Favorite Songs By Women

Posted on March 28, 2019

by Tim P

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are a few tracks by women, both solo and in bands, that inspire me. As always, the tracks are in no particular order. And I’m not kidding about that last one.

Songs by Women to Listen to Anytime

"Crazy on You" by Heart
"Sinnerman" by Nina Simone
Benefactor by Romeo Void
Germ Free Adolescents: The Anthology by X-Ray Spex
This Kind of Love by Meg Hentges

1. “Crazy On You” by Heart

The Wilson sisters lead the best band to ever come out of Seattle, Washington (Sorry Death Cab and Queensryche)!

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

2. “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone

Ten minutes of hypnotic piano and intense vocals, Ms. Simone had been playing this traditional song since she was a child.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

3. “Never Say Never” by Romeo Void

A driving drumbeat punctuates singer Debora Iyall’s cool vocals, with lyrics about a member of the band who Debora didn’t like all that much, but maybe could grow to.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

4. “Germ Free Adolescents” by X-Ray Spex

A song about OCD written by X-Ray Spex’s Poly Styrene (Mari Elliott). Her career was way too short and she doesn’t get enough recognition today. I love how her voice cracks every time she sings the word “times” on this song.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

5. “This Kind Of Love” by Meg Hentges

Formerly a member of folky group Two Nice Girls, Hentges went full-on power-pop with “This Kind Of Love,” a song about growing up gay in the Midwest. It’s got a great first line.

Borrow it from the Library: Digital

Maya by M.I.A.
Miss E ... So Addictive
The Lion and the Cobra by Sinead O'Connor
The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit
You Are the Problem by First Aid Kit (explicit lyrics)

6. “Born Free” by M.I.A.

From the Ghost Rider sample to the laconic delivery, this whole thing just grooves. And that first “Whooo”? Just great.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

7. “Get Ur Freak On” by Missy Elliott

Not a day goes by when I don’t have the hook from this song stuck in my head. And if you’ve ever heard it, it’s probably stuck in yours now.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

8. “Jackie” by Sinead O’Connor

The vocals on this ghost story song just swell like the sea Jackie gets lost on. It always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Borrow it from the Library: CD

9. “Emmylou” by First Aid Kit

A beautiful song about Emmylou Harris and June Carter Cash. If you can, watch the Youtube video of the Soderberg sisters performing this on the Skavlan talk show.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

10. “You Are The Problem Here” by First Aid Kit

Another one! Foregoing their usual folksiness, the Soderbergs get right to the point in a song about the Stanford swim team rapist. Angry and brilliant.

Borrow it from the Library: Digital

The Best Of Bobbie Gentry: The Capitol Years
Mimi on the Beach by Jane Siberry
We are the One by Avengers (explicit lyrics)
Retrospective : The Best of Suzanne Vega
The Best of Siouxsie & The Banshees

11. “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry

Gentry wrote brilliant character studies wrapped up in funky country pop. This one is about a young woman whose mother gives her a way out of their grueling poverty.

“She handed me a heart-shaped locket that said ‘To thine own self be true’ And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across The toe of my high-heeled shoe

It sounded like somebody else was talkin’ Askin’, “Momma what do I do?” She said, “Just be nice to the gentlemen, Fancy They’ll be nice to you.”

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

12. “Mimi On The Beach” by Jane Siberry

Growing bored during a day at the beach with her friends (the popular kids), our narrator instead focuses on a stranger, whom she decides is named Mimi, floating in the ocean on a pink surfboard. All seems well, but we find out the Great Leveler is coming (Stand up, Mimi! Stand up!).

Borrow it from the Library: CD

13. “We Are The One” by Avengers

Wonderfully catchy chant along from Bay-Area punks led by Penelope Houston.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

14. “The Queen And The Soldier” by Suzanne Vega

After hearing “Marlena On The Wall” on MTV, I got Vega’s first album on vinyl from the Library. This song is my favorite by her (although I really like “In Liverpool” off of 99.9F too!)

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

15.”Cities In Dust” by Siouxsie And The Banshees

A former hanger-on of the Sex Pistols who had more talent in her little finger than that band had in their whole bodies, Siouxie was one of the inventors of the Post Punk genre. Hugely influential.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

Horses by Patti Smith
The Best of the Shangri-Las
Sally Go Round the Roses by The Jaynetts
Ring My Bell by Anita Ward

16. “Land” by Patti Smith

Also incredibly influential, Patti was one of the first of the first wave of New York punk. “Gloria,” the lead track off of her debut album, is amazing, but the nine and a half minute long “Land” is my favorite.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

17. “Past, Present, and Future” by the Shangri-Las

Four teenagers (two sets of sisters!) from Queens made a stately song that quietly hints at some awful occurrence in the singer’s past. The middle waltz part is glorious.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

18. “Sally Go ‘Round The Roses” by the Jaynetts

Another Girl Group song, another mystery. Haunting and distant vocals singing “they won’t tell your secret.” There have been multiple suggestions about what that secret is, but the roses ain’t telling.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

19. “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward

Wonderful disco song about ringing bells. That’s what it’s about. Nothing else. Nope. The chimes are so catchy!

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

Girlschool - London 1980
Gospel Train by Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Hounds of Love by Kate Bush
Philosophy of the World by The Shaggs

20. “Emergency” by Girlschool

Four women from London who helped kick off the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, one of my favorite music scenes.

Borrow it from the Library: Digital

21. “Up Above My Head” by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

With her signature SG in hand, Sister Tharpe was an early pioneer of rock and roll by way of gospel. This song was released quite a few years before Chuck Berry hit the charts but, sadly, she gets no credit for how innovative she was.

Borrow it from the Library: CD | Digital

22. “The Hounds Of Love” by Kate Bush

The whole album. One of my top five favorite albums ever. Kate Bush is an absolute genius and this is her best work (arguably).

Borrow it from the Library: CD

23. “My Pal Foot Foot” by The Shaggs

Trio of high school sisters from New Hampshire, The Shaggs were light years ahead of their time. Nobody had made music that sounded quite like this before them, and nobody has since. Is “Philosophy Of The World” the greatest album of all time?

Borrow it from the Library: Digital

Disclaimer: Audience discretion advised. Lyrical content may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Featured Image Credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

Did you like this blog post? Keep up to date with all of our posts by subscribing to the Library’s newsletters!

Keep your reading list updated with our book lists. Our staff love to read and they’ll give you the scoop on new tv-series inspired titles, hobbies, educational resources, pop culture, current events, and more!

Looking for more great titles? Get personalized recommendations from our librarians with this simple form.