Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

11. Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville

This album changed music for me when I was about 12. I was listening to things like Ace of Bass and Janet Jackson. I got a Spin magazine with Beck on the cover and an article with her in it, about her stagefright and the subject matter of her songs. I used my babysitting money and I got that album, and it freaked me out. I had come out to myself, which was hard to do. I ended up staying in the closet for a few more years, but hearing someone sing about being with a man, and all these sexual things, morphed into some real heavy shame for me. Hearing someone sing about it without apology and with power was just really helpful.

She’s saying all this shit, and it’s casual. That did not feel casual to me. It felt life or death. I had to listen to it in secret, and then play it for my friends – which is so funny for me, playing it for all my best friends, going like, "Check this out!" and playing them ‘Flower’ [Laughs]. They were definitely not on the same wavelength. I didn’t know music could be like that. I was struggling with even having those thoughts. I didn’t know you could sing about them, or even tell someone else. It was incredible.

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