Maryann's Top 5 Songs About Burgeoning Female Adolescent Sexuality


Rude!  Why only female?  Because a) that's what I am, so I tend to relate to more music that's about the ladeez, and b) the well is so, so much deeper for angsty adolescent female sexuality music because thanks to our often misogynistic American culture, it sucks much harder to be a girl growing up than a boy.  There's research.  Look it up.  Not to say boys don't have things they have to put up with, but come on: I think whichever sex has to adjust to dealing with a murder scene in their underwear for a week every month wins hand down, OK?

I know you might expect to see more artists like Ani DiFranco, Tori Amos, or Liz Phair on this list, but I personally associate those awesome ladies with a little more adult female sexuality--like college and beyond.  In general.  But if they've written kick-ass SABFAS, leave 'em in the comments and educate me.

5) "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian

I learned the truth at seventeen
that love was meant for beauty queens
and high school girls with clear-skinned smiles
who married young and then retired
the valentines I never knew
the Friday night charades of youth
were spent on more beautiful
at seventeen I learned the truth...

And those of us with ravaged faces
lacking in the social graces
desperately remained at home
inventing lovers on the phone
who called to say "come dance with me"
and murmured vague obscenities
it isn't all it seems at seventeen

I can't leave this gem out!  Obviously 17 is a little past 'burgeoning' per se, but I think this song is important to the list because it addresses when one's expectations of adolescence are not met.

4) "The Art Teacher" by Rufus Wainwright

there I was in uniform
looking at the art teacher
I was just a girl then
never have I loved since then

he was not that much older than I was
he had taken our class to the Metropolitan Museum
he aced us what our favorite work of art was
but never could I tell him--
oh, I wish I could have told him

Who doesn't love Rufus Wainwright?  So talented and a matchless voice.  I know what you might be thinking, "A guy on a list about female sexuality?  You've been compromised by the Patriarchy, Maryann!"  But then you listen to this song and you're like, "Yep.  It belongs here."  Everyone had crushes on teachers!  Or at least I did.  Hell, I had crushes on all kinds of authority figures, from orthodontists to camp counselors to...we'll stop there for now.

3) "How Does the Wine Taste?" by Barbra Streisand

how does the wine taste?
does it sting your lips?
what is the fruit like just beyond my fingertips?
just out of reach I see so much
I cannot taste, I mustn't touch
tied to my little world
my safe little world

what would it be like if I broke the string?
would it be lovely and a little frightening?
there is so much I've never understood
how does the wine taste, is it good?

how does does the wine taste?
does it make you glow?
how does the wine taste?
I think I know

I mean, just read those lyrics.  Damn.  Damn.  Enough said.

2) "Rumble Doll" by Patti Scialfa

Now some girls are just born lucky
yeah they're lucky that's for sure
well in my soul I never felt that clean though I
though I know my heart is pure
sometimes I feel like I know too much and
sometimes I feel like I don't know nothing at all

The first time I eve heard this song it was inside another song: SONGCEPTION.  It was actually from the DVD of Bruce Springsteen's New York City Concert from 2000, because if you didn't know, Patti is married to Bruce, and a member of the E Street Band.  During the song "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" Bruce does this massive interlude with introductions for each member of the band.  It's terrific.  And when he's gets to Patti, he sings some of his song "Red-Headed Woman" to make her laugh, and then yells, "Come on!" She then launches into the intro of "Rumble Doll" and when I heard it, I was like, "What IS that?  I love it!"  Some lyrics googling later, I found it, the title song from her 1993 album.

Anyway, I'm not sure why I associate it with adolescence more than adulthood, except for the lyrics I posted.  Feeling like you know too much and then nothing at all--well, that sums it up, really, doesn't it?

1) "Boys in the Trees" by Carly Simon

I'm home again in my old narrow bed
where I grew tall and my feet hung over the end
the low beam room with the window looking out
on the soft summer garden
where the boys grew in the trees

here I grew guilty
and no one was at fault
frightened by the power in every innocent thought
and the silent understanding passing down
from daughter to daughter
let the boys grow in the trees

do you go to them or do you let them come to you
do you stand in back afraid that you'll intrude
deny yourself and hope someone will see
and live like a flower
while the boys grow in the trees

last night I slept in sheets the color of fire
tonight I lie alone again and I curse my own desire
sentenced first to burn and then to freeze
and watch by the window
where the boys grew in the trees
the boys grew in the trees

I really think this is my favorite Carly song (with "Coming Around Again" and "Let the River Run" coming in as close seconds).  As you might imagine, this song inspired the rest of this top 5.  I don't know how much this relates to other girls' experiences growing up, but man oh man, for me and my experience there is a blaze of truth in every word.  'Do you go to them or do you let them come to you...deny yourself and hope someone will see.'  Carly, you've said a mouthful.  Especially for those of us who grew up Christian!  Or maybe that's just me.

Honorable Mention: every acoustic cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

What are your favorite SABFAS?  Or your favorite Songs About Burgeoning Male Adolescent Sexuality?  What have I completely overlooked and will kick myself later for leaving out?


Allie said...

"The Art Teacher" has become one of my new favorite songs. It's so so so beautiful. I love that he wrote it from a female perspective.

Linda said...

This song doesn't fit the category of 'burgeoning female adolescent sexuality" at all, but it jumped into my mind because it does touch on young love and I wanted to be sure you have heard it simply because it is so amazing.

It's called "Mexican Boyfriend" by Shivaree, who is most known for the song "Goodnight Moon," but they have a lot of great lesser known songs.

Maryann said...

Oh. my. word. Linda! This song is from another world.

My first cigarette and my first pill
My first cup of coffee and my first chill
Now you'll never know my first kiss
Somebody else will

DAMN! I think it does have to do with female burgeoning adolescent sexuality! Thank you for sharing.