One of the things that I dearly love about music is its power. No, I am not talking about the guitars turned up to ten with a Superfuzz/Big Muff Distortion Pedal crackling in your ears, although that is pretty cool. I am talking more about the power of music brings to a person’s memory. You can hear a certain song and it can be like a time travelling device sending you back to a period when you were 10, 20,30 or more years younger and it puts a smile on your face, it could bring you to tears, or just take you back to a significant event in your life.
In the spring of 1995 I was going through a particularly hard time in my life after a relationship went bad, a relationship I thought would be “the one.” I was struggling, sitting around the house with the Canadian music station on the television – Much Music. For the life of me I can’t remember why I was getting a Canadian Music Station on my TV, but it was splendid, this is where I discovered so many talented bands from the Great White North.
Then it hit me, right between the eyes. A flashy, arty typical 1990s video appears on the screen with this gorgeous redhead female singer wearing a red fur jacket singing into a vintage microphone. She was heavy on the eyeliner and easy on the eyes. The worbly guitar bounced back and forth like a buzz saw carving up a tree and the drums where like tiny bombs going off. It was, dare I say, epic. The front woman was Shirley Manson and the band was Garage. I was too blinded by her dance moves and attitude to notice that the band was full of production icons. Duke Erikson from the bands Fire Town and Spooner was playing a Fender Jazzmaster while Steve Marker was rocking a black Gibson Les Paul and on the drums, well, the one and only Butch Vig, who was also in Fire Town and Spooner. I was hooked.
I was working at a CD store at the time and looked up the band (this was before everything was at the fingertips of your computer), I couldn’t find anything. I had my boss keep his eye out for anything the band put out. Finally I got a CD single from the bands small indie label Almo Sounds and a note that their debut self-titled album would be out the following month. I knew if the album was anything like the “Vow” single, Garbage would become one of my new favorite bands.
Pink cover and a simple “G” was the cover as I got my hands on the CD and I wasn’t disappointed. The album was everything I had hoped for. They were a solid band mixing elements of rock, pop, and electronic it was perfect. I felt like this was “my band” because I was one of the first on the bandwagon, little did I know at the time, Garbage would explode into the mainstream world of rock & roll with hit after hit from this debut album.
Since then I’ve been a huge fan of Garbage, though, I am not a big fan of the band name, but that’s all nonsense anyhow. Shirley Manson is the perfect front woman for this band. I took such a liking to her I had to dig back into her past bands finding she was from Scotland and was in a band called Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie (I didn’t like them very much) and Angelfish (I liked them a whole lot better), which was the precursor to her fame in Garbage.
Over the 20 years Garbage has been around there have been several bands from their era which have come and gone, and despite a hiatus, Garbage is still one of the best bands around today. In a music industry where girls are media whores begging for attention (Yes, I am looking at you Miley and Nicki) showing off their tits or tattoos, Shirley Manson remains at the forefront as one of the best role models for women in music. She is passionate, she takes no bullshit, she isn’t afraid to show her weakness and she has one of the best voices in all the business. She is the definition of powerful.
Cheers to the nirthday girl Shirley Manson
My Ten Favorite Shirley Manson Songs
“Amends” from ‘Strange Little Birds’ (2016)
“Automatic Systematic Habit” Not Your Kind of People’ (2012)
“Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” from ‘Beautiful Garbage’ (2001)
“Control” ‘Not Your Kind of People’ (2012)
“Not My Idea” from ‘Garbage’ (1995)
“Only Happy When It Rains” from ‘Garbage’ (1995)
“Push It” from ‘Version 2.0’ (1998)
“Stoke of Luck” from ‘Garbage’ (1995)
“Suffocate Me” From ‘Anglefish’ (1994)
“Vow” from ‘Garbage’ (1995)