In 1993 a young songwriter named Liz Phair came out of nowhere to release one of the most defining albums of the 90s: Exile in Guyville. Liz Phair was from the indie-rock scene of Chicago, but she had a new story to tell: the secret life of an ordinary woman in her twenties, struggling with love, sex and insecurity.
Exile was Phair’s song-by-song response to the 1972 Rolling Stones classic, Exile on Main Street. It might have sounded arrogant, especially coming from a girl who had never done an album before. But Liz Phair did not conform to any of the cultural expectations of young musicians. And neither did his songs. In the male-dominated music scene of the day, she refused to play nicely.
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Exile in Guyville didn’t have a mainstream broadcast, but it changed the stakes in independent rock musically, culturally and emotionally. No one had heard anything like this before. For many listeners, it was like a voice they had waited to hear all their lives.
The latest episode of our Amazon Original podcast The 500 Best Rolling Stone Albums takes an in-depth look at the creation and impact of Exile in Guyville. Rob Sheffield tells the full story of the album, with help from Liz Phair herself, who explains how she channeled the ‘disillusion and fury’ of her twenties into a defining musical statement. Exile producer Brad Wood also talks about his memories of the time, and Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice explains how Phair’s “fearlessness” helped free his own writing.
In 2003, Rolling stone has released its definitive countdown of 500 best albums of all time, the most popular and controversial list in magazine history. In 2020, we completely remade the list, adding over 150 new titles. With the Amazon Original podcast The 500 Best Rolling Stone Albums, we delve deeper into the creation and meaning of many of the records that have been selected, with exclusive information from the artists who created them – and those who know them best, and their music. Liz Phair Exile in Guyville placed at number 56 in the last ranking.
Hosted by RS Senior Editor Brittany Spanos, The 500 Best Rolling Stone Albums appears exclusively on Amazon Music, with a new episode coming out every week. Check Exile in Guyville episode above.
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