Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Transgendered Artists: Baby Dee and Antony

I can't say that I know a whole lot about either of these artists.  My experience with Antony is restricted to his album, "I Am A Bird Now" (Antony and the Johnsons) and the Fresh Air interview I heard on NRP a couple of months ago, which peeked my interest enough to go down to Vertigo and buy the perviously mentioned album.  My experience with Baby Dee is even spottier.  I saw her live in concert during Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Music, and have yet to track down one of her albums.  

Despite my lack of exposure with these two artists they have me charged up with excitement.   As transgendered individuals Antony and Baby Dee offer us their somewhat different perspective into the human experience.  

Antony and the Johnson's work in "I Am A Bird Now" gives lightly veiled peeks into the reality of a transgendered person.  Several of his songs show glimpses of the somewhat divided experiences of Antony's female perspective and male perspective.  His songs expand and re-invent classic themes, such as the idea of a coming of age, however that theme is given a complete overhaul as Antony is able to speak of both becoming an adult and becoming the person of the gender he believes himself to be, but is not currently.  He also sings of shame and guilt and asks "forgive me, let live me" and whether that petition is meant to be directed to himself or to those Antony comes into contact with is unclear.  The songs are not all melancholy and not all the songs deal directly with Antony's identity as a transgendered person.  Regardless of the gender of the artist the songs speak to the listeners in that we all have experiences of coming of age, doubt, pain, guilt, love, confusion, and joy.  

I haven't heard much from Baby Dee, but what I did hear I loved.  My personal favorite was a song sung from the perspective of a Grizzly Bear who had a "thing" for Mormon underwear.  The song's conclusion is that being a grizzly bear who loves Mormon underwear isn't all that big of a deal.  "So what" is the sentiment Baby Dee gets across in this song and "So what" was the view I walked away with.  So Baby Dee is different, so what.  She, like me, and everyone else is looking for the same kind of things from life, whether that is romance, a place in a church congregation, or a field to lay down in and appreciate the songs of the birds. 

It's enough to get this straight male's head spinning.  As it turns out transgendered people are in fact just people.  Apparently Baby Dee, Antony, my mom, Mr Rogers, Tom, Joe, and Susie are all pretty much on the same page when it comes to life.  Huh, imagine that?  

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