Lyrics Are Poems Put to Music: Part One

As Women's History Month winds down and National Poetry Month starts, I thought this would be a good time to look at some important women in music, or more like women in music whose lyrics influence and inspire me.

These women paved roads, ruined hearts and broke down walls. Their lyrics and music speak of passion, anger, rage and love. They sang the soundtracks to some of my happiest and hardest moments.

Tracy Chapman's smooth voice and folky sound, in her 1988 self-titled debut album, sang about wanting more out of life and how easy it was to repeat the mistakes of others. Her album Crossroads has my favorite song of hers, "Born to Fight," which includes powerful lyrics that got me through many rough moments.

Ani DiFranco refuses to be labeled. Sometimes folk, sometimes funk, but always outspoken, her hard playing, guitar-driven songs about defying norms and expectations demand to be heard. Although her lyrics make her out to be larger than life, she is the first to admit she is only human. I can't name a favorite with her as different songs have spoken louder to me at different times.


Joan Jett, guitarist in the first all-girls punk band The Runaways and lead vocalist of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, helped pave the way for women in rock. She showed that women rock just as hard as men.

I'm not done yet! Watch the video of my favorite Tracy Chapman song and Joan Jett and the Heartbreakers' famous "I Love Rock and Roll" to hold you over until part two.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library