Song Lyric Sunday #42

This week’s prompt is a comparison between two songs, but which two shall I choose in response to Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge? Probably, two different versions of the same song, but which one? When in doubt, my default is always to pick one by Lenny Kravitz.  It’s only recently that I learned Lenny’s version of American Woman is a cover!

American Woman was originally released by the Canadian rock band The Guess Who in March 1970, from their sixth studio album of the same name. It reached number one for three weeks commencing 9 May on both the United States’ Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian RPM magazine singles chart. It also reached the top ten in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria, and the top twenty in the UK and New Zealand.

The song’s lyrics have been the matter of debate, often interpreted as an attack on US politics. The band’s vocalist and song composer Burton Cummings said that the lyrics had nothing to do with politics.

What was on my mind was that girls in the States seemed to get older quicker than our girls and that made them, well, dangerous. When I said ‘American woman, stay away from me,’ I really meant ‘Canadian woman, I prefer you.’ It was all a happy accident.

Jim Kale, the group’s bassist, explained his take on the lyrics:

The war [in Vietnam] was going on, and was terribly unpopular. We didn’t have a draft system in Canada, and we were grateful for that. A lot of people called it anti-American, but it wasn’t really. We weren’t anti-anything. John Lennon once said that the meanings of all songs come after they are recorded. Someone else has to interpret them.

As I mentiond above, one of the song’s most notable covers is Lenny Kravitz’s 1999 version recorded for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. It was released as a single and later included in the 1999 reissue of Kravitz’s album 5. Kravitz’s version is slower and softer than the original, without the signature guitar solo; he later said to Randy Bachman that the reason he skipped the lead guitar part was:

I couldn’t get the sound. I couldn’t get the tone.

The cover reached the top 20 in Australia, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, and Spain, as well as number 26 in Canada and number 49 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The music video (directed by Paul Hunter) featured actress Heather Graham (who starred in The Spy Who Shagged Me); the original political themes of the song were largely replaced by sex appeal.

In 1999, Kravitz and his band were joined by The Guess Who for a live performance of “American Woman” at the MuchMusic Video Awards.

Lyrics: American Woman

Huh, American woman, stay away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come hanging ’round my door
I don’t wanna see your face no more
I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin’ old with you
Now woman, stay away
American woman, listen what I say
American woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come knocking ’round my door
I don’t wanna see your shadow no more
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away
American woman, listen what I say
American woman, I said, get away
American woman, listen what I say
Don’t come hanging ’round my door
Don’t want to see your face no more
I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away
American woman, listen what I say
American woman, stay away from me
American woman, mama let me be
I gotta go, I gotta get away
Baby, I gotta go, I wanna fly away
I’m gonna leave you, woman
I’m gonna leave you, woman
I’m gonna leave you, woman
I’m gonna leave you, woman
A-bye, bye, a-bye, bye
Bye bye, bye bye
You’re no good for me and I’m no good for you
(American woman)
I look you right straight in the eye an’ tell you what I’m gonna do
I’m gonna leave you woman, you know I gotta go
(American woman)
I’m gonna leave you woman, I gotta go
I gotta go, I gotta go American woman, yeah

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Randy Bachman / Burton Cummings / Gary Peterson / Michael Kale

Challenge Rules

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to Jim’s post or place your link in his comments section.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Most of all, have fun and enjoy the music.

7 Comments on “Song Lyric Sunday #42

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