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Come Back to Guyville

July 3rd, 2008     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

Fifteen years ago an album was released that changed my life completely.

When my parents decided to move me from my Canadian home to the southern US, I listened to that album over and over the entire drive. I was an angry, angsty grrrl and it was the perfect soundtrack. That album understood me and my burgeoning sexuality, understood my frustrations and yearnings, understood my recent realization that life was kind of a pain in the ass. That album was my first taste of celebrated female anger and empowered female sexuality (Flower, anyone?) Heck, it was my first taste of feminism and I loved it. I loved it over and over again - so much I wore the tape down and had to buy a new copy. It was an awakening.

Exile in Guyville was Liz Phair’s 1993 debut album and is largely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. From Wikipedia:

Phair wrote and recorded songs on cassette tapes, which she circulated using the moniker Girly Sound, in the early 90s in Chicago. A Girly Sound tape made it to the head of Matador Records, and they signed Phair. Phair re-recorded several of the best songs from her Girly Sound tapes as well as several new songs, and the resulting album was released in 1993, receiving widespread critical acclaim.

To celebrate the recent anniversary of the album’s release Phair has reissued it with bonus tracks, along with the inclusion of a digital documentary titled Exile Redux. The film features a badass Phair interviewing all the “original Guys of Guyville” (including my man-crush Lloyd Dobler).

Phair also recently played a a sold-out four-show tour where she performed the album straight through, start to finish, to enraptured fans. From Venus Zine:

It has long been discussed that Exile in Guyville is an album of awakening, and the audience’s emotional investment was palpable. Every fan knew every lyric, and the visceral responses were strong and steady. For 18 songs straight, the crowd was unified, exhibiting an intangible respect for both the artist herself and the audience members she had so intrinsically affected.

Exile was a musical revolution and is certainly worth a reissue and revisit. It still holds all the same meaning and gives me all the same feelings as it did fifteen years ago.

I have to ask, readers: What album was your awakening?

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