Societal Issues In Ani Difranco’s Music Essay, Research Paper
Throughout history, music has served as a way for artists to express their feelings and beliefs on many different subjects. Often songs contain messages concerning socialization issues such as gender, relationships, emotions, and life stages. Ani DiFranco is a musician who uses her art as a method of conveying her thoughts and feelings about societal issues. In her music, which can be described as a combination of folk and punk, Ani questions convention and discusses topics that are often considered taboo. Ani’s views are often considered to be the epitome of post-feminist ideals.
Ani wrote the song Out of Habit when she was eighteen years old, after just having moved to New York City. The main message of the song is the way in which life can be so mundane and repetitive that it becomes almost habitual. “The butter melts out of habit / the toast isn’t even warm.” This song expresses to the listener how a person on the brink of adulthood copes with everyday encounters. A large portion of the song is devoted to gender issues specific to females. A man propositions Ani play to play a song for him, and she is forced to suspect ulterior motives. The listener is informed through Ani’s lyrics that she has been emotionally and physically hurt by lovers in the past and does not “need to be lured” by the man. In this, Ani is bringing forth matters about a woman’s need to be weary of men in lieu of the strife that is often associated with relationships. In conjunction with the title of the song, the listener also assumes that women suspect malevolent intentions from men “out of habit.”
Ani completely encapsulates the mindset of an eighteen-year-old individual struggling to become accustomed to a new environment. At this age, Ani knows where her passion lies, yet she can’t understand exactly the reasons behind her passions. “You know, art is why I get up in the morning / but my definition ends there, it doesn’t seem fair / that I’m living for something I can’t even define.” At the same time, its as if her fervor for art exists simply because of habit. Such a feeling is not uncommon to young adults, who are often grappling to “find themselves.”
Another song in which Ani DiFranco addresses societal situations is In or Out. In sharing her own bisexual lifestyle in this song, Ani communicates to the listener her belief that each person is unique and has the right to live any lifestyle he or she feels appropriate. This song is full of incredulous lyrics through which Ani questions the way that people typically want to ‘box’ each other into certain stereotypes. “In their minds they’re all asking / are you in or are you out? / and I think, what is this about?” Ani feels that society concentrates far too much upon topics such as sexual orientation; Society’s focus should concentrate instead on the love that can develop between two people regardless of sex or race.
Music has always stood as a way for people to express their feelings and beliefs to a wider public. More often than not, societal issues are addressed in song, thus bringing these topics to the ears and minds of listeners. Ani DiFranco is an artist who reaches people through song. Her lyrics are brimming with passion, anger, humor, and love. She addresses many issues in her works, many of which center around gender, gender relationships, emotions, and life stages. Through accounts of her own personal experiences, Ani emphasizes individuality in all that she does. The message she sends to her listeners is that ‘conventionality’ and ‘normalcy’ are not synonymous with ‘correctness.’
DiFranco, Ani. “Out of Habit.” Living in Clip. Righteous Babe Records. 1995.
DiFranco Ani. “In or Out.” Living in Clip. Righteous Babe Records. 1995.
Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1999.