Alison Fensterstock

Alison Fensterstock is a music writer at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the program director for the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation. Recent projects include co-curating the “Where They At” exhibition and oral history archive on New Orleans bounce music and the Louisiana State Museum’s “Unsung Heroes” exhibit on Louisiana R&B, rock, garage and blues.



"Fallen Angels: The Persistent Plotline of Woman's Ruin in Hip-Hop, Hair Metal and Beyond"

This paper will take a look at some of the popular music that, in a seemingly contradictory way, continued to embrace the depressing cautionary tale of women after the sexual/cultural revolution of the 60's and up to the present day.

Baby Please Don’t Go: The City as Women's Ruin in American Roots Music

From the traditional “Katie Cruel” to Poison’s “Fallen Angel,” female characters in song tend to fare poorly when they strike out solo into urban spaces. The transition from the country to the city, in lyrics, is a dead giveaway that by the end of the song, the woman who stepped off the Greyhound bus alone on the Sunset Strip (or any analogue of that) will be dead, drinking alone, using drugs, turning tricks, pregnant out of wedlock, or some combination thereof. Conversely, songs that begin with a woman in the straits described are likely to reveal by the end that the whole problem is that once, long ago, her purer, fresher self made the damning decision – whether out of ambition, financial need, or the ever-popular duping by a cad who promised marriage - to head for the bright lights on her own.

Focusing on songs performed by women and using audio and video examples, this panel will discuss the enduring popularity of this creepy cautionary storyline in American roots music, its origins in Anglo-European balladry (whose writers arguably had genuine need to keep their women down on the farm) and contemporary variations on it.