Finding Myself in a Simple Chord

You know that moment when you hear or encounter a piece of art that brings you back to a long lost moment?

I had that happen recently when shuffling through the music on my iPod. Suddenly the image of days gone by was flooding my mind stirred only by a few guitar chords. I was 15 standing in the cold dark wings of my high school theatre, hearing those same chords coming out of my friend Nicole’s guitar. The song, Ani Difranco’s “In or Out” (a song that explores/describes her bisexuality as well as the general feeling of not quite fitting people's expectations).

This anthem of righteous babes (the name of Difranco’s record label) and other outsiders immediately connected with my own feelings of isolation and growing need to rail against the feeling of being boxed into a narrow identity. While I didn’t know who I was, I did know that I was different from the communities in which I was birthed.   It was the time and age when I was beginning the active process of figuring out who I am, outside of the descriptions I had been given in my conservative Christian family and communities. This song, as well as many others in Difranco’s cannon of work let me try on different views and experiences from the comfort of a tape deck, cd player, or through my friend’s finger tips.

Each song held encounters into issues of gender, sexuality, feminism, social and economic justice, the plight of the worker, among others. It is in part through these experiences with this music and its thematic material that I am involved with Level Ground... besides who doesn’t love the nostalgia of an empowerment song?

What are some of the pieces that have marked you? Has this art changed your views or understanding of life?