Women That Rock: Guitar-Playing Singer-Songwriter Edition

ZiplessMy rock ‘n roll romance novella, ZIPLESS, has been released into the wild. The main character, Louisa Marzaroli, is a singer-songwriter who can no longer perform due to a traumatic episode when she was much younger. A major part of her character arc is finding the strength to get back on stage and kick some serious butt with her songwriting, singing, and guitar-playing chops.

Was there a particular female performer who inspired the character of Lou? No, actually. There were  many.

Here are just a few of them in no particular order of preference:

Tracy Chapman. Love her. That gorgeous, rich voice, the sincerity of her delivery, that mega-kilowatt smile. This is one of my favorite songs from her, and I’m fascinated by the story in it. In jail, on $20,000 bail, but no regrets. Oh, the things we won’t do for love.

Michelle Shocked. Now more famous for an offensive outburst than anything else, but me, I still remember the first time I heard the ‘Texas Campfire Tapes,’ which was just the first time of so, so many. It’s really hard to find performances of her earlier material on YouTube, but here’s one. It will probably get taken down at some point, so check it out while you can.  The story, the voice, the presence, and oh my, the guitar playing.

Courtney Love. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know everyone hates Courtney. I don’t.  ‘Live Through This’ was an almost perfect piece of rage and pain in sonic form. And she’s one hell of a frontwoman.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe. This is one of my favorite vids on YouTube. She arrives at a train station near rainy Manchester in 1964, dressed like she’s about to attend a tea party with the Queen. Then she straps on a guitar… And didn’t it rain, children?

Maria McKee. I’ve been a fan of Maria’s magnificent voice since the Lone Justice days, but this later song and performance is a big favorite of mine. The intensity of that stare, the ongoing dedications to the unloved, the lonely, the misfits. And when she’s goes a bit bonkers on her beat up old guitar…goosebumps galore.

Joan Armatrading. Was she ever famous outside of the UK? I don’t even know if she’s considered obscure or not. She shouldn’t be. Great songwriter and vocalist, but it’s her guitar work that really makes her a must-have on this list. She can play the hell out of that thing. Frickin’ guitar goddess.

PJHarvey. HUGE fan of Polly Jean. Hardest thing was just picking one clip. She’s such an intense performer, and in this clip she has a huge crowd in the palm of her hand.

I lied. Here’s another astonishing performance from PJ. And if you think she was angry in that last performance…

Sandy Denny. Have you ever had the crazy lady blues? In under two minutes, let Sandy Denny cleanse your soul with the beauty of her song, her voice, and her acoustic guitar.

I could go on and on…and on and on. Do you have a particular favorite? Or would you care to add one of your own? Please feel free to comment or add your own in the comment section. Rock on!



About Diane Dooley

Writer, Mother, Geek
This entry was posted in I Call It Genius, Other Stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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