885 Greatest Songs By Women: #10, Michelle Shocked - Anchorage (1988)

Here is the first of my ten entries celebrating WXPN's top 885 greatest songs by a female lead singer.

Number ten belongs to Michelle Shocked (real name, Karen Michelle Johnston), who hasn't released any music since 2009 largely in protest of the meager compensation artists receive because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Also, while Shocked has always been respected for her music, controversies born of her political stances have also greatly hampered her career.

The first song I ever heard by Shocked was "Anchorage" taken from her first major label, full-length CD, Short Sharp Shocked in 1988. It made it to #66 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was also her highest charting set, but it peaked at only #73. She never had another single on the Hot 100 again, and her albums didn't do much better.

"Anchorage" is a unique song. Recorded mostly in an acoustic setting it has a very pleasant melody supported by Shocked's upbeat vocal. The song was inspired by a letter from a married friend who moved from Texas to Alaska with her husband and young child.

In real life, the friend was JoAnn Kelli Bingham, a Comanche tribe member who writes that she is surprised to find she is now a "housewife" while Shocked has become "a skateboard punk-rocker in New York" and possibly leading a glamorous life. Bingham also tells Shocked to "keep on rocking."  Many of the song's lyrics were lifted directly from Bingham's letter that was a reply to one Shocked sent her earlier.

Because the East Texas native had her music removed everywhere from the Internet due to her ongoing protest against DMCA you won't find her work for sale on iTunes or Amazon. It's also gone from all streaming services and YouTube, so no video or audio clip for "Anchorage" is currently available. You'll have to go digging to find any of her albums, and after an exhaustive search you'll probably come away empty handed unless you get lucky at a used record store or yard sale.



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