Friday, December 19, 2008

The Evil Woman as Muse

The rising popularity of feminism in the early 70s must have struck a chord in songwriters because we had quite a lot of radio hits dedicated to bad ladies. Why were they bad? They hurt the songwriters emotionally. Some were downright evil, as evidenced by ELO in 1975.



For Cliff Richard, she wasn't merely evil, she was actually the devil—a Devil Woman to be precise. As I child I bought the sheet music, which looked all right in our suburban family room, propped up on the antique upright piano that my Mom painted completely white to go with the white vinyl couch. The cover photo featured handsome Cliff, dressed in a blue velvet pantsuit with a white ruffled collar. Unknown to me, I had really campy musical taste at age twelve.



The Eagles were held spellbound in the night by the dancing shadows, raven hair and ruby lips of the Witchy Woman. Was it the sparks flying from her finger tips? The moon in her eye? Who wouldn't want to be rocked in the nighttime 'til your skin turns red? Woo hooo!



Let's not leave out the ladies. They're inspired by ladies too. In Cher's case, by Dark Lady.



There's a twisted little animated version of this song too, from Cher's variety show. I LOVED these little cartoons when I was a kid. Cher was all kinds of awesome to me, with her limp-wristed stage presence, dark features, and wry comic delivery--there was no one like her on television. Give it up for Cher.

Here's Dolly Parton calling out Jolene. Is Jolene potentially evil? Or is Dolly's man extremely weak-willed? Either scenario would not be a beneficial prospect for our protagonist.



By 1977, Blondie was reinventing the evil woman genre, if there ever was such a thing. Debbie Harry deadpans about an insufferable lady. But who's the bad girl? The unnamed irritant she sings about, or Debbie Harry herself, who urges us to Rip Her To Shreds? Meta-evil woman!



Who continues to follow the evil woman muse today? Pink, of course—satirical, genre-blending, obnoxious, singular and melodically intelligent. Someone give this woman a variety show. She sings of herself as the evil woman and she's very happy to do so.

1 comment:

Jean-Luc said...

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