Welcome to Blessing All the Birds, a feminist fan project focused on the work of songwriter Joanna Newsom. We see Newsom's work as feminist literature and our goal is to provide it the serious critical analysis it deserves, as well as to discuss her unique place in popular culture.
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Posts tagged "Blessing All the Birds"

Rachel is leaving Blessing All the Birds, the blog she started with this fabulous post—a post which opened my eyes to the possibility of seriously writing about Joanna’s music and her media image and which allowed me to form wonderful friendships and correspondences with so many on tumblr. Rachel, in particular, has become an amazing friend and I am constantly in awe of her intellect, her heart, and her passion. She was gracious enough to invite me to the blog over two years now and I cannot thank her enough for the opportunity and for her continued support. 

I, Melissa (the one who usually gets this blog into trouble), am not leaving, even though I will always feel a pang of regret and disappointment that things have turned out like this. To to be frank and open concerning my feelings about all this, the person I am is that I have always been a polarizing figure, so continuing to write on this blog to a vocally and united hostile audience is really nothing new to me (although people hating my blog so viscerally does, of course, affect me deeply). There are people who love what we write on Blessing All the Birds and yet, I admit it’s becoming harder to be uplifted by them. I do not understand how this became so personal and I do not understand how people expect me to sever feminism from its political context. A rampant and inveterate criticism of the blog has actually always been that we are feminist and that “it’s just about the songs, stop boring us with your wider analysis and your politics.” And that, honestly, is pure, unadulterated malarky. Everything we do, every move our bodies make is politicized. Literature has to be liberated from the ivory tower and exposed as political. When Joanna literarily sings of abortion, that is inherently politicized and that’s important. 

There are absolutely things I have said on here that I regret and am mortified by (for example, I used to sincerely think only women had uteruses, which is not at all the case), but what was said the other day does not embarrass me in the least. I firmly believe that no one is free from kyriarchy (an intersecting system of oppressions like racism, cissexism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, etc.) and that it deeply and complexly affects all our interpretations of everything and that it creates abortion stigma, which is something we every day have to strive to unlearn. I just wanted to call attention to that system and show how although we are autonomous and free to interpret a song however we want, we are constrained and that that constraint is so deeply saddening and dangerous and that that constraint is what I fight against every day as I think and practice feminism. The post was an attack on the system which frames all of us, including Joanna’s corpus. It is a political question and concern that was not a personal attack in any way. But, of course, how can people not take politics personally? For me now, I am taking criticism of us to heart because what is said about our words is often in no way political. And that hurts very personally. No one is under any obligation to respond to us politically, but it would make me feel less sad. 

More generally, the problem with the Internet is that online debate has a problematic and dangerous anonymity and no matter how much Rachel and I have tried to personalize ourselves, it has done little to help. When I “debate” with somebody on here, I do not know anything about their beliefs, their ethics, their values, their age, their geography. That is a depersonalization I have always been uncomfortable with about this blog, but I always have opted to just say what I wanted to say because otherwise nothing will have been said. I do not know most of you and you do not know me. It’s imperative to remember that you do not know me. 

On a more positive note, I cannot wait for Joanna to release new material. Hopefully when new songs are released, there will be more submissions to the blog and shared discourse. I love this blog and I am proud of how it has helped me even more deeply appreciate Joanna’s music and I cannot wait to experience new Joanna and new feminist analyses with all of you. To the future!  

Hey other people in the Joanna fanworld,

Rachel here. I just read over some of the stuff that’s gone in the past few days after Melissa’s most recent post. Here’s what I want to say and I hope you will read it.

I started this blog a long while ago because I wanted to talk about Joanna Newsom’s music with other fans and I wanted to talk about it seriously. I wanted to talk about the way her music makes me feel personally and I wanted to talk about the way she approaches topics that really interest me, like femininity and women’s sexuality and love and death and the pain of existing within the limits of the human body. I started it because I wanted there to be a place to organize those types of song interpretations and maybe encourage some discussion (this was before I knew that such a place already existed- the milkymoon forums).

I’m sad because it didn’t really become that. Instead, it’s become a wedge between fans of Joanna’s music and it’s become personal. People think that the things we post are directed at them specifically.

I don’t want people I don’t know to harbour anger or hate towards me or something I’m involved in. I’m just not interested in arguing or defending. It’s just not who I am and it’s not how I want to be known in this fan community or in any community I am involved in.

There are some posts I am incredibly proud of on this blog and I’m thankful that it has allowed me the opportunity to hear from other fans who think about Joanna’s music the way that I do.

With that, I am letting Blessing All the Birds go.

Thanks for reading and commenting and contributing and encouraging.

Rachel :)

Where did you get the name for this blog? I keep thinking it's a specific Joanna lyric reference but it keeps escaping me! Thanks <3
allthebirds allthebirds Said:

Hello! Rachel titled our blog after lyrics from an earlier version of “Only Skin” called, “Be a Woman.”

Blessing all the birds that died so I could live!
Be a woman, be a woman!

Really great stuff, don’t you think? Listen to it here.

Everyone can find out more about our blog in the “About” section on the main page. We also have bios for me and Rachel and links for the main topics and themes we explore.

Hi, all! I’m back after a long two weeks of intense studying and paper-ing and this officially marks my first post as a temporary solo-blogger for Blessing All the Birds. As Rachel said previously, we have some posts lined up from readers for the summer, but I would still love to have even more submissions, comments, and responses from all our readers. We adore submissions and yes, we really publish every one we receive.

I was also wondering if maybe some of you had suggestions/thoughts for what you would like me to write about this summer or what topics you would want explored more on the blog. I have a ton of ideas for posts, but I would love more interaction from our community. What Joanna-Newsom-feminist issues are scuttling through your brains? What songs do you think are heinously ignored on the Blessing All the Birds? What posts did you like and would want to see polished or elaborated on more? What posts/themes do you think could be tied together? Please check out our archive or do a search to see our corpus of thoughts and articles.

—Melissa

36 plays

Be A Woman - Joanna Newsom via bowsandbrogues

The title of this blog comes from Joanna’s early version of “Be A Woman”, which she later worked into “Only Skin”. It’s absolutely beautiful. When I originally heard this, I thought the sound at the beginning was falling rain, which I think makes it seem all the more haunting. I particularly like the way, towards the end, that she seems to be forcing out the line “Be a woman! Be a woman!”, as though she’s pleading with herself for strength. I’m not sure whether this was intentional.