Well, here we are again it seems. After an extended hiatus I finally managed to have enough inspiration (for some reason) to write another little piece of opinion. This time, however, the difference is that it’s coming from a slightly different country.
Today I was messaged one of those ‘viral thread’ videos by a friend of mine, this one a supermontage of songs from 1997 with the brilliant caption “THESE SONGS ARE 20 YEARS OLD FEEL OLD YET?”. Unfortunately for me, almost twenty myself, I had heard all of the songs in question and highly rate a number of them. The thing that struck me the most about this two-and-a-bit minute clip was one particular song that I had heard time and time again, but strangely enough for me I had no idea the name of the song nor the artist. One quick google search later (the search, for those interested, was “hit songs of 1997”) and I found it.
‘Your Woman’ by White Town.
Now, it’s not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, but the thing that struck me the most was the peculiar voice it takes. This song, sung by a man in the late nineties, is told from a woman’s point of view – and come to think of it, it’s a peculiarity that really doesn’t happen all too often. It’s not even man as woman, but even a direct first person woman as man narrative is highly irregular. I struggle myself to think of another good example for the same structure, and I think there’s a good reason why not.
In my eyes, at least, music is an extraordinary means of self expression, and it always has been. From a contemporary standpoint, western music has tended to be an emotional affair harkening back to orchestral composers, and as popular music evolved and became more and more widely accessible the emotional element became easier for the majority to access and subsequently find a sympathetic voice in. The more widely reciprocated the emotional context, the more people will find solace in the music. This leads somewhat to the voice found in ‘Your Woman’.
Although it cannot be denied that men have felt like the opposite sex have expressed the “I could never be your woman” sentiment, it’s not entirely the most common thought process nor is it the sort of direction a number would take. Think of how often you’ve heard a song by a male artist (or male songwriter) that complains about the way a woman has acted, or brushes it off, or does anything but directly talk about it from the woman’s point of view. It’s just what people would rather hear – that or another song to try and woo them, win them back or lament a lost love. They’re cliches that people can associate with and, not to put it simply, want to hear. People don’t usually want to hear something from the opposite point of view. Hate to say it, but people are kinda one way streets like that.
I could go on and compare this sensation to other prevalent issues today *cough anti-vaxers the fanatic religious political divides racism cough* where walking in the other’s shoes tends to be avoided, but it’s that brand of thinking that prevents something like music from discussing it in a properly thought out and sensible manner.
That and not everyone is a Marxist nowadays, sorry White Town, sorry.