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Ani DiFranco readies for Tarrytown show
Singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco may live in New Orleans these days, but she does return to the Hudson Valley with regularity, as evidenced by her appearances at the Clearwater Festival in Croton and tonight's show at Tarrytown Music Hall.
I chatted with the congenial, charming songwriter prior to her apperance at this year's Clearwater Fest, and the interview generated many interesting quotes — perhaps too many for the original story that ran in June. I went back to the tape to snag some more interesting musings from one of the most respected singer-songwriters in indie music.
Newsday Westchester: You collaborated with Mount Kisco native Dar Williams on a phenomenal cover of “Comfortably Numb.” What do you remember most about collaborating with her?
Ani DiFranco: “Dar is someone I met a long time ago in the folk wilderness, but that little recording, I wasn’t even in the same room with her. She just asked me to sing on that track, and I did so, in my own apartment, in New Orleans. It was a disembodied collaboration.”
To me it seems like there’s been somewhat of a void of feminist artists among mainstream acts in the post-Lilith Fair era. As a feminist icon, do you feel like feminism is well-represented in today’s music scene?
“I don’t know enough about today’s music scene, I’ll tell you what. As you can hear, I have a 5-year-old, and that’s what I know about. So, I’m a little out of touch. I don’t know if I ever could comment on whatever pop culture — I sort of live in my own world, in general. But, I think [regarding] feminism, it’s the 21st century. I’m hoping that we think of it as not just the work of women anymore, anyway, that we see it as a tool by which we can dismantle patriarchy, which hurts all of us, men and women, together. ..."
Have you ever regretted not accepting a big payout through a major-label record deal?
“I used to struggle with it all the time, back when I was struggling, which was a lot of years. … But now I’m the hero of the universe, and I have enough. And I still have a career, my audience is sort of not based on a radio moment or a video, it’s based on that sort of long, slow, touring live music relationship. It’s real, it’s lasting, and I feel lucky.”
Have you ever weighed in on your fans' various interpretations of your music?
“I don’t read stuff about me. I just don’t. I don’t know what people say on that level, because it’s too claustrophobic for me to have that in my consciousness. … [It’s a] media blackout for me, that’s mental bliss. Seriously. I was on tour with Bob Dylan for a few different stints, and I said something about him in an interview, then I heard from his management that Bob was upset about — I’m like, ‘What? It’s Bob Dylan; why is he reading about himself?’ No wonder he’s gone completely mad.”
What inspires you to keep touring, recording and playing, almost 25 years after you launched your own record company?
“It’s a great [freakin’] job, which can’t be denied, you know? So, there’s that. And I really do just still get off on connecting with people, being up on stage, and trying to make myself completely transparent. ... But, still, it’s a struggle to remain inspired, just like anybody. I’ve written 200 and some songs, and these days, I sit down and I’m like, ‘OK, so what now?’ I do feel like I’m searching a little bit these days for new things to write about, or at least a new way to write about an old thing.”
What do you hope your legacy is?
“Look, she got away with it, why can’t I?”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14
Info: Tarrytown Music Hall, 13 Main St., Tarrytown; tarrytownmusichall.org; $40-$75