all alone in her world: ghetto girl 1989 - 1994

by ghetto girl

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In 1985, ghetto girl began recording ‘songs’ on a 4-track cassette recorder she had bought, using her $39 Casio portable keyboard, a cheap-ass Radio Shack reverb box, a $5.00 microphone, and any other found objects that made sound. During that period, she was much more interested in experimenting with sounds rather than songwriting. Influenced more by Laurie Anderson and Chris & Cosey than by the Beach Boys and the Beatles, she created sonic collages into which she mixed her own acid-damaged poetry as well as found sounds and the marijuana-stimulated ad lib ramblings of her friends. One of her most frequent early collaborators, her friend Mairi Gl’amour came up with the name ghetto girl (no caps, please), which evolved from one of their favorite phrases from that period, “get it, girl!” (from whence came g.i.g. entertainment international). For the next few years, ghetto girl evolved as an artistic entity consisting of herself and anyone else who would let her commit his or her talents to tape. And a definite ghetto girl aesthetic emerged as well: quick and crude, but with all the magic and fleeting brilliance of first takes, twangy out-of-tune guitars laid over a poppers disco beat, and a peculiar lyrical style that paid little attention to gender pronouns or shifts in person. In her willful ignorance of traditional song structure, ghetto girl truly did create some amazingly trippy “music for stoned queers” as she then characterized her music.

The “second era” in ghetto girl’s career began in 1989 when she met Christian Matthews and a whole new world of home-recording possibilities opened up to me. Christian, too, had been recording his own songs and those of his friends since he was nine years old, and was much more technically adept at it than ghetto girl. Furthermore, he was much more of a musical traditionalist, composing perfect pop-ditties, whereas ghetto girl didn’t even know what a “bridge” in a song was! Within a matter of weeks after meeting each other, they were recording together; inspired by Christian’s songcraft, and enraptured by new love, ghetto girl began to move in a more song-oriented direction. Now she was actually writing songs with verses, choruses, and harmony vocals (“All Alone in Her World”, “Full ‘o’ Shit”) and even her songs without a traditional structure at least had a melody (“Again”). Yet key aspects of the ghetto girl aesthetic remained intact, as evidenced by the found sounds in the dance-oriented “I’ll Never Be a Fag” and “Lose Weight Deliciously”, the gender-bending of “Mary-Goes-Round” and “Tranzmergance”, and the all-out freaky aural experimentation of “Give Her a Haldol”. As the years rolled by, she and Chris were able to buy more recording equipment, and as Chris' talent and skills in audio production developed from a hobby into a career, ghetto girl (and many others) reaped the benefits of his growth, resulting in recordings that were nearly professional in quality, yet recorded entirely at home on four tracks (“Doppelganger”, “AZT-3-Day-Illness”). From the very beginning, ghetto girl was conceived as a collective, and although she has had less hands-on involvement in the engineering of the recordings as time has passed, she remains firmly in control of ghetto girl’s artistic vision, and has had to battle with Chris over, for example, whether it is appropriate to write a song about one’s AIDS medications. Ultimately, the music benefits from this collaboration, and ghetto girl has thus far produced four full-length recordings that document this remarkable creative output. (But she's still not sure if she ever wrote a song with a bridge!)


released May 1, 2015




ghetto girl San Francisco, California

Music for Stoned Queers since 1984

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Track Name: again
I've seen love before, now I'm seeing her again
But I'll trip on her lace, fall on my face again
I don't need her release no more, so I'm walking out the door
And I won't be back again

I've kissed you before, and I'll kiss you once again
But I won't call your name, or take all the blame again
Now we got us an even score, so I'm walking on out the door
Because I won't be had again

I've played the fool before, but I won't play one again
Cuz I'm tired of the part, You're breaking my heart again
But I'll love you forever more, though I'm walking on out the door
Because I can't be sad again
Track Name: all alone in her world
We are young, We are vital, We are healthy
We fear nothing, We have the truth, We wish you'd go away
Educate, Masturbate, and do the dishes
We live our lives, We know the course, We meditate, We pray

