To mark the much-beloved duo’s 30th anniversary, we wanted to say “thank you” to Amy and Emily for everything they have given us over the years …the art and the activism, the influences and the inspirations.Some are more than just sweet melodies or sellable entertainment products.
In short, the fans were out of their fucking minds. I had no idea then that the pain of an unlived life was dropping me to my knees in the not-so-clean stall in the women’s room in the Paradise Rock Club. I was becoming one of the singing-along-out-loud fans.The scene that night was like the black and white footage of girls screaming for the Beatles in 1964. I went and saw them play again at the 1991 Newport Folk Festival. The record had thrown off a smash radio hit, “Closer to Fine.” The Indigo Girls became Newport headliners the summer I celebrated my first year of sobriety. What I do remember was the absolute joy I felt watching them with a full band, brilliantly and confidently take over the entire universe, as the rain came crashing down and rivers of water raced down the hill, magically splitting along both sides of my little island of safety. There were screaming, crying, lyric-shouting women as far as the eye could see and, this time, it made me smile.The alchemy evoked a buried self I had not yet met, the future songwriter in me, entombed in a personal Pompeii, frozen under layers of active addiction. Women who did not (or could not) abide the compulsory rules of gender — the sexualized female appearance tailored to the male gaze — didn’t stand a chance in the real music business, right? Made peace with 1 Corinthians : “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. I went to Tower Records and bought the record, Soon after, I went to see them perform at the Paradise, a Boston rock club. I was a few months clean and sober, and what I saw that night made me dizzy, weak, and queasy.When the song ended, I turned off the radio, clenched the steering wheel, laid my head down, closed my eyes, and cried. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” I was a restaurateur now, a businesswoman, and a CEO. The mostly female audience was screaming the singers’ names, while crying and shouting the words to the songs, as the two women on stage sang smiling, delighting in the raucous, carnival-like excitement. Gone was the upset in my gut, the confusing angst, even though the heightened emotions in the women in the audience at Fort Adams State Park was like the Paradise Rock Club times 10,000.They carry emotional truths that burn through time and space, touching something eternal.
The songs of the Indigo Girls pointed me home to me, when I needed it most — a date with destiny, a divine decree.
Imagine my surprise when I moved to Boston in my early 20s and heard the Indigo Girls for the first time on WUMB college radio. Though I did not know it consciously, a part of me understood: Those voices were gay women from the South, like me. The harmonies peeled back layers of scar tissue at my center, exposing a longing in me that I could not name. I’d spent the last decade subconsciously flirting with death. I was hoping to succeed my way out of the feeling of being lost.
There was SOMETHING THERE for me, personally — a brand new, yet deeply familiar sound. I parked my black Toyota restaurant truck in the driveway, turned the radio up loud, sat there stunned, and listened as the song played out. What was this, some kind of cosmic lesbian musical sorcery? The song coming out of the radio was called “Strange Fire.” Hearing it for the first time in my truck that evening literally hurt. I lived with a gaping hole in the center of my being that I poured booze and dope and romance and success and any other thing I could jam in there to deaden the pain, the sadness of an unlived life. Somehow, the sound of that song on the radio saw me and called to me, but I couldn’t understand what it was telling me about myself.
By being authentic, Amy and Emily have pointed millions of other people home, as well.
Damn near everyone I know (straight and gay) has an Indigo Girls positive impact story.
usually not the ones who wrote the music,” Carlile said in a statement.