Ann Friedman - Mother Music comforts me

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Ann Friedman Weekly
A packed set of shelves in a record store display the album covers of 5 rows of LPs

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
NOTE: I'm on vacation until June, so you're getting a series of thematic editions of this newsletter, written by my past and current writing fellows. Today's is brought to you by Nereya Otieno. Enjoy!

Here's Nereya... -AF

This week

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Music comforts me. It helps me to unearth emotions, navigate follies, celebrate triumphs, empathize with strangers, have company on long travels, keep time. Sometimes it massages my heart from the inside, making it beat more confidently with less effort. A most powerful sort of sorcery. Human life without music—even just the concept of music—is something wholly terrifying for me to imagine. It would be bleak: no concept of resonant beauty, void of any sense of vitality (likely also virility). A world of hollow people, feeling without depth and walking around in a crazed manner with gaits ungoverned by any sense of internal rhythm. Luckily, that’s not the world we live in. 

While I have the keys to Ann’s newsletter queendom, I’ll hone in on music-related content. Offer a bit of gratitude to my heart’s masseuse. Below are some corners of the internet that have enlightened me to the import of music, its versatility as a tool of humanity, the good it deposits in the richness of our lives. I hope, as you read or after, you play yourself a little something that makes you feel even more like yourself.

-Nereya Otieno

I'm re-reading

Nabil Ayers on the importance of the guitar solo. "It's a moment of risk for the player, a demonstrative attempt to connect sonically, physically and emotionally with the audience—even if only for a moment."


James Baldwin’s beautiful short story "Sonny’s Blues" [head's up, it's a PDF] about siblings and jazz and the instruments that make up our lives. "I had never before thought of how awful the relationship must be between the musician and his instrument. He has to fill it, this instrument, with the breath of life, his own. He had to make it do what he wants it to do. And a piano is just a piano. It's made out of so much wood and wires and little hammers and big ones, and ivory. While there's only so much you can do with it, the only way to find this out is to try; to try and make it do everything."

Two reports from 2017: This one from Pitchfork outlining how countries around the world fund music and how the US just... well... doesn’t. And this one from Helicon Collaborative that analyzes equity issues in cultural anthropology — less than 5% of total U.S. arts funding goes to low income, rural or communities of color. Which means more than 95% goes to relatively affluent, well-connected, white communities. Wowzer. 


A midwestern love-filled interview with Eric Timothy Carlson on designing Bon Iver’s album 22, A Million and the interplay of aural and visual, the detailed intention of creating a narrative visual representation of sound. I have the symbol for track three, "715 (Cr𝛴𝛴ks)," tattooed on my arm.


A heart-wrenching essay by Amy Key on how her intimate, persistent relationship with Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, and the ways love has passed her by while she’s been obsessed with it. "When I sing 'A Case of You', there is no one I situate in it, but I do ask myself who and what might form part of what 'pours out of me in these lines from time to time'. Absence of romantic love is part of how I manifest in the world whether I want that or not, and I realise I am at war with this idea. I can’t hold the lines that I am trying to sell myself, that the platonic love I have never lacked makes up for, or transcends, the lack of romantic love."


Reflections on Bill Withers' 1972 Live at Carnegie Hall album and how to pair it with peach cobbler. Full disclosure: It's the first installment of my own monthly newsletter Tasting. Notes. Subscribe here

Pie chart
What songs with "pie" in the title are actually about: 50% Vagina, 15% No discernible theme; 10% Possibly wholesome love interest; 10% Independent success; 8% Odd Americana homage; 1% Edible, circular, with crust

Hitting the Pie Note

Some referential examples:

