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American Woman

The Guess Who
Language: English


Related Songs

Woodstock
(Joni Mitchell)
Mr. Cab Driver
(Lenny Kravitz)
Almost Cut My Hair
(Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)


(1970)

American Woman45

The war dominated those newscasts, yet the radio allowed you to escape from it all. Nothing heavy there, save for two songs.

Forty years ago this week, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young dreamed of bombers turning into butterflies and getting back to the garden.

That week, millions of Americans also embraced a song that declared:

“I don’t need your war machines. I don’t need your ghetto scenes.”


“American Woman” by the Guess Who endures, a great song on so many levels. Think of the song and you think of Burton Cummings spitting out angry lyrics and Randy Bachman grinding out freaky guitar fills. True enough, but the pulse, the cadence, the urgency of the song comes from Jim Kale and Garry Peterson, who drive the whole thing on bass and drums, respectively.

What’s it all about? Bachman explained it this way in a 2008 interview on the Gibson guitar website:

“A lot of people thought ‘American Woman’ was addressing the woman on the street, but it wasn’t at all. The band had witnessed all the desolation going on in America, where there were hardly any young men in any of the towns we went to. They had all been drafted. We would see 18-year-old guys at the airports, with their buzz cuts and their uniforms, with their fathers telling them how proud they were, and their mothers and sisters in tears. It was heartbreaking. So instead of singing ‘Uncle Sam, stay away from me,’ or ‘Richard Nixon, stay away from me,’ it was ‘American woman.’ … Fortunately, by the time radio and the government understood that the song was an anti-war song, it had already reached No. 1.”


The outrage vented in “American Woman” hasn’t diminished a bit. It was there when Lenny Kravitz cranked out his terrific cover in 1999.

(That 70's song - vols 15 and 16)

*

The song's lyrics have been the matter of some debate, often interpreted as an attack on U.S. politics (especially the draft). Jim Kale, the group's bassist and the song's co-author, explained his take on the lyrics:

“ The popular misconception was that it was a chauvinistic tune, which was anything but the case. The fact was, we came from a very strait-laced, conservative, laid-back country, and all of a sudden, there we were in Chicago, Detroit, New York — all these horrendously large places with their big city problems. After that one particularly grinding tour, it was just a real treat to go home and see the girls we had grown up with. Also, the war was going on, and that 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. ”


Another furtherance of the anti-war theme of the song stems from the fact that the Guess Who was a Canadian band, resulting in speculation that the line "I don't need your war machine" reveals the narrator to be a draft-dodger who had fled to Canada and is addressing a female United States armed-forces recruiter assigned to bring him back home—either in uniform or in shackles

(Wikipedia)
American woman gonna mess your mind
American woman, she gonna mess your mind
American woman gonna mess your mind
American woman gonna mess your mind
Say A,
Say M,
Say E,
Say R,
Say I,
C,
Say A,
N,
American woman gonna mess your mind
American woman gonna mess your mind
American woman gonna mess your mind

American woman, stay away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come hangin’ around 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

American woman, listen what I say.

American woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come knockin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, I said get away
American woman, listen what I say.

American woman, said get away
American woman, listen what I say
Don’t come hangin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your face no more
I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be.

Go, gotta get away, gotta get away
Now go go go
Gonna leave you, woman
Gonna leave you, woman
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
You’re no good for me
I’m no good for you
Gonna look you right in the eye.
Tell you what I’m gonna do
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go, woman
I’m gonna leave, woman
Goodbye, American woman
Goodbye, American chick
Goodbye, American broad ...

Contributed by Lorenzo Masetti - 2010/5/9 - 16:50



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