Another comprehensive (and absolutely hysterical) list of songs to help make dusting time fun time, from one of our favorite wowlebrities David Munk (Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys) via his blog Stargayzing. This time, the theme is 1970s Feminism.
In the early-1970s, my parents split up and my mom quickly reinvented herself as an Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore–style feminist. No longer satisfied with the limitations of 1950s-era definitions of women’s sex roles, my mother pushed back: cooking and cleaning were out and the full-time pursuit of her dream of become a psychologist were in (along with a subscription to Ms. and a National Organization of Woman t-shirt). To memorialize her commitment mom adapted a now-iconic women’s lib poster illustrated by “Virtue Hathaway” (real name: Shirley Boccaccio) into a needlepoint. The poster depicted an ethereal-looking woman with a broken broomstick below the words “Fuck Housework” in a bold, Old English font. Though she simplified the design by eliminating the woman and retaining the broom and the text, mom still made her statement effectively, especially when she hung the finished piece in the seldom-used dining room, the erstwhile location of our family dinners from when we used to have a family…
…It is only now, from the vantage point of maturity, that I can fully appreciate the irony of expressing intolerance of 1950′s-era sex roles via the most traditional of women’s past times: needlework.
Here then is Stargayzing’s Gay Man’s Guide to the 11 Best Songs to Listen to While Dusting: 1970s Feminist Edition. Hopefully it will gently discourage you, dear readers, from ever saying, “Fuck Housework!”
1. “I Am Woman” Helen Reddy (1973)
If Carole King’s Tapestry is the album that defined a generation of women, then Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” was their anthem. The song expressed the zeitgeist with startling precision and, despite lyrics that were considered strident, even militant, by many, became a ubiquitous call to action in 1973. For young women like my mother and her friends, the empowering mid-tempo “I Am Woman” was a thrilling pop music repudiation of sex roles that felt as constricting as the girdles they wore to their proms. Helen’s song was the musical equivalent of the contemporaneous Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress: freeing; empowering; and incredibly new.
The song holds up quite well both as a symbol of its era and as a very well-constructed, pleasant pop song. Ironically, it is also quite excellent for dusting, suggesting broad, powerful strokes.
2. “Sam” Olivia Newton-John (1976)
As I do consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of popular music, I felt strongly it was important to include at least one song in 3/4 time; a waltz always suggests a powerful inclination toward the grand gesture. In other words: it is perfect for housework, particularly dusting.
“Sam” was included on Olivia Newton-John’s 1977 Don’t Stop Believin’ LP (no connection to the song by Journey) and went to #20 on the pop chart and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was produced and co-written by John Farrar, who was behind most of Olivia’s hit songs and co-written by Hank Marvin (lead guitarist for The Shadows), and Don Black (lyricist of “Ben,” “Born Free,” and “Diamonds Are Forever,” among many others). I still love its neo-Liberace piano arrangement. It is a song I try to listen to at least once a month and now that I have a new roommate named Sam, perhaps even more than that.
One year after its initial release, “Sam” was included on Livvy’s first collection of greatest hits, which is where I first heard it. Listening to it today brings me right back to 7th grade and to the importance of maintaining a tidy home.
To (and hear) see the entire list, go to Stargayzing.com