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Blue Rider

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Album Review

Conventional wisdom holds that Cris Williamson's breakthrough 1975 album The Changer and the Changed, said to be the best-selling album in women's music, is her masterpiece. Were that not so well established, one might propose instead Blue Rider, Williamson's catchiest collection of songs yet. It would be easy to imagine this album appealing to listeners far beyond the regular patrons of Olivia Records, the home of musical lesbian feminism. (The album was later reissued on Williamson's own Wolf Moon label.) True, when she sings love songs, Williamson usually makes it clear that she is singing to another woman, a good example being "Lucille," which features slide guitar work by Bonnie Raitt. But whatever the sex of the love object, the romantic songs trade in the same ups and downs enjoyed and suffered by lovers everywhere, and these are excellent examples of the form, particularly Vicki Randle's "What Good Does It Do Me Now." Williamson's own compositions are full of nature imagery and childhood literary references newly transformed — one song is called "Peter Pan," and another recalls the Wicked Witch's skywriting demand, "Surrender Dorothy," from the film The Wizard of Oz. Williamson writes songs with strong melodies and pop hooks, and she sings them feelingly. This is an album that can stand beside any of the soft rock singer/songwriters of the day, and Williamson cites her progenitors by contributing a song reflecting on John Lennon's murder ("Night Patrol") and another that attempts to explain to Judy Collins her impact on a generation of women, Williamson very much among them ("Lodestar"). Blue Rider is more than just a great album in the women's music genre; it's a great pop/rock album that should be heard by a mass audience.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic collection of great songs!

"Like an Island Rising" is my favorite. "...Sweet miracles can come between the cradle and the grave" sings Cris - and that iTunes makes this album available to a mass audience is one of them.


Born: 1947 in Deadwood, SD

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Just as baseball historians can only speculate about how players in the old Negro leagues would have fared in the absence of segregation in the major leagues prior to the arrival of Jackie Robinson in 1947, so music historians may ponder what status Cris Williamson might have assumed if she had emerged at a time when admitted homosexuals were not subject to exclusion from major record labels. By the 1990s, openly gay women artists Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls, and k.d. lang were able to maintain...
Full Bio
Blue Rider, Cris Williamson
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Customer Ratings