Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Ani DiFranco bridges a gulf
Vail, CO, Colorado
Ani DiFranco attracts a little different crowd.
Friend Shauna was astounded to hear the old dude was a fan. (That would be … me.) At least that’s what colleague Mark relayed.
Well, sure. What’s not to love about Ani? Smart, soulful and she goes right there in her songwriting.
The stereotype is you need to be a young liberal woman, ideally lesbian, to really get her. Maybe so. I wouldn’t know. It could be, too, that she’s not just a songwriter but a poet, not just a singer but good on the guitar, not just political but pours her soul into making a point. Not just a performer but an artist.
Besides, I tend to like lesbians. I don’t mean sexuality. That’s their business, not mine.
I mean mindset — a little hardened, edgy, questing, unbound by the terms of normalcy set by we muggles. These ladies have guts atop all that, and the ones I know are to a person intelligent and interesting, good people too.
Never mind that Ani is a married ol’ woman of nearly 40 now, with a toddler daughter and husband and career that has her playing places like the Vilar these days. She’s come a long way from striking out on her own at age 15 in the big, big city.
The secret is out. The girl couples have to share her now. The righteous babe cannot be contained. Even old dudes like her, too. I was far from the only one at her recent Vilar concert.
I was struck by how friendly she was on stage, with an undertone of shyness. She’s a star, but worked at wooing the audience. It seemed important that we like her beyond the performance, and the performance was pretty awesome, actually.
And then there’s this one song. It’s about the person you just know is perfect for you, only they’re so obviously, painfully perfect with someone else and they don’t even notice you.
The punch line she sang in the Vilar I can’t put in the paper. Let’s just say it ends with the word “you.”
The way she uses the phrase, it’s not crude, just real. And not just real, but exactly right.
Damn. So many of her songs go like that. I have no musical talent or instinct for performance, which frees me to just enjoy those who do. But my job requires I dabble with words, so I have some feeling for the process and the pain of trying to fit these things together so they make sense.
Ani just blows me away with her lyrics. We don’t share lifestyles, political views and probably couldn’t be more opposite of people.
But strip away the rest of it and her words somehow bridge the galaxy between us. Oh, she can sing and play, too.
Of course I’m a fan. Duh!