Andrea Gibson: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Andrea Gibson: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Spoken word poet Andrea Gibson is out with a new album on January 12 titled Hey Galaxy, a work that deals with the world in the wake of the 2016 election, plus LGBTQA issues such as the Pulse nightclub massacre.

To herald the release of their record, the poet put together a list of albums that changed their life.

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Joni Mitchell, Blue

I blame Joni Mitchell’s Blue for the fact that I can’t go a week without writing a love poem. Even when I’m single. ‘I could drink a case of you, darling, and still be on my feet.’ That line alone had me decades praying the world would get its shit together just so I could stop writing political poems and spend the rest of my days writing about love.

Blue is lyrically stunning, and gorgeous in its transparency, as if Mitchell opened her journal and simply started singing the words.

Years after hearing this album for the first time, I was at a concert of hers where people started leaving upon realizing she could no longer hit the high notes she was famous for. I was frantically enraged. I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which I’d walk out on Joni Mitchell’s lyrics, no matter the octave they were sung in.

 Nina Simone, ‘Nuff Said

This album, most of which was recorded live three days after the murder of Dr. King, is one of the most impassioned and emotionally moving pieces of political art I’ve ever experienced.

From ‘Why? (The King of Love is Dead),’ a gut-wrenching celebration of the life of Dr. King written a day after his death and finished just hours before this performance, to ‘Mississippi Goddam,’ the album is as socially powerful as it is personally vulnerable and is the music I return to whenever I need a reminder that art can change the world. And that’s not even to mention the record’s hit song, ‘Ain’t Got No, I Got Life,’ which I will eternally argue is the most inspiring song in the history of songs. Period.

Ani Difranco, Not a Pretty Girl

I was in the closet attending a Catholic college, still calling myself a Republican, when my soon-to-be first girlfriend sent me this album. Needless to say, it was the end of me identifying as a Republican, or straight, and it was the very, very end of me trying to be a pretty girl.

This record was my first introduction to feminism. It gave me permission to be who I was and to reject anything that wanted me to be someone I was not. While speaking to patriarchy, capitalism and heteronormativity, I was hypnotized by the wild and fearless universe that lived in Ani Difranco’s guitar. I’d never heard a sound like her’s before, and haven’t since.

Meg Hutchinson, Come up Full

Although I imagine a lot of people haven’t heard of Meg Hutchinson, this tender and beautiful folk album was a precious gift to me during a time I couldn’t have needed it more. I was in a brutal place in my life, battling daily with my mental health and struggling to want to stay alive. Prior to Come up Full, I’d not heard an album that spoke so directly to mental illness, and the light one might find along the path of healing.

Each song on this record shook me from my solitude, and released me from the suffocating story that I was alone in my experience. This album was the spark that I needed to keep going and was also what dared me into finding my own voice on topics of depression, PTSD and suicidality.

Salt-N-Pepa, Very Necessary

‘Opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one’ and it’s my opinion that this album is goddamn holy, for countless reasons, one being it was the first album I ever heard that I had to dance to. I mean, HAD TO DANCE TO.

Sex positive, sex-educational, women-empowering and lyrically spectacular, Very Necessary is still the reason I write a poem that doesn’t rhyme and can’t help but feel like it’s a poem with its heart cut out.

This album is so masterful, so fun, so good, no matter how queer I get, I cannot keep myself from hollering along to the words, ‘Girls, what’s my weakness? Men!’

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