-- chorus --
There's an old man sitting on the steps of the YMCA
And he's wearing a single false eyelash as he looks away
Getting up from the sidewalk that he sleeps on like a timid girl
That harmless, homeless, dainty, little, old, queer
Was all alone in her world

They are young, They are sick, They are dying
They fear nothing, They have the truth, We wish they'd go away
Persperate, Nauseate, and take a deep breath
Release my hand, Head towards the light,
I'll stay behind and pray

-- chorus --
Track Name: mary-goes-round
I once had a dream, or so it would seem
I'm waiting in a line, I'm having a good time
I get on a ride, it goes very high
It turns me upside down, and spins me all around

-- chorus --
Mary goes round, where she stops
Nobody knows why she hops
Into the night, she wanders
Into the light, she stumbles
Mary goes round, in circles
Wandering far, never re-
Turning again, she's lost her
Way in the stars, she's searching
Heavens above, she's searching

Then I see a crowd from up in my cloud
They're screaming at the sun for something that it's done
Fingers to the sky, all wondering why
That girl up the air has angels in her hair

-- chorus --

Gracefully falling apart, I have no inclination to start
Remembering my name, remembering the game
I like it up here, in the outer stratosphere
Far removed from the crowds, safe, up in the clouds

-- chorus --
Track Name: full o' shit
I wish I could write a lovely song for you
One that would tell you how I feel
A song you could listen to and say "”Oh ain't that sweet!”"
A song to make you love me, sweep you off your pretty feet

-- chorus --
But this ain't it, I know,
Because it's full o' shit
I don't have the talent to impress you
Or the charm to undress you
I'm in a bubble that needs some bursting
I am hungering, I am thirsting
I can't cling to your sweet image
It is faded, I am jaded
This ain't it, I know
Because it's full o' shit

I wish I could give you something all your own
Something you'd hear and think of me
A little celebration of the love I feel for you
To fill your heart with happiness and love for me anew

-- chorus --

You say that you just don't have the time for me
Which tells me just how much I mean to you
I'll forget about the plans for us that I've been thinking of
I'll open up my eyes and stop pretending this is love

-- chorus --
Track Name: drop in the sea
Believe me, sweetheart, I'll love you for always
You will be my baby and nobody else
But now it seems like I gotta be leaving
I just feel so lost like a drop in the sea

You're my everything that is why I sing songs for you
Melodies I hope will keep you near
If you stay next to me you always will be free
So let us take the chance while we've got time

And lay your head next to mine every morning
I just need one reason to keep hanging on
'cause when that ship takes me from you this evening
I'll just feel so lost like a drop in the sea

I'm your grizzly bear but I swear I'd wear chains for you
Every little action has a flaw
But something's gotta change, it's time to rearrange
The checkers on the board have all gone home

So pack the wagon and fill up the tank
We've got us a long trip ahead tonight
Just flush your memories right out to the ocean
Cause a flood with all of the drops in the sea
Track Name: sylvia
This is a song about a woman called Sylvia
She a mean muthah fuckah
A City Bitch

She live in West Oakland in this run down diner
She all alone now; ain't no one else there but her
Her and her man usta run the place
Then he up and die back in '68
Some say he had the virus, but she never tell

Her diner ain't done no business since the tire plant next door
shut down during the recession ten years back
And Sylvia, she don't know what to do
So she shut the place down and make herself up a home

Round and round the dirty water sucks down the drain
Has to do her chores
She feeds the cat, makes the bed
Now her loved ones all are dead and gone

And this is what makes her angry...
This is what makes her blood boil...

