Susan Dworkin

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 443

Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford have been composing fine music and lyrics for the theater and for just plain singing for a long time, and now, suddenly, people are beginning to listen to them. They started too soon, before women's experience was accepted as the stuff of hit songs, and...

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Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford have been composing fine music and lyrics for the theater and for just plain singing for a long time, and now, suddenly, people are beginning to listen to them. They started too soon, before women's experience was accepted as the stuff of hit songs, and so they had to wait. And wait. But now the waiting may be over.

Their newest record, "Cryer and Ford: You Know My Music" … has lyrics so timely (mostly by Cryer) and music so appealing (mostly by Ford) that it should make people look for their earlier album, "Cryer and Ford" …; between them, they contain all the thematic music that American feminism needs to keep it singing for a generation….

Their music is made of the vast experience they have been through: joblessness, love affairs, failure (their musical, Shelter, which didn't stay long on the boards) and success (their musical, The Last Sweet Days of Isaac, which did), divorce, remarriage, children, joy. They stay as close as quarter notes, growing together, changing together. Their songs describe events we may have thought were uniquely ours; that is, in fact, how they create a bond with the audience which is uniquely theirs.

Sometimes they tell stories ("Another Unhappy Love Song"); sometimes they zing in a little bitterness ("Last Day at the Job")…. Gretchen Cryer's lyrics are not complicated ever; the perception that underlies them is accurate and has the force of the God's honest truth. (p. 64)

The main trouble with Cryer and Ford records is not the artists themselves, but just the way records are made today—overlays of violins that make it hard to concentrate on the lyrics, an otherworldly fade at the end of the otherwise excitingly real song.

Women looking for songs to sing on buses going to conventions should remember that Cryer and Ford have now made them available. "Hang On to the Good Times" is one, but it could also be belted out loudly around a piano. Same thing goes for their best song, "Changing," which, like a lot of their music, echoes the church choirs in which they both sang.

Locked inside my headset, I tried it out: imagined I had just heard a rather inspiring sermon; okay, everybody rise, turn to page whatever; sing along with the women in the choir loft a song that is so true, it was familiar from the first time you heard it; sing it like an anthem that gets you out of the halls of worship and into the world, resensitized. (pp. 64-5)

Susan Dworkin, "Hang on to the Good Times," in Ms. (© 1977 Ms. Magazine Corp.), Vol. VI, No. 6, December, 1977, pp. 64-5.

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