In an election season that spirals exponentially further outside of the realm of plausibility with each passing day, we have at last come across a fact that we can all easily digest and believe: Green Party nominee Jill Stein sang lead in a folk-rock duo in the 1990s.
Stein and collaborator Ken Selcer performed together as Somebody’s Sister and released their self-titled debut album in 1995. Though Stein’s ambitions have clearly evolved in the last 21 years, one brief listen will reveal exactly where she wanted to be in the ’90s: on that sweet, sweet second stage at Lilith Fair. (Speaking of which, oh good Lord: do you remember when Glen Phillips from Toad The Wet Sprocket and Jewel’s ex-boyfriend Steve Poltz started an all-male version of the Lilith Fair and called it Frasier Fair? I know we’re looking at the ’90s through rose-colored nostalgia glasses right now, but a lot of it was a nightmare.)
You can buy Somebody’s Sister on Bandcamp—or you can just listen to track eight, “Thing Junky,” and get the full picture. “Thing Junky” posits that we are addicted to things, and are abusing the environment in order to get them. You already knew this from the title, and also you had this conversation just after you did marijuana in your sophomore year of college.
This takes us to their 1999 album “Circuits To The Sun,” whose cover was designed by someone with Adobe Illustrator 7 and 20 free minutes. I will be brutally honest here: it is not half bad. If you had a Dar Williams/Jonatha Brooke/Abra Moore moment in the mid 1990s—and you did, and there is no shame in it— ou might even like it. It is designed to be played while you paint a chip-and-dip bowl in a Color Me Mine. (But do you even need another chip-and-dip bowl, Thing Junky? Why not stop depleting our natural resources, do some transcendental meditation, and find the chip-and-dip bowl within?)
But we must address these lyrics. In “American Dream,” Stein predicts what your fairweather-radical friends would be telling you on their Facebook walls in 2016:
Times are changin’ /
It ain’t a joke /
Hey, revolution /
Take back your vote.
Jill adds an “Mmm, a-take-a-back-a-your vote,” because in this genre that is the law, and goes on to say that “it don’t matter what you say or do, when you sense that the government ain’t workin’ for you.” As with your friend’s Facebook arguments, it doesn’t get a whole lot deeper than that.
The title track is about a woman who has entered a 12-self recovery program, and instead of getting into religion or guns to fill the void the substances left behind, tries to communicate to aliens by pointing crystals at the sky. It’s actually less fun than it sounds.
And then you get to “Dirty Little Secrets,” which packs a Jill Sobule punch and has a genuinely rousing chorus, and then you look at the video and you realize the thing is six minutes long. Dammit, Jill Stein! We are trying to root for you here!
Help yourself to several glasses of Chardonnay and give it all a listen. Maybe if enough of us do, she’ll get the band back together and drop out of the race. A-here’s a-hopin’.
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