Top 10 Favorite Classic Ani Difranco Songs

Updated on November 8, 2017
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An avid music fan all her life, Donna enjoys sharing her love of indie rock singers and songwriters with other music fans.

Ani Difranco has often referred to herself as a "little folksinger". Although the roots of her music may begin with folksy acoustic guitar, her songs are a creative blend of thoughtful lyrics, beautiful vocals, and talented musicianship.

Born in Buffalo, NY, Ani started playing the guitar and writing her own songs at an early age. As a teenager, she moved to New York City to continue with her music and started playing in clubs in the city. In 1989, she started her own record label and released her first album, Ani Difranco, in 1990. Constant touring and word of mouth helped her build a legion of fans. Known for her feminist ideals, open sexuality, and her support of political and social issues, she has become a spokesperson for her generation.

Over her career, Ani has released over 40 albums and explored many musical genres. Her band has changed over the years as she has added elements of rap, jazz, and spoken word to her songs.

The list below might serve as an introduction to Ani Difranco's music. Most of these songs are from the earlier part of her career and could be considered "classic" songs. I have put them in chronological order, but many of her songs appear on multiple albums.

"Fire Door" from her first album, Ani Difranco

This is a simple love song, but shows off the beauty of Ani's voice and songwriting. Although it was first released in 1990 on her album, Ani Difranco, my favorite version appears on her live album, Living In Clip.

"Both Hands" from Ani Difranco

Another great love song from Ani's debut album. However, I prefer the live version that appeared on her ep More Joy, Less Shame.

"Anticipate" from Not So Soft

"Anticipate" from her second album, Not So Soft, is a classic Ani song about independence and mistrust of relationships. There is another great live version of the song on Living In Clip, featuring Sara Lee on bass and Andy Stochansky on drums.

"In or Out" from Imperfectly

"In or Out" is probably one of Ani's best known and loved songs. As statement about her sexuality, the song first appears on her third album, Imperfectly, but is included on Living in Clip and many of her official bootlegs.

"Untouchable Face" from Dilate

"Untouchable Face" was released on Ani's seventh album, Dilate, in 1996. A song about unrequited love, peppered with four letter words as only Ani can deliver. This song also appeared on Living in Clip, and Ani often performed the song with Greg Brown when the two toured together in 1998.

"Gravel" from Living in Clip

Most of us are familiar with the song, "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen, where the male protagonist picks up his girlfriend Mary and they ride off together. I've always thought that "Gravel" could be a song about what's going through Mary's head when her boyfriend shows up with this plan. First released live on Living in Clip in 1997, a studio version of the song was also included on 1998's Little Plastic Castles.

"Two Little Girls" from Little Plastic Castles

"Two Little Girls" is a song about two newcomers to the Big Apple, building a relationship and trying to protect each other from the dangers of love. Released in 1998 on Little Plastic Castles, this is always a crowd pleaser at Ani's live shows.

"Swandive" from Little Plastic Castles

"Swandive" is a brilliant song - part love story, part statement of independence. The lyrics show Ani's songwriting at its best, with clever word play and a wonderful touch of humor and irony. Although the song was first released on Little Plastic Castles in 1998, there is a great live version on 2002's So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter.

"Angry Anymore" from Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up

"Angry Anymore" shows Ani as a more mature songwriter, reflecting on her own relationship and comparing it to the behavior she saw in her own parents' marriage. The song was released on Ani's ninth studio album, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up in 1999.

"Slide" from Evolve

2002's Evolve featured an expanded band with horns and keyboards. This band helped bring a jazzy feel to one of my favorite songs, "Slide". Again, Ani's strong songwriting, beautiful voice and humor is on display.

Honorable Mentions

Because I couldn't really limit the list to just 10 songs, here are some other favorites:

"4th of July" from Puddle Dive

"32 Flavors" from Not a Pretty Girl

"Swing" from To the Teeth

"Cradle & All" from So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter

"Studying Stones" from Knuckle Down

For more information about Ani Difranco and her music, check out my other article: 10 Things You Might Not Know About Singer-Songwriter Ani Difranco, or visit her website at www.righteousbabe.com. There you will find information about her music, tour dates, and the latest news.

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    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Joey, "Gravel" and "Fire Door" are two of my favorite Ani's songs and I enjoy the different versions she's released on various albums. It sounds like that San Diego show was amazing. Ani always puts on a great live show :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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      Joey 3 years ago

      Been an ani fan for years and I totally didn't know that the living in clip version of gravel came before the little plastic castle version!! I've seen her live 5 times and was at the San Diego show when she performed that version of "fire door" you posted! Good stuff.

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      Hi Spartucusjones! I'm just trying to spread the Ani love :) Thanks for your comments! Much appreciated!

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Awesome hub! I'm a fan of Ani Difranco and her song To The Teeth is a personal fave of mine. Thanks for sharing.

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      Hi Dolores - Yes, Ani certainly is energetic, and a great talent :) Glad to introduce another person to her music. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate it!!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I enjoyed this introduction to Ani Difranco. Though I've occasionally heard her music, I knew little about her or her songs. Such an energetic singer! She has such a unique style!

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      Hi theframjak - I love "Studying Stones" too. I felt I couldn't put another somber song on the list, so it made the honorable mentions instead. Thanks for your comments, as always!!

    • theframjak profile image

      theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for putting this together purl3agony. I love Ani and enjoy her music. Glad to see "Studying Stones" made the honorable mention.

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much, kidscrafts! I hope this info serves as an intro to Ani's music for those who might not know her :)

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I find that Ani Difranco has a very nice energy!

      Very interesting to see how she prepares "her nails" before a concert!

      Nice choice of songs!

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      I'm glad you did :) Always great to meet another Ani fan!

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      rmcmillen 4 years ago

      Any time..... not often I come across articles about Ani, so I almost kinda had to comment ;-)

    • purl3agony profile image
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      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      Hi rmcmillen - Great choice! I particularly like the live version on Living In Clip. I limited myself to 10 songs (sort of) and leaned heavily towards love songs. But then, there's so many great songs to choose from! Thanks for your comments!

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      rmcmillen 4 years ago

      I've always been a lover of Napoleon