Ferron's Music Is The Soundtrack To Many Lesbian Lives
Ferron: On Ageing, Active Compassion, and the Evolution of DNA. (Part 1 of 3)
I was an undergrad at Rutgers in the early 80s, with an undeclared crush on a stocky, Italian-Irish junior I’ll call Mimi. One day when we were talking about music, Mimi drooped her lovely Italian-Irish eyelids and murmured, “Oh, Ferron!” She breathed the singer’s name the way someone might say, “the most luscious orgasm” or “the greatest singer-songwriter ever produced by Canada, including Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell.”
A few years later, I attended my first MichFest and I understood Mimi’s breathy enthusiasm. That was the summer I first called myself a lesbian, and the first time I bought one of Ferron’s CDs, starting my collection of the soundtrack to most of my adult life.
Later, I took workshops with her on the West Coast of the USA and Canada, and each interaction was a revelation in creativity and connection.
Author of the unofficial lesbian national anthem (“Testimony”) and one of the great break-up ballads of all time (“Ain’t Life a Brook”), Ferron has made some 15 CDs and performed throughout the USA and Canada. She is the subject of two award-winning documentaries: Ferron: Girl on a Road (2009) and Thunder (2013).
Currently Ferron is not touring, due to physical issues, but she’s teaching workshops, writing, singing, and creating beauty every day.
Many LBGold readers know about Ferron already; for those who don’t yet know her music, there are riches for you to gather. (“You young ones / You're the next ones / And I hope you choose it well. / Though you try hard / You may fall prey /To the jaded jewel. / But by your lives be you spirit / And by your hearts be you women / And by your eyes be you open / And by your hands be you whole.” – Ferron, “Testimony”)
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LLL: How old are you, and how do you feel about being that age?
Ferron: I’ll be 62 in June , and I find it kind of amazing. I’m kind of fascinated with it: your looks change, your hair changes, and it’s mysterious.
Of course we carry inside us an age that is timeless, but I’m not one of the ones that wants to go back. I don’t want to be young. I like what I understand, I like the sort of humor and tolerance level that I’ve acquired.
I can remember being young and being depressed. I was like a paper cut-out, two-dimensional, walking along the street when I was really young, and I don’t feel like that anymore. I feel like I’m swimming through, not vapor really, but I’ll use that word: a kind of vaporous consciousness. It has made life very interesting.
LLL’s conversation with Ferron will continue in subsequent columns. Meanwhile, send suggestions and comments to: email@example.com