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Rolling Stone anniversary issue salutes women Singers: A long narrative and 28 separate interviews explore the popularity of female rockers.


"Women of Rock," the 30th-anniversary issue of Rolling Stone, is well written and full of great photography. It's also a thick chunk of slickness, with a long, all-inclusive narrative by Gerri Hirshey about the historical evolution of female singers as well as separate interviews with 28 of them.

Is the conception a little dated? Jann Wenner portrays the issue as a nod to the popular surge of Fiona Apple and Jewel in what has repeatedly been called a male-dominated genre. "The major music story of 1997 was the rise of women artists," he writes in his Letter from the Editor. But after decades of people like Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Courtney Love, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Natalie Merchant, Grace Slick, Sinead O'Connor and Liz Phair, to name only a few, are there still a lot of fans who think of rock as strictly the boy's locker room?

Nonetheless, there's an abundance of strong material and entertaining quotes among the interviews. K.d. lang describes her fantasy girl group: "Joan of Arc, Chrissie Hynde, Mother Teresa, Yoko Ono, and Martha Stewart. She's so funny." Liz Phair talks about demands on her appearance as a woman in rock: "I do feel that I should be not repulsive." Me'Shell Ndegeocello details the career advantages of being a woman: "We get the Women in Rock issue." And just about everyone has big praise for the work of Joni Mitchell, the woman in rock whom an overtly sexist Rolling Stone once labeled Old Lady of the Year alongside a chart of her high-profile love affairs.

Courtney Love walks away with the best lines. Her Hollywood-style makeover -- a Madonna-styled image shift -- has brought her worlds away from her former sloppy look. But she's still the same Hole head who was assaulting a Bikini Kill singer only two years ago. Asked about it's being "different for girls" in rock, she says: "Who says that? Does Jann Wenner say that? That question lessens me and makes me defensive." About performing, she says, "This has never been about being butch for me. I can be as much of a woman as I want, and bring as much elegance and grace and sexuality from my womanhood to this form. I do not need to emulate this other gender."

Praising the nanny

The New Yorker for Nov. 10 has an engaging but oddly timed literary piece by Stacy Schiff about the virtues of "the nanny, the babysitter, the au pair, the child-care provider, the nonbiological caregiver." Called "The Runaway Mother," it dips in and out of children's literature and celebrates the adventures a child experiences with the sitter without even a mention of the Woodward case. The mother/nanny relationship, she writes, "is not always pure enchantment."

Opinions from Stone

You can generally count on Movieline for some less-than-glossy Hollywood copy. The November issue has Part 2 of its Oliver Stone interview.

Stone has mixed feelings about the critics, but not about influential former New Yorker critic Pauline Kael: "She was just an elitist bag lady. She was good with words, but so what?"

He recalls Brad Davis, the late actor who had a hit with "Midnight Express," which Stone wrote: "Next thing you know he was a big superstar and he couldn't be approached at parties -- he'd be in his corner with his entourage; doing his coke out in the limousine. Then years later, his agent brought him in for something, and he was a very bitter young man." And Stone admits to hurt feelings from press comments by Meg Ryan, Daryl Hannah, Joe Pesci, and Gore Vidal, about whom he says: "Gore has never written a good movie. He's at best a fair novelist. So he's probably jealous."

Pub Date: 11/09/97

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