ISO songs about a woman/women that do not refer to them as girl/girls
April 23, 2020 6:56 PM   Subscribe

I want to create a playlist that avoids grating on my last nerve.

E.g., I love Bruce, but my blood runs cold when I hear "Hey, little girl is your daddy home..." in a song about how he's "on fire" for the subject of the song. Similarly, I love that Tom Petty song about the woman who is "all I need tonight"—would love it more if it wasn't "Here Come My Girl".

Bonus points for song writers who consistently refer to the female adults of our species as women.
posted by she's not there to Writing & Language (33 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Warren Zevon, "Hasten Down The Wind"
posted by thelonius at 7:19 PM on April 23, 2020

“American Woman” by the Guess Who, though I prefer the Butthole Surfers version.
posted by ejs at 7:24 PM on April 23, 2020

“She’s Always a Woman To Me” by Billy Joel
posted by ejs at 7:26 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for romantic or sexy songs, specifically? And only for songs by men? Certainly there's plenty of women who write about women who don't use these tropes, but my sense is you're looking for something more narrow.

Anyhow, here's a few from one of my faves, Jason Isbell:

The Life You Chose
Hudson Commodore
Something to Love (uses "girl" once, to refer to his young daughter)
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:26 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

“Oh Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison includes one use of “baby,” is that disqualifying?
posted by ejs at 7:34 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Angel From Montgomery starts off “I am an old woman” tho later on Prine sings “When I was a young girl, I had me a cowboy...”
posted by carterk at 7:38 PM on April 23, 2020

Does "Lady" count? Because if so, here's Kenny Rogers.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:51 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Conversely, if "lady" is just as annoying or even worse than "girl," as it is for me, there's always "lay, lady, lay" which compounds the infuriating insult by using lay when it should be lie! Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaheadexplodesaaa!
posted by Don Pepino at 8:38 PM on April 23, 2020 [5 favorites]

Not perfect in vocabulary but perhaps in kind with respect to spirit, Peggy Seeger's Gonna be an Engineer.
posted by jjray at 8:46 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Woman - John Lennon
I'm a Mother - The Pretenders
A Woman, A Lover, A Friend - Jackie Wilson
W.O.M.A.N. - Etta James
posted by brookeb at 8:47 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Having made a quick pass through my current playlists for songs that specifically call a woman a woman, I came up with:

You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
I and Love and You - The Avett Brothers
The Woman in You - Ben Harper
Ain't No Woman Like the One I've Got - The Four Tops
Jezebel - Iron & Wine
You Don't Know - Jim Byrnes
Do Ya - Matthew Sweet
A Good Woman Is Hard to Find - Morphine
Shaking the Tree - Peter Gabriel
Snake Farm - Ray Wylie Hubbard
Drunken Poet's Dream - Ray Wylie Hubbard
Black Magic Woman - Santana
Sweetsexywoman - Sophie B. Hawkins
Take It With Me - Tom Waits
posted by northernish at 8:54 PM on April 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

Kentucky Woman -- Neil Diamond
Devil Woman -- Cliff Richard
posted by NotLost at 8:59 PM on April 23, 2020

Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady -- Helen Reddy
She's a Lady -- Tom Jones
The Woman in Me (Needs the Man in You) -- Shania Twain
The Woman in You -- Bee Gees
Woman to Woman -- Shirley Brown
Woman -- John Lennon
Man! I Feel Like a Woman -- Shania Twain
When a Man Loves a Woman -- Percy Sledge
L.A. Woman -- The Doors
Evil Woman -- Electric Light Orchestra
You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman -- Aretha Franklin
Oh, Pretty Woman -- Roy Orbison
I am Woman -- Helen Reddy
No Woman, No Cry -- Bob Marley
posted by NotLost at 9:14 PM on April 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

The easy thing here is listen to music not written by men in the later 20th century. I am another someone who finds "baby" "lady" and "girl" extremely lyrically annoying, decreasingly so in that order.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:48 PM on April 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

“When a Man Loves a Woman” does indeed have a line referring to a woman as a girl. And I don’t think “Evil Woman” or “No Woman No Cry” fit the implicit ask of songs about people singing the praises of women while not infantilizing them as girls.
posted by ejs at 11:00 PM on April 23, 2020

Response by poster: I'm primarily looking for romantic songs, but also interested in other examples.

"Baby" doesn't bother me. "Babe/baby" is a general term of affection in my family, i.e., applied to pets, children who are no longer infants, and significant others. I'm not crazy about "lady", but at least it refers to an age-appropriate woman in a love song.

Re "Always a Woman to Me"—ironically, the subject of the song seems to be behaving extraordinarily childishