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[link to part I] [link to part II] For more than a decade, the Indigo Girls’ gentle harmonies and stirring lyrics have given voice to the anger, love, fear and confusion of our community.Today, their mainstream popularity brings that message to the masses, but their passion remains intact, augmented by their maturity and a still-growing sense of activism.I also love “Everything In Its Own Time,” because it’s so different.The writing reminds me of old Emily, when we first met.Emily and I spent several years focused on activism, and in our year off, we mulled it all over, thought about it and wrote songs. I’ve always been pretty outspoken and pretty willing to talk about everything, but Emily had a tendency to be more scared about privacy issues. My dedication to activism took away from my relationship.I found it important to say, “Look, what I’ve been involved with has given me some freedom in my heart and soul that I’ve never experience.I find my idea of God to be infused in everything, animate and sometimes inanimate. I feel like its a part of me and I feel the strenght of that.Its more like a Creator; its definitely a sexless being.
So there are sentimental reasons why that song is really close to me.I’ve been gender-specific on records before, In “Chickenman” I’m very specific-I went looking for a girl. When we both have a lot of time off, we do side projects. The problem is, I could never do Emily’s side projects.And then in “Fugitive” it’s obvious I’m talking about a girl. Going back to your relationship with Emily, you both work independently and then come together musically. Since the beginning, we’ve been so different from each other and our musical styles have been different. When we first started, Emily was much more knowledgeable musically and still is. Businesswise, I had more business acumen, so I was the one who said we should do this and that. We collaborated once when we were really young and it didn’t work out very well. I think we realized that we needed to write in our own separate worlds in order to have identity. We can express ourselves without having to compromise too much. Its fun for us — it’s nothing that would threaten us. But every time I think about it, I ask, “Now who would I want to play with me? Hers would be something like jazz or blues, which I couldn’t do.The older I get, the more outspoken I get, the more blunt I get, because I just dont feel its worth it anymore not to be that way. It was a very heartbreaking moment of my life to break up with that. Most of the problems that we have right now in the States derive from a system of imperialism — meaning sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance.
Our activism, especially with the Zapatistas [rebel fighters] in Chiapas, Mexico, has been an impetus to just stand up and say what we feel and be very direct about it. I wasn’t willing to commit to anything- out of fear, and growing up and having all sorts of problems, not just who I was in love with. You think we would have stayed together this long if we’d ever been involved in a relationship? [laugh] We have the perfect relationship — a great business relationship and a great friendship. I’m sure our readers would like to know what your type is. I think all of that grows out of the way the country was started — the Manifest Destiny, colonization.In the following interview, Amy Ray speaks with down-to-heart charm and candor about her relationship with Emily, the Honor the Earth Tour and her own spiritual path.In Shaming, it seems that for the 1st time you and Emily use gender-specific pronouns. It would be fun to do a side project that is me and Emily but its called something different, and its really different.We’ve seen people in the gay community that have suffered for their preferences and their beliefs. I actually fell in love with a woman in high school but didn’t consummate it until a year later…we had a very long courtship. I finally felt like I had completely come to terms with it when I told my grandmother, which was only about 4 years ago. [laugh] There’s always the question, were you and Emily ever involved? Until we get right with the Indians and start over with our whole way of thinking, as far as who deserves to have what and be where, I dont think we’ll be able to change all the other things. When you wrote about your Honor ’95 experience in the journal “Indigenous Woman,” you refer to the song “Shed your Skin.” It seems there’s an intertwining of the message of activism and shedding our skin.