PJ Harvey: Rid of Me (1993)

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It was two years ago, November 2016 – emotions were running high and politics were at their lowest. With lyrics like “I’m gonna twist your head off, see” and “Don’t you wish you never never met her”, this album encapsulated feminine frustration at the political landscape. From the loud guitars coming in after the quiet whispered intro to the taunts aimed at toxic male masculinity, this album was my antidote to the hopeless post-election landscape. I had it on repeat for the following months, even though it had been released almost 25 years earlier. 

Rid of Me is my favorite album. It’s the one that resonates and has embedded itself into me, refusing to be forgotten. The emotions are raw, powerful, and heart-wrenching. At the core of it, this album is about relationships from the perspective of someone who feels too deeply and passionately about them. It’s about the self and the self in relation to others. For me, it’s about relationships destructing, unsatisfied lovers, and self-expression.  

She is strong, that’s the gist of it all. Whether she’s referring to herself as a “50ft queenie” or “man-sized”, she’s asserting her identity at both ends of the spectrum in a raw and abrasive manner. In a way, she mocks the usual method of displaying bravado through talking about size – particularly through the size of manhood. It’s a woman singing about being big, “20 inches long” in fact. She takes it, owns it, and in the end, we realize how ridiculous masculine conventions of equating physical size with power really are. The voice in this song is not trapped by gender expectations of being either a man or woman – this person is who they are in a non-binary way. 

Rid of Me just passed its 25th anniversary and the years haven’t reduced its potency. It’s empowering to listen to and the urgency of the emotions are captivating. It sounds just as raw and brutal as it must have when it came out. When I play it on this November day, I can still remember the emotions two years ago that had me blasting this album on repeat and will continue having me do so. 

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