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Top 10 Favorite Classic Ani Difranco Songs
Ani Difranco has often referred to herself as a "little folksinger". Although the roots of her music may begin with folksy acoustic guitar, her songs are a creative blend of thoughtful lyrics, beautiful vocals, and talented musicianship.
Born in Buffalo, NY, Ani started playing the guitar and writing her own songs at an early age. As a teenager, she moved to New York City to continue with her music and started playing in clubs in the city. In 1989, she started her own record label and released her first album, Ani Difranco, in 1990. Constant touring and word of mouth helped her build a legion of fans. Known for her feminist ideals, open sexuality, and her support of political and social issues, she has become a spokesperson for her generation.
Over her career, Ani has released over 40 albums and explored many musical genres. Her band has changed over the years as she has added elements of rap, jazz, and spoken word to her songs.
The list below might serve as an introduction to Ani Difranco's music. Most of these songs are from the earlier part of her career and could be considered "classic" songs. I have put them in chronological order, but many of her songs appear on multiple albums.
"Fire Door" from her first album, Ani Difranco
This is a simple love song, but shows off the beauty of Ani's voice and songwriting. Although it was first released in 1990 on her album, Ani Difranco, my favorite version appears on her live album, Living In Clip.
"Both Hands" from Ani Difranco
Another great love song from Ani's debut album. However, I prefer the live version that appeared on her ep More Joy, Less Shame.
"Anticipate" from Not So Soft
"Anticipate" from her second album, Not So Soft, is a classic Ani song about independence and mistrust of relationships. There is another great live version of the song on Living In Clip, featuring Sara Lee on bass and Andy Stochansky on drums.
"In or Out" from Imperfectly
"In or Out" is probably one of Ani's best known and loved songs. As statement about her sexuality, the song first appears on her third album, Imperfectly, but is included on Living in Clip and many of her official bootlegs.
"Untouchable Face" from Dilate
"Untouchable Face" was released on Ani's seventh album, Dilate, in 1996. A song about unrequited love, peppered with four letter words as only Ani can deliver. This song also appeared on Living in Clip, and Ani often performed the song with Greg Brown when the two toured together in 1998.
"Gravel" from Living in Clip
Most of us are familiar with the song, "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen, where the male protagonist picks up his girlfriend Mary and they ride off together. I've always thought that "Gravel" could be a song about what's going through Mary's head when her boyfriend shows up with this plan. First released live on Living in Clip in 1997, a studio version of the song was also included on 1998's Little Plastic Castles.
"Two Little Girls" from Little Plastic Castles
"Two Little Girls" is a song about two newcomers to the Big Apple, building a relationship and trying to protect each other from the dangers of love. Released in 1998 on Little Plastic Castles, this is always a crowd pleaser at Ani's live shows.
"Swandive" from Little Plastic Castles
"Swandive" is a brilliant song - part love story, part statement of independence. The lyrics show Ani's songwriting at its best, with clever word play and a wonderful touch of humor and irony. Although the song was first released on Little Plastic Castles in 1998, there is a great live version on 2002's So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter.
"Angry Anymore" from Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up
"Angry Anymore" shows Ani as a more mature songwriter, reflecting on her own relationship and comparing it to the behavior she saw in her own parents' marriage. The song was released on Ani's ninth studio album, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up in 1999.
"Slide" from Evolve
2002's Evolve featured an expanded band with horns and keyboards. This band helped bring a jazzy feel to one of my favorite songs, "Slide". Again, Ani's strong songwriting, beautiful voice and humor is on display.
Because I couldn't really limit the list to just 10 songs, here are some other favorites:
"4th of July" from Puddle Dive
"32 Flavors" from Not a Pretty Girl
"Swing" from To the Teeth
"Cradle & All" from So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter
"Studying Stones" from Knuckle Down
For more information about Ani Difranco and her music, check out my other article: 10 Things You Might Not Know About Singer-Songwriter Ani Difranco, or visit her website at www.righteousbabe.com. There you will find information about her music, tour dates, and the latest news.