Songs for Emma is a band that takes its name from activist Emma Goldman, an American radical and anarchist who was born in 1869 and died in 1940. She was jailed many times, and publicly worked in favor of birth control during a time when it was not even spoken of privately. She also advocated the organization of unions, free speech, and a shorter workday when an eight-hour shift was unheard of. She also spoke out for women's rights.
Songs for Emma is comprised of guitarist Mike Millett, drummer Diane Glaub, lead guitarist and vocalist Tommy Strange, and backup vocalist and bass player Raum Palacios. They refer to themselves not as artists or singers or musicians, but as workers. They gravitate to outfits in the colors of black and red. The band evolved out of Strange's group Strawman. Glaub and Strange previously worked together in a group named Ragged Bags in Ohio, during the early '80s. Glaub's previous credits also include the Lottery album from Strawman, and membership in the Betty's in 1982. Millett's credits include A.P.P.L.E., a New York outfit in the 1980s, as well as a group named Buttafuoco. Palacios put in time with groups called AC 220, Conduit Up Yer Ass, and Re-Bar.