|Day 195: Annie Lennox* (Sing)
October 27, 2022
"How Can I Sing Like A Girl?" They Might Be Giants once famously asked. Who wouldn't want to if you could have the pipes of Annie Lennox.
Lennox needs no praise from me, but she will get it, a bunch of it. One of the most unique musical artists of her time, she radiates passion, compassion, and intelligence with everything she touches. I will admit to being a little put off by the orange hair and the cow in the Eurythmics' break-through song "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)," but her body of work, both with Dave Stewart and solo, have been consistently great.
When she sings in the Eurythmics' "17 Again" about her "bleeding heart," she isn't using hyperbole. That heart probably bled the most on "Sing" from her 2007 solo release Songs Of Mass Destruction. "Sing," as the CD notes capture, was inspired by Nelson Mandela's claim that HIV/AIDS in Africa was genocide, to which Lennox asserts that "Sing" be "a call for the national implementation of mother to child transmission prevention programme in all the maternity hospitals in South Africa."
Her message is simple, as delivered by the hook of the chorus:
"Sing, my sister, sing/
Let your voice be heard/
What won't kill you will make you strong/
Sing, my sister, sing."
When in the first stanza Lennox announces, "you don't need to disrespect yourself again/don't hide your light behind your fears/my women can be strong/you've known it all along," she evokes the powerful message of the Eurythmics' "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" -- "this is a song to celebrate/the conscious liberation of the female state."
As with that song, where Lennox can certainly deliver this all by herself but still brought in Aretha Franklin, in this case, Lennox brings in a lot of sisters. Read the asterisk note at the bottom to see them all, but 23 other female singers join Lennox for the sisterly singing. I don't want to assume anything, but you have to wonder if personalities as strong as Celine Dion, Pink, Madonna and Fergie, alone, have ever come together without some drama. I don't care if they were all recorded across the globe, which I suspect they were, I still wonder about "hey, why is my voice drowned out by so-and-so's?"
If there was some, it doesn't stop them from letting a "voice be heard/everywhere you go/for freedom." It truly is inspiring.
This "choir of 23," as Lennox calls them, blend in, with little noticeable vocal pushing and shoving. Lennox does use Madonna's vocal for the second verse, but doesn't document it in the liner notes or make any indication of that other vocal in her official video (which shows her singing and dancing among African women and children, joy abounding). That omission, too, seems other-worldly.
Lennox has been awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a recognition she shares with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Geldof, and others. With no disrespect to those gentleman, if this Dame can get all these powerful women together to sing "for freedom," we don't need no knights (in shining armor or not). My only question is how quickly this song can be re-released before the midterm elections.
*Along with Anastacia, Angelique Kidjo, Beth Gibbons, Beth Orton, Beverley Knight, Bonnie Raitt, Celine Dion, Dido, Faith Hill, Fergie, Gladys Knight, Isobel Campbell, Joss Stone, K.D. Lang, KT Tunstall, Madonna, Martha Wainwright, Melissa Etheridge, Pink, Sarah McLachlan, Shakira, Shinghai Shoniwa, Sugarbabes, and The Generics.
"Sing." Annie Lennox. Songs Of Mass Destruction. Sony, 2007. Video link here.
Day 194: The Clash "Know Your Rights"
Day 196: They Might Be Giants "How Can I Sing Like A Girl?"
Unfinished list here.