My Top 10 Favorite Liz Phair Songs in Honor of the Rockmommy’s 4/17 Birthday

Indie rock queen — and fellow rockmommy — Liz Phair is one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, and I’m so bummed that I didn’t get to see her last summer, in what would have been 2020’s most epic grunge reunion tour with Alanis Morisette and Garbage

Liz Phair, rocking out (photo source: UPI)

It would have marked the third or fourth time I’ve seen Phair since discovering Exile in Guyville eons ago, when her music spoke to everything I was feeling, coming of age. But while Guyville got me hooked on Phair, it’s Whip-Smart, whitechocolatespaceegg and other records that kept me coming back.

On April 17, Liz Phair turns 54.

Here are my top 10 favorite Liz Phair songs (and their respective albums). A few of them may surprise you!

#10 “Rock me” (Liz Phair) 

“Just take off my dress/let’s mess with everybody’s mind” is probably the first thought that pops into my head when I’m crushing on someone. And the way Liz sings it, brash and unapologetic, on a record released when she was over 35, is so inspiring to us MILF rocker gals. 

#9: “Flower” (Exile in Guyville)

I’ve fantasized about covering this sexually explicit, lyrically jaw-dropping song for years. The first time I heard it I felt alive in a way I had never felt before — I had no idea a woman could wield power with barely more than a whisper, and express her desires so openly. Of course, nowadays female artists say things much more graphic than Liz Phair did in this song, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, this track was something special. 

[Related: https://rockmommy.com/2019/04/liz-phair-proving-that-there-isnt-an-age-cutoff-for-wearing-miniskirts/]

#8 “Why Can’t I?” (Liz Phair)

It starts out as sweet and sappy, builds up to the chorus and then BOOM — we’re suddenly in the midst of Liz Phair’s relationship angst, with all of its glorious ebbs and flows.

#7 “Extraordinary”

Loaded with roaring guitars guitar hooks, Phair’s voice is clear and confident, transforming this rocking tune into a powerful anthem.

#6 “Polyester Bride” (whitechocolatespaceegg) 

Beyond the addictive chorus and the catchy guitar hook, this song’s appeal lies in its thought-provoking question, repeated throughout: “Do you want to be a polyester bride?” In other words, do you want to surrender to the inevitable doldrums of wife life — or flee that fate to enjoy a life of adventure? Most of us chose the former at some point, perhaps by necessity, but still. 

#5 “6’1” (Exile in Guyville)

This is the first track on Guyville and the first Liz Phair song I ever heard. And it kind of blew my mind. Here was this woman, whose voice wasn’t gravelly and raw like Courtney Love’s, or dramatic and bitter like Alanis Morisette’s. No, Phair’s vocals came out low, and almost monotone. Yet they still packed a punch, as she belted out, underneath the cascade of shimmery guitars, “I bet you fall in bed too easily… with the beautiful girls who are shyly brave.” You only get one chance to make a first impression. And after hearing ‘6’1,’ I became a Liz Phair fan for life.

Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (source: Matador Records)

#4 “Supernova” (Whip-Smart) 

I love this bouncy, wah-pedal, pop-rock track, an ode to her ex. I especially love the part when she sings, “you f*ck like a volcano,” because when it comes to picking a mate, priorities matter.

#3 “Johnny Feelgood” (whitechocolatespaceegg)

I love a good bad boy, and “Johnny Feelgood” is dirty in the subtlest way, a homage to the ones we used to fall for but couldn’t hold down. It’s like she read my mind when she wrote this. Side note: it’s shocking that this isn’t everyone’s favorite whitechocolatespaceegg song, when Liz asks fans to share in Twitter polls. It’s most certainly my favorite on that album, and my third favorite Phair song of all time. 

#2 “Mesmerizing” (Exile in Guyville) 

OK, so this track, sandwiched in between the more popular “Canary” and “F*ck and Run” doesn’t make a lot of Liz Phair favorite-song lists. But I think it’s absolutely brilliant and I never skip over it when I’m listening to Guyville. The song is like sunlight on a foggy day, with breezy, lithe guitar strums, and a perfect lyrical hook, “I want to be… mesmerizing too.” It is so, so good.

#1 “F*ck and Run” (Exile in Guyville)

It’s no surprise that F&R is my favorite Liz Phair song, but can you blame me? It pretty much captures every emotion a woman feels after a one-night, intoxicated hookup, and the universal longing for something deeper, more meaningful, and even more traditional in the midst of it. It’s probably your favorite Liz Phair song too, or is it? 

