Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco is a singer/ songwriter and a feminist icon who has released more than 20 albums.  Her work is both autobiographical and strongly political.  She has spoken out, through and outside her music, on issues including racism, sexism, sexual abuse, reproductive rights, homophobia and war.  It is difficult to choose between her songs in terms of political messaging, but here are three favourites: Lost Woman Song,Amendment and Which Side Are You On?

I opened a bank account
When I was nine years old
I closed it when I was eighteen
I gave them every penny that I’d saved
And they gave my blood
And my urine
A number
Now I’m sitting in this waiting room
Playing with the toys
And I am here to exercise
My freedom of choice
I passed their handheld signs
Went through their picket lines
They gathered when they saw me coming
They shouted when they saw me cross
I said why don’t you go home
Just leave me alone
I’m just another woman lost
You are like fish in the water
Who don’t know that they are wet
As far as I can tell
The world isn’t perfect yet
His bored eyes were obscene
On his denim thighs a magazine
I wish he’d never come here with me
In fact I wish he’d never come near me
I wish his shoulder
Wasn’t touching mine
I am growing older
Waiting in this line
Some of lifes best lessons
Are learned at the worst times
Under the fierce flourescent
She offered her hand for me to hold
She offered stability and calm
And I was crushing her palm
Through the pinch pull wincing
My smile unconvincing
On that sterile battlefield that sees
Only casualties
Never heros
My heart hit absolute zero
Lucille, your voice still sounds in me
Mine was a relatively easy tragedy
Now the profile of our country
Looks a little less hard nosed
But that picket line persisted
And that clinic’s since been closed
They keep pounding their fists on reality
Hoping it will break
But I don’t think there’s a one of us
Leads a life free of mistakes

Wouldn’t it be nice if
We had an amendment
To give civil rights to
Women
To once and for all just
Really lay it down from
A point of view of
Women

I know what you’re thinking
That’s just redundant
Chicks got it good now
They can almost be president
But worker against worker
Time and time again
As the rich use certain issues as a tool
And when I said we need the ERA
It ain’t cause I’m a fool
it’s cause without it nobody can get away
with anything cool

You don’t need to go far like
Just over to Canada
To feel the height and sense of
Live and let live
What is it about Americans
Like so many pitbulls
Trained to attack them
To never give

We gotta come down abortion
Put it down in the books for good
As central to the civil rights of women
Make diversity legal
Make it finally understood
Through the civil rights of women

And if you don’t like abortion
Don’t have an abortion
Teach your children
How they can avoid them
But don’t treat all women
Like they are your children
Compassion has many faces
Many names
And if men can kill
And be decorated instead of blamed
When a woman called onto mother
Can choose to refrain

And contrary to eons
Of oldtime religion
Your body is your only true communion
Nature is not here to serve you
Or at any cost to preserve you
That’s just some preacherman’s oldtime opinion

Life is sacred
Life is also profane
A woman’s life
It must be hers to name
Let an amendment
Put this brutal game to rest
Trust women will still take you to their breast
Trust women will always do their best
Trust that our differences make us stronger, not less

In this amendment
Shall be family structure shall be free
To be the right to civil union
If we take unions of all kinds
Unions of hearts and minds
To give society communion
Let’s do more than tolerate
Let gay and straight resonate
And emanate all things human
With equal rights and
Equal protection
Intolerance finally ruined

And then there’s the kids rights
They’ll naturally be on board
A tunnel through which
Women’s lives are poured
Our family is so big and we’re all so very small
Let a web of relationship be laid over it all
Over the … of power piled up into the sky
Over the illusion of autonomy on which it relies
Over any absolute of nature that’s not surprised(?)

Ani has also recently covered ‘Which Side Are You On,’ originally written by Florence Reece in the 1930s.

They stole a few elections,
Still we the people won
We voted out corruption and
Big corporations

We voted for an end to war
New direction
We ain’t gonna stop now
Until our job is done

Come on all good workers
This year is our time
Now there some folks in washington
Who cares what’s on our minds

Come one-come all voters
Lets all vote next time
Show ’em which side are you on now
Which side are you on

Which side are you on now
Which side are you on
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

Which side are you on now
Which side are you on
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

30 years of diggin’
Got us in this hole
The curse of reaganomics
Has finally taken it’s toll

Lord knows the free market
Is anything but free
It costs dearly to the planet
And the likes of you and me

I don’t need those money lenders
Suckin’ on my tit
A little socialism
Don’t scare me one bit!

We could do a whole lot worse
Than europe or canada
C’mon mr. president
C’mon congress make the law

Which side are you on now
Which side are you on
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

They say in orleans parish
There are no neutrals there
There’s just too much misery
There’s too much despair

America who are we
Now our innocence is gone
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

Too many stories written
Out in black and white
C’mon people of privilege
It’s time to join the fight

Are we living in the shadow of slavery
Or are we moving on
Tell me which side are you on now
Which side are you on

Which side are you on boys
Which side are you on
Which side are you on boys
Which side are you on
Which side are you on boys
Which side are you on
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

My mother was a feminist
She taught me to see
That the road to ruin is paved
With patriarchy

So, let the way of the women
Guide democracy
From plunder and pollution
Let mother earth be free

Feminism ain’t about women
No, that’s not who it is for
It’s about a shifting consciousness
That’ll bring an end to war

So listen up you fathers
Listen up you sons
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

Which side are you on now
Which side are you on
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on

So are we just consumers
Or are we citizens
Are we gonna make more garbage
Or are we gonna make amends

Are you part of the solution
Or are you part of the con?
Which side are you on now
Which side are you on?

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