All the neighbors say she's quite unstable
Possibly dangerous and unable to take care of little things
Burned out bulbs and apron strings

But Sylvia, I got an idea that you ain't half as crazy
as they make you out to be
You ain't never done me no wrong, and I think I know you just
tryin to cover up all the pain you feelin behind that anger
But you gotta let it go, hon
Get over it, girl
Or else it's just gonna mess you up even more

Sylvia, I wanna know
Why don't you take some time out for a picture show
Stop, drop everything you gotta do
Why don't you stop, drop everything that's bothering you

Sylvia, I think you'll see
You can release old patterns rather easily
You know there ain't no sense in carrying round that load
'cause it'll fuck you up just like a horny toad

Sylvia, take this tip from me
I offer it with love
It may be the key for you...

But then again, maybe not.

So you'll walk the streets
Talkin shit
Scarin kids
Never noticing
That the world continues spinning
And the argument you're winning with yourself never ends
Absent friends haunt your memories
So you do all your driving
With your agitation thriving
Head goes boom
Empty room
No one home
All alone you discover
Hungry cats eating rats
Just like them you can fend for yourself

You don't need a life like this
You can will it all away

Sylvia, I wanna know
Why don't you take some time out for a picture show
Sylvia, I think you'll see
You can release old patterns rather easily

You simply let it go
Watch the falling snow
Lay down softly drift away and dream
Track Name: lose weight deliciously
Many children walk the ground
Some are lost, some are found
Those who flourish find the sun
Those who can't have not begun

Seeds are scattered on the earth
Planted for a springtime birth
Roots begin a downward coil
Searching through the fertile soil

Some will send up tender shoots
Grounded by their healthy roots
Others simply disappear
As if they were never here

Many children walk the ground
Some are lost, some are found
Those who flourish find the sun
Those who can't have not begun
Like the seeds that disappear
Some children are never here
Track Name: recess
She sits in the corner of the summer school playground
Alone with her marbles and her jacks
She never looks up from her private little games
Cautiously avoiding all the cracks

Nary a look from the other little girls
They giggle and they point behind their backs
She's been this way since the accident last fall
And they can not find a cure for her attacks

But Susie Denton knows...
She has a secret...
Track Name: just one solution
Little boys make lots of noise, this one's made his share
Never knew when to shut my mouth, or when to cut my hair
But there always seems to be someone above me
Taking note of my flaws
Pointing out all my imperfections, committed to the cause

There's something about him that isn't quite right
I saw him come out of the wrong door last night
He doesn't think like us, has views of his own
There's just one solution: rebuild from the bone

Social stigmas attach to me, like leeches to the skin
Undesirable parasites are my next of kin
But there always seems to be institutions
For fixing people like me
Ripping out all my keen distinctions, homogenizing me

There's something about him that alters the flow
We fear his ideas and the things that he knows
He socially deviant and far from the norm
There's just one solution: We'll force him to conform

My mistake was attracting attention, made them notice me
I couldn't hide from their inquisition, but I couldn't flee
And now they've pegged me, diagnosed me,
Incorrect, socially
Ruled out all my honest defenses, a defect, mentally

There's something about him that terrifies us
He probes all our soft spots and weakens our thrust
A threat to the family and the American Way
There's just one solution: We'll lock him away
Track Name: doppelganger
I seem to see this stranger almost everywhere
I do not wish to frighten you but you should know he's there
So that if you are threatened, if evil's ever done
You'll know it's him who did it, you'll know that he's the one

His looks are ordinary, but he does things in the dark
He hides inside the shadows watching children in the park
He whispers things in subways, you'd tremble with alarm
I tell you he will get to you, he's out to do you harm

I've seen him in the headlines and on the evening news
I saw him on the sidelines when stones were thrown at Jews
And marching in Montgomery pretending that he cared
I saw him wink, as though some old conspiracy were shared

He was in the crowd at Dallas at the close of Camelot
I spotted him on campus when the students had been shot
In the office of the governor where evil deeds are done
He was hanging out with Wilson killing AB 101

And he was smiling...

