At the end of July, NPR music published an anti-list of sorts on the Top 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women, compiled by women across the industry. There's a great mixture of classics and some lesser known, covering just about everyone from Joni Mitchell to Beyonce and Carole King. The whole process was about turning the tables on the idea that lists of great music and 'best ofs' seem to be dominated by males. It was a simple yet groundbreaking statement really. Listening to Zan Rowe and Myf Warhurst chat about this in a Bang On episode recently (#bangfam) it got me thinking about the control these so called lists have over our lives and societal views on things.
For someone whose life is seemingly ruled by ‘to do lists’, 'list of books and albums to buy', ' list of things to pack for holidays' and so on, I thought about the purpose of the lists in a more holistic sense. I'm not one to number my lists in order yet so much of what we read about these days is in this rating system - 'Top 10 Songs of the Year' and 'Top Books to Read (insert year here)'. What is it about these people writing and rating things in order that we seem to just accept? How many people stop and criticise the list, disagree with the ordering. It's essentially one person (or a group of people's) opinion piece on a list of items.
Ann Powers of NPR wrote in her accompanying piece to the 150 greatest albums, that's "Lists have their limitations. It's arguable, in fact, that beyond getting the groceries, lists are fundamentally lies. They reflect unconscious biases and whispered compromises; they solidify beliefs that may seem relevant in the moment, but become incomprehensible to the next generation. They are also arguably anti-feminist. As Robin Morgan wrote in the anthology that helped define feminism's Second Wave, 1970's Sisterhood is Powerful, "The women's movement is a non-hierarchical one. It does things collectively and experimentally." In music, lists are what comes after an experiment — the experiment of listening itself, alone and then together, of sharing music and arguing about it and realizing how an artists' personal expression might be a listener's personal (and political) one too. A list says no to the possibility that any other list on the same subject might be valid. It forces authority."
This month at Rug Lane we’re about the anti list - unordered lists of things to do, to see or to listen to and so on. Taking out the order and more or less using them as guidelines rather than accepting opinions. Use them as conversation starting points. Join in our list about lists of things, whether it's holiday destinations, books by female writers or albums of the year so far - the list is infinite.
We also have the upcoming Rug Lane Vintage and Secondhand Markets in September at Rhoda which you can pre-order a ticket for now here.