  • Vaginas: Kenny Chesney, “Key Lime Pie;” Megan Thee Stallion & Dua Lipa, “Sweetest Pie;” Led Zeppelin, “Custard Pie;” Warrant, “Cherry Pie;” Motley Crüe, “Slice of Your Pie”
  • Independent success: Travis Scott, “Apple Pie;” Oasis, “Magic Pie” 
  • Possibly wholesome love interest: The Four Tops, “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch;” James Taylor, “Sweet Potato Pie;” The Beatles, “Honey Pie;” Jay and the Techniques, “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie;” Destiny’s Child, “Apple Pie à la Mode” 
  • Greed: D’Angelo, “Devil's Pie”
  • Odd Americana Homage: Don McLean/Madonna, “American Pie;” Bob Dylan, “Country Pie”
  • Edible, circular, with crust: Neil Diamond, “Porcupine Pie” [unappealing pie]
  • No discernible theme: Stone Temple Pilots, “Piece of Pie;” Paul McCartney, “Flaming Pie;” The Beatles, “Wild Honey Pie” 

Paying members are actual angels among us whose financial support enables Ann to take time off AND compensate up-and-coming writers to take over this newsletter. Win-win. Click here to join them for just $15/year.

I’m looking & listening
SOMSIREN, a weekly-updated playlist that never fails to fit my chill mood and introduce me to a new artist I will surely use to increase my cool-clout. A lecture Nick Cave gave in Italy in the early 90s on The Secret Life of Love Songs. B.B. King introducing Etta James and Dr. John singing “I’d Rather Go Blind” in 1987. Feel free to stare unblinkingly at your screen with mouth agape while hugging yourself like I do. These digital resources from Future Female Sounds for women and non-binary DJs, including a digital roadmap to greater equality.

A moment
A line drawing of a woman in a robe holding a baby. It says "You better inherit my music taste."

To all the cool parental figures out there, we thank you.

I endorse
  1. I highly encourage you to click on the Surprise Me link on the top left. I never noticed it until Ann told me I needed to give her a link for it and now I am going through the archives and clicking away!
  2. If you read those two reports from 2017 linked above, you’ll know that music funding in the U.S. is going the way of the dodo. For the past two years, I have been working hard with my friend Ben Rafson to launch a nonprofit grant system for young American musicians. It’s called The Rising Artist Foundation (I talked a bit about it in my CYG episode). We’ve now announced our first grant opportunity, OVERTONES, in partnership with artist Nicolás Jaar and his label Other People. We’re giving eight L.A.-based electronic musicians the opportunity for two months of paid (over $4k) creative instruction from Nicolás and music industry education from special guests. Today is the LAST DAY TO APPLY! If you are between the ages of 18-32, living in the greater L.A. area, preferably from an underrepresented background and have already made a few songs we can listen to; apply here. If you’re not those things but know people who are, please tell them about it! They have until 23:59 PST!

What are you listening to?
My newsletter is a musing on food and music and the ways they intersect. What are some songs, artists, albums, sounds you would like for me to write about and make a food pairing with? Email me at

The Classifieds

I’ve got just the thing for your spring wardrobe refresh. Wearwell makes it easy to shop sustainable and ethically-made clothing, accessories, home goods, secondhand, and more. This month, my readers get 20% off their first purchase plus free shipping with code ANNWEEKLY.
Can’t decide what to watch next? You’re not alone! Cozy Ripples is a weekly newsletter featuring recommendations by women, for women, of TV shows and movies they love. Each week brings you something different, so you’ll never get bored. Subscribe now to start watching something fabulous!
Find your new favorite song and more books to add to your stack in Notes From Erin. It’s the weekly newsletter you wish your best friend would write.

our mind is a magic wand. Want to banish self-doubt & conjure self-trust? Listen to this ep of Mind Witchery & discover a new fave feminist podcast.

Want a weekly satirical horoscope? Subscribe to Yesterday’s Horoscope, for scathing cosmic commentary about the unseemly choices of one Virgo.

Want to see more movies made by women? Try Thelma & Alice, a newsletter to help you find and watch female filmmakers.

I'm away but the ad store is always open. Click for rates and info.

"I heartily endorse Nereya and all of her writing and work. Do yourself a favor and click through! And stay tuned for another guest-written edition next week." -Ann. [Whoa, see what I did there? I love to be the one leaving the testimonial!]

This newsletter is a demonstrative attempt to connect sonically, physically and emotionally with an audience.

Forward it to someone you’d start a band with.

Ann Friedman

Manage Preferences | Unsubscribe | Ladyswagger, Inc.
PO Box 26932 | Los Angeles, CA 90026
© 2022

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