Ruby's Corner

Jane Austen Playlist

I read my first Jane Austen book with my Mom when I was going into fifth grade: Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennett was the first character I’d ever met that was from this era, and I liked her – she was spunky and also a total romantic. And also, I like the writer, Jane Austen. I could tell that she knew things weren’t fair for girls, how girls and boys were not of equal value, and also, in terms of class, how people were divided into Wealthy and Everybody Else. Even now, I can see that if she were alive and writing now, she’d be on Tumblr, just as annoyed as the rest of us are about Tosh telling boys to touch girls’ soft bellies. She’d be so into a woman running for president. Jane Austen would be someone I’d be dying to interview. In my idea of Jane Austen, she’s funny; she’d do improv for sure. She’s smart – if you’re going to debate with her, you better have your facts. And she is a girl’s girl; if you need a bestie, she’s The One.  So I imagined what kind of playlist she’d be into, if I made one for her. Here it is:

‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin

I chose this song because just by looking at the title, you can tell that’s what Jane would’ve wanted. She wanted equal rights and respect. I think just her listening to the song would make her smile.

‘Kids In America’ by Kim Wilde

I chose this song because if you look at the lyrics, I think it is a song about freedom, letting go! And Jane definitely was not into sitting on her butt all day long.

‘I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar’ by Helen Reddy

I chose this song because if Jane sang, this would be something she would sing. “I am strong, I am invincible.” What Helen Reddy is saying is she can do anything a boy can do and just because she is a girl, she can do the same things just as well.

‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper

I chose this song because just by the title, you know it’s empowering. Jane was fun, and she gave a lot of her characters that opportunit to be silly and be witty (which is what I would say if I were British). This song would remind Jane that she did want to roll around, giggle, let go. The first line goes something like, “I come home in the morning light, my mother says when you gonna live your life right?” And I can tell that Jane would be just like Cyndi Lauper, like, dude, step off. Let me just be.

‘Single Ladies’ by Beyoncé

I chose this song because she is saying I don’t care what you think, you can’t control me; and also, Bey is having some fun with this, like you want my attention, put a ring on it. Like, step up and be an adult, not some dopey dude. I think if Jane was still alive, she would be a big Beyoncé fan.

‘U.N.I.T.Y’ by Queen Latifah

I chose this song because Queen Latifah is saying don’t let a boy think you are not tough just because you are a girl. This song is also about boys not calling girls demeaning terms, and I think with all the girl-shaming that’s going on these days, Jane Austen would be like, totally, who you calling a b-word?!

‘I Will Survive’ Gloria Gaynor

I chose this song because there is a story to the song. A lady has a boyfriend but they break up and she is saying I don’t need you to survive. Jane knew that you didn’t need a man in order to be a woman. Sure, it’s nice to be in love, and I’m sure Jane had a Mr. Darcy in her life, but she knew she could survive.

‘Imagine’ by John Lennon

I chose this song because John Lennon is saying, we should make peace and not war. I can imagine that Jane was definitely not into war, and that she’d want peace. “Imagine all the people living free.” The lyrics are something that Jane would’ve appreciated.

‘It’s My Life’ by Bon Jovi

I chose this song because this is exactly what Jane was thinking: “It’s my life, it’s now or never.” This is a very upbeat song and I think Jane would love it!

‘Rebel Girl’ by Bikini Kill

I chose this song because so many of the girls in Jane’s books were really rebels. They wanted more than to just be someone’s wife (yes, they all believed in love, but that’s separate). I think Jane had this intensity about writing, about making these worlds where girls just were like, seriously?

‘Bad Reputation’ by Joan Jett

I chose this song because Joan Jett is saying, “I don’t care what you think! I’m going to do my own thing!” As I keep saying, Jane kept saying that too! I think it is a very empowering song and, come on, its Joan Jett! Jane would have totally been into Joan Jett. Also, I am giving you a second link, when the Foo Fighters played with Joan Jett on Letterman. Let’s all just take a moment and bow to Joan Jett’s greatness.

‘Spice Up Your Life’ by Spice Girls

I choose this song because, well, it says Jane Austen all over it! Have a good time, boys and girls, all colors of the world, spice up your life! This is such a fun song. It is also about girls sticking together and Jane wanted that; she wanted girls to be on the same team, not working against each other. Jane would so be not into middle school drama, let me tell you.

So that’s the first playlist I’d make her. And if she were alive and my BFF, after she got my playlist, we’d look through some of the Brit HelloGiggles posts together: Kate Spencer’s Downton Abbey recaps, the genius of The Heatley Cliff and we’d marvel at how talented a writer Scarlett Curtis is. I’m already practicing my English accent!

Jane Austen word cloud image via ShutterStock