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Terrible song lyrics

July 30, 2017

I was listening to a Billy Joel song on the radio in the car today, and was brought up short by one of the silliest song lyrics I’ve ever heard. The song was She’s Always a Woman to Me (a pretty silly title to start with, one might note in passing – what’s it supposed to mean?). Most of the lyrics are either trite or nonsensical, but for me the stand-out moment of shit was the couplet: “She’ll promise you more than the Garden of Eden/ Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleedin’”.

Say what? Just run that past me again, Billy. “She’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleedin’”. This is a song about a psychopath, right? She casually severs one of your arteries with a breadknife and then giggles about it as your life-blood drains away. So the message would be to stay well away from her? But no, the general impression one gets is that it is supposed to be a love song. The singer actually likes this dangerous and unpleasant person because – despite her callous disregard for others’ pain – she’s “always a woman” to him. So that’s all right, then…

I’ll be back with more on terrible song lyrics soon.

P.S. May I bring to your attention my comic fantasy YA novel The Infinite Powers of Adam Gowers – here is the link: https://unbound.com/books/adam-gowers . Go there and you will see a neat little 2-minute video of me explaining why the time for this novel has come! And if you support it you will get your name in the back and an invitation to the launch party.

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5 Comments
  1. unfortunately I’ve been told by several now ex partners that I’m like the woman in that song but they perceived it slightly more differently than you! Maybe he was struggling with his sexuality and was just making sure she was always a woman to him?!

  2. Mark Brafield permalink

    I was recently genuinely upset to learn of the death of Peter Skellern, who enjoyed a certain celebrity in the 1970’s with ‘You’re a lady, I’m a man’ (1973). A beautiful song, looking back to the craftsmanship of the great 1930’s songwriters, with neatly – turned lyrics and a wonderfully elegant harmonic sequence betraying Skellern’s classical background as a piano student at the Royal Academy. (His obituary was moving; he died of a brain tumour only a few months after being ordained as a priest). I am listening to it on You Tube now, and it still has the power to move me. ‘You’re a lady, I’m a man…you’re supposed to…understand…how these things are …often planned to be’. Anyway, the point of this is that I was telling my aunt how much I loved the song when she dashed my enthusiasm by saying that the title of the song sounded like he was trying so hard to convince himself.

  3. Yes – it is a lovely song, but difficult to see it in the same light after that comment!

  4. Deborah Smith permalink

    Oh no, I’ve always loved this song, but I must admit, I’ve never really thought much about the actual lyrics before now! Funnily enough though, I have often wondered how other singer/songwriters got away with their efforts in some songs! I do actually have a family friend who’s written many songs, I now feel compelled to question him on his work! Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on terrible song lyrics. Debbie xx

  5. Simon Carter permalink

    I’ve always assumed this was just a bit of poetic license. He loves this girl so much that he’s ignoring all the signs. And also she doesn’t love him back so he’s acknowledging things aren’t going to work out.

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