End the duopoly

The Countermelodies That Changed Us: A Lifetime Of Loving Indigo Girls

Turning the Tables is NPR’s ongoing multi-platform series dedicated to recentering the popular music canon on voices that have been marginalized, underappreciated, or hidden in plain sight.

In 2020, we will publish an occasional series looking closely at the careers of significant women in music, treasured albums or significant scenes. Find all Turning the Tables content here .

Are you an Emily or an Amy? Few mainstream fans of the Indigo Girls would even consider that question, but for the lesbians over age 40 who love them, it’s an elemental personality test.

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The duo, which releases its 16th studio album Look Long tomorrow, has been together for 35 years. Early publicity materials established an enduring impression of the contrast between them – like this bio, written three years before their self-titled 1989 album: “Amy’s songs are gutsy, powerful and upbeat. Emily’s are lyrical, jazzy and more ballad-like.”

Like a lot of baby butches in the ’90s, I wanted to be like Amy: an aloof yet accessible alpha butch whose salt-of-the-earth zeal, both political and emotional, broke a lot of guitar strings, and presumably a lot of hearts. But in my own heart, the one I wear on my sleeve, I […]

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