Nobody has ever sexually assaulted or harassed me. Except for the occasional cat call or wolf whistle.
And the closest I've come to an exposed uninvited p***s was on the NYC subway on my way to my piano bar gig at the Grand Hyatt Hotel when I was twenty-something. It was cocktail hour. I was wearing a vintage black satin party dress and he was wearing a umm...trench coat. There was nobody else on the train but us. He stood across from me and as we pulled away from the station he opened his coat to reveal an enlarged and north facing appendage leaning a little to the left if I recall correctly. The brim of his hat obscured his eyes. Mine were all like 👀. I planned my escape…I’d better get out of here before that thing gets any closer.
As soon as the doors opened I sprinted, found a cop, and told him about the incident. He escorted me all the way to Trumpets Lounge (then named after our current "President"), where I slid onto the piano bench and commenced my first set with (ironically) "I Only Have Eyes For You."
I still think about that night. It was Gross. He never touched me. Blackmailed me. Offered me a promotion in exchange for a kiss. He was there and gone. He was a jerk. I got over it. I was young. I was lucky. I never wrote a song about it. Maybe I should have. That's a tricky song to write. So are songs about war and social injustice. They can be preachy. Cheesy. Why are love songs a piece of cake?
Most people I know in the music business are honorable citizens of the universe. That said, many of my female colleagues have had multiple encounters with inappropriate sexual overtures. We navigate a competitive industry in which the promise of success is often bargained for, subtly or not so subtly. (Full disclosure I slept with 1 producer on the way up. But that was because I cared for him. It wasn't a swap for a potential single on a Whitney Houston album.)
So it seems like we're making some progress in exposing (no pun intended) the madness. The latest trend is absurd. I'm not sure why these guys think we want to see their junk. And if they know we don't, what is it about the thrill of showing it to us anyway? I don’t understand the psychology of that particular power trip, but I’m not supposed to. They're ill.
Perhaps after a sincere and comprehensive apology in addition to HELP! some can be rehabilitated, close to forgiven and maybe 'work in this town' again. But Lifers? The ones who chalk it up to locker room speak? The ones who never say sorry? Or say half-a-sorry? They're Unredeemable. Forgiveness is (also) an easy write, if the one you're forgiving wants to be forgiven.
We have to keep talking about it. As the late great Nora Ephron put it, "Everything is copy." Art, resulting from a traumatic experience, is still something worth sharing.
Kesha had her closure with "Praying."
Last January, Singer-Songwriter/activist Connie Lim (aka MILCK) posted a video filmed at the Women’s March and it went viral—with 15 million views on Facebook alone. Now signed to Atlantic Records, November 3rd was a timely and topical formal release date for her song, “I Can’t Keep Quiet”...Quiet about domestic violence, Quiet about gay marriage, being who we are, Quiet after a contentious political election and Quiet about all the Weinsteins. All of it.
Like I said—not an easy song to write. Thank you Connie, for helping us find the words.