Last night I found obscenities scrawled across my wall
I swear I can't repeat the filthy words that I recall
And then the most immoral damned insulting thing of all
As I read each line... I noticed...
his hand writing... was identical...
Track Name: cd collection
Let's say I meet a boy and I'm making a good connection
We go back to my place to show a little affection
But for some reason I can't maintain an erection
I go into the front room so he won't feel rejection
I get hard just looking at my CD collection

Let's say I finally get it up but I don't wear any protection
Two or three weeks later I wind up with an infection
I go to the doctor to give it an inspection
But I can't afford the doctor to give me an injection
Cuz I spent all my money on my CD collection

CD collection, CD collection
I've got a bad complexion and I often feel dejection
I need some psychological correction
And some dermatological dissection
But I'd forgo it all to build my CD collection

Throughout all my years I've done serious introspection
It seems that my life is lacking a direction
I'll probably never attain my goal of spiritual perfection
But I'll die with a bitchin CD collection

CD collection, CD collection
I've got a marvelous selection, I've divided it into sections
When asked for a predilection I don't need time for reflection
I'd forgo it all to build my CD collection

CD collection, CD collection
Confection, detection, resurrection, C-Section
Insurrection, vivisection...
Track Name: tranzmergance
Girlz, Boyz, Girlboyz, Boygirlz
We are everywhere (everywhere!)

Sexuality, Sexuality, doesn't matter to me,
I only crave afternoon tea

I wear high heel shoes, I wear silk stockings
I wear frilly clothes, and I'm just feeling too hot right now
I just want to take all my clothes off
I don't want to wear anything but my stiletto pumps

Girlboyz, Boygirlz,
We are everywhere, and we're changing the world!

Boyz, Girlz, It doesn't matter to me; does it matter to you?

In! (the closet)
Out! (causing a scene)
Here! (in London)
There! (in San Francisco)

Dress up! Diversify! It'll make you want to fly
Reach for the edge of your imagination,
Embrace your true Buddha nature

Have a session and call me in the morning...
Release... release... release your emotions...
Hi... very hiii...

It seems there is a division between men and wymyn
A polarity to resolve between freedom and oppression

Love your Boyness, Love your Girlness
Make a new tranzmergance
Track Name: waiting
Sitting in my favorite chair
Searching my mind I'm starting to find
I need some fresh air

Standing, staring at the sea
Breathing in deep and wishing for sleep
To come over me

Walking on the sandy shore
All of a sudden I see Alan Ludden
Playing "Password" once more

Many times I seek out wide open spaces
Someplace with no limits on my mind
So my thoughts can go wherever they want to
Look straight at the sun and not go blind

Driving, driving in the snow
I can't see the road; my eyes overload
Don't know where to go

Curving, swerving, here I go
Off the overpass and right through the glass
My head hits the road

There are times when my soul needs to transmigrate
Check out other astral planes and see
Life on Earth from somewhere out in the cosmos
Got my card to get out of jail free

Grade essays...
Cook something to eat...
Give them all D's...
And don't use meat...
Do laundry...
Clean out the catbox...
Lay down to sleep...
If I die, before I wake...
I pray to God...
My soul to take...

Fight traffic...
Work out at the gym...
Go to the store...
Try to get slim...
Do Yoga...
Catch up on my sleep...
Lay my head down...
If I wake, before I die...
I pray to God...
My soul to fly...

Mashed potatoes on the floor
I could hardly wait but they fell off of my plate
And there are no more

Bumbling, mumbling a John Wilson song
If anyone could hear they might think I'm a queer
And they wouldn't be wrong

Waiting, waiting, killing time
Whistling and humming, I know my moment's coming
And I feel just fine

Waiting, waiting...
Track Name: not exactly married
Hangin' around at B.B.'s sippin' mouthwash on the rocks
Tryin' to look sexy and keep the spooge off my socks
There's so many gorgeous men here all looking to get laid
And guys who'd like to marry you if you are not afraid...