What is your favorite Liz Phair song? Comment, please! 

Liz Phair, Proving that There isn’t an Age Cutoff for Wearing Miniskirts

Age shaming is a hot topic these days, mostly affecting women. There’s age discrimination in the workplace, in the arts and onstage. Collette McLafferty, author of Confessions of a Bad Ugly Singer, documented this experience succinctly, having spent every year since her 25th birthday being told she was too old to make it big in music.

[RELATED: Collette McLafferty Finds Her Most Powerful Voice in Wake of $10 Million Lawsuit]

One of the most insulting ways age discrimination manifests is through fashion. There are tons of videos on “what not to wear” when you’ve hit a certain milestone, like your 30th or 40th birthday. This Oprah magazine video, in which stylist Adam Glassman — #Adamsays — tries to convince a 48-year-old mom to swap her cute miniskirt for a pretty-but-boring turquoise sheath dress, encapsulates this attitude. You might look great and feel great in a miniskirt, but don’t you dare put one on unless you’re “a cougar” trying to attract young men. 

[RELATED: East Village Rocker Mama ReW Takes On ‘Mainstream’ Fashion in TLC Show]

But in an era when 40-year-old Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine can tear off his shirt during the Super Bowl and flaunt his perfect abs, I call BS on this double standard — and (probably) so does my rockmommy friend Rew, who was told on TLC’s “Love, Lust or Run” to drop her signature goth-dress-and-chunky-boot look for a more streamlined, body-hugging green dress that was supposedly more age appropriate.

And instead, I’d like to draw attention to the bold and badass Liz Phair, who recently told The Washington Post, “They’ll bury me in a miniskirt.” She was 51 at the time of the interview.

liz-phair-2018

Liz Phair

Seeing Liz Phair perform is inspiring. Exile in Guyville is one of the greatest records I’ve ever owned, and it pretty much captured all of my angsty, lusty, complicated emotions. I spent hours singing along to the CD in my car (as well as all follow-ups, including whitechocolatespaceegg and the self-titled Liz Phair). I’ve only seen Liz twice, but she commands her set like a pro. And she also does it while looking fantastic in a miniskirt! If she enjoys wearing one, why shouldn’t she? Why should some fashion “guru” create the rules of what we can and can’t wear?

Because Liz is a mom, she probably gets twice as much backlash. But again, motherhood should not dictate how a woman dresses, except that a mom should feel as comfortable and supported as possible when rearing young children. Motherhood does not mean a woman should stop wearing bikinis, miniskirts or whatever else makes her happy. 

So I’d like to raise a glass (of coffee) to Liz Phair, my idol in music and in fashion, an inspiring rocker and rock mama. Keep strutting your stuff, girl. Redefine what it means to be a fifty-something gal. All of us thirty- and forty-somethings are looking up to you. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Returning to Blogging (and a show!)

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Hey everyone — I’m back! After an amazing summer (see above), I’m busier than ever — teaching eight students, writing more articles than ever (including several for LearnVest on personal finance), and (finally!) playing a couple of rock shows. 

My friend Heidi helped me redesign my website a bit, and it is much more ‘rockin’ than it was before. 

And, I’m eating for two. 🙂 So, yes, busy. I’m going to try to commit to three things: 

1.) Blogging once a week here

2.) Writing a daily gratitude list

3.) trying my best not to get overwhelmed by the overwhelmingness of it all. 

So I’m watching “The Voice,” and I can’t help but feel really badly for CeeLo Green. Christina Aguilera is getting all the good artists, and he is hardly getting any. It’s a shame, too, because he’s so talented. Should I try out for “The Voice?” I’m technically over the hill, age-wise. And my voice is good, but it isn’t drop-dead amazing. Then again, neither is Liz Phair’s or Courtney Love’s… 

And speaking of Courtney Love, I’m working on a post I’ll tentatively call “Why I feel sorry for Courtney Love.” I haven’t had much time to work on it, so here’s the short version: tI was this huge Hole fan and Courtney worshipper in the 1990s, but now that I’m a 30-something mom, I find her a little inconsiderate. And a little too needy. She is so ungrateful for a half-full audience at a mid-size club. Yet I would kill to play for that kind of audience.

I guess it’s all relative. I often throw myself a little pity party for all the things I don’t have (parents who live up the street, an amazing relationship with certain relatives, money to just go out and buy a Les Paul, etc.), but there are moms in Bangalore pr Beijing who would do anything to be sitting here with me in my super cozy living room, blogging about not having a Les Paul. 

It’s important to remember these things, to be humble and grateful.