed immensely, and frequently requested. 

     Have these women influenced my music? Yes, because they've influenced my life.

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