Now me, I've got a husband but this word he did say:
D. I. V. O. R. C. E. My actions were to blame
So now I'm cruisin' the BlowBuddies scene
Searchin' for a throat I ain't met
Because I'm not exactly married but we're not broken up yet

Now if I was into flirtin' it'd be with someone like you
But I came here for just one thing: Don't talk; just do
Your name is not important; let's cut to the chase
You sure know how to treat a man
But please don't touch my face...

You're into camping, opera and taking moonlight walks
You can never love me if you never hear me talk
Only one man knows me well enough to love my sweat
And we're not exactly married but we're not broken up yet

Got myself a damn good job like I was supposed to do
With life insurance policies, got health and dental too
On the line where it says "spouse" I wrote my partner's name
Thank God it is androgynous so I won't take the blame...

Six months later when the bill comes hospital claims fraud
Seems the head administrator was a man of God
He said, "Two men can't marry." I said, "You wanna bet?"
Though we're not exactly married we haven't broken up yet
Track Name: azt-3-day-illness
Chorus: I've got that AZT 3 day illness again
I've got that AZT 3 day illness again
My doctor's got me poppin' those blue and white pills
Hopin' that he's stoppin' those HIV ills
I've got that AZT 3 day illness again...

Startin' off with one pill, I'm feelin' OK
Day 2 I am queasy and startin' to stray
The third day's when it hits me, my shit starts to flow
My stomach starts a-gurglin' and that's when I know
I've got that AZT 3 day illness again...

Stabilized on one pill, so now we start two
'Cause nothing less than five will do nothing for you
But always on the third day when I double the dose
I feel like a toxic waste dump but that's how it goes
With the AZT 3 day illness again...


Hopin' that I'll hit three and then four and five
Hopin' that this fuckin pill can keep me alive
'Cause even though I'm whinin' I'm not better off dead
So if they ever ask you don't say it ain't never been said
I had that AZT 3 day illness again...

Track Name: skyway to fantasyland
Thought I was in Disneyland or was it just a dream
Over by the submarines or somewhere in between
Only had just one "D" ticket left to go around
With an itch to get away from there, get my feet up off the ground

On the Skyway to Fantasyland
I am with you; you take my hand

Sitting on a foggy beach and listening to the sea
Can't see much of anything; are you still next to me?
Reach my hand out for you and there's nothing there but sand
Said I wanted solitude, but this is more than I can stand

On the Skyway to Fantasyland
I am with you; you take my hand

Now he comes and questions me about reality
Unconvinced that he is in the picture that I see
Always liked amusement parks; they're good for killing time
Especially on my favorite ride; I'm happiest when I'm...

On the Skyway to Fantasyland
I am with you; you take my hand
Track Name: the state you're in
Larry Babe, you've got it made
A voice like that could get you laid
You'll never have to take cold showers
Your larynx possesses penis power
For your beloved you pontificate
You shot the Manchurian Candidate
But now your delegated to the cutout bin
Just look at the shape you're in

Hey Breeder Boy, you want some kicks?
Wanna get drunk and pick up chicks?
I know your life story, it bears no rehashing
Except for the time when you went queer-bashing
A friend of mine got a dent in his head
One more blow and he'd probably be dead
Now your head's a target for my rolling pin
Then you'll find out the shape you're in

Out of one body and into another
Lose a friend and gain a grandmother
Spin the wheel of fortune tonight
Pause at the corner, then take the next right
Pick up where you left off the last time
Then you were deaf and now you're blind
All your past lessons erase future sins
Reflecting the state you're in

Astral travel Garrapata Beach
Comprehension just out of reach
A message from beyond the grave
Tracy, Ziad, Sally, Dave
(They say:) Hope you're well, keep plugging away
Our energies will merge another day
Until then inquire within
Ponder the state you're in