Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ROCK Sex: "I'm A Woman" - Peggy Lee > Helen Reddy > Yoko Ono > Chaka Khan > Neneh Cherry

ROCK Sex knows that "woman is the other half of the sky".


Yesterday we followed how the threadline of the statement "I'm a Man!" twines through pop music. Today we tilt through more of the human quilt with the statement "I'm a Woman!"

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote dozens of classic Rock'n'Roll songs, including "I'm A Woman". This used the same blues vamp as Muddy Waters "Hoochie Coochie Man", which of course was the inspiration for Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man".

Here's a version from the 1995 Broadway show based on Leiber & Stoller's many hits:


When it was written in 1962, Peggy Lee scored the chartbuster with it, becoming a key song in her repertoire:

PEGGY LEE -"I'm a Woman" (1962)

In 1972, Helen Reddy hit #1 during the rise of Women's Liberation with this empowerment anthem, a different song with a similar name and more advanced outlook:

HELEN REDDY -"I Am Woman" (1972)

Bar none, Yoko Ono was the strongest Feminist in Rock history, one of the actual reasons she is still resented by dwindling lunkheads. In her work "the personal was political" and she took the full brunt of dumb hate while opening the door for The Slits, The Au Pairs, The Poison Girls, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordan, Bikini Kill, The Gits, Tribe 8, MeShell Ndegeocello, Le Tigre, and Pussy Riot after her:

YOKO ONO -"Woman Power" (1973)

(The Soul Power choruses anticipate the same move in the 1976 "Wonder Woman" theme.)

As a parallel track to that, there's John Lennon. As a young man he wrote the song "Girl", a catchy ode with a young man's attitude. Here's another take on that:

NIKKI CHORE -"Girl" (2007)

Later, as his politics became more sophisticated, he joined his wife Yoko in the humanist struggle for empowerment, and made a "grown-up" response to his earlier song:

JOHN LENNON -"Woman" (1980)

Here's Neneh Cherry with a different song of the same name that has very Lennon-esque use of ballad pace and chamber strings:

NENEH CHERRY -"Woman" (1996)

If Peggy and Helen sung as one strong person that many women identified with, then Chaka Khan decided to be completely universal in this classic:

CHAKA KHAN- "I'm Every Woman" (1978)

Broadening the concept even deeper are artists beyond gender parameters.


DAME EDNA & kd lang - "I'm Every Woman" (2008)

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist

ROCK Sex: "I'm A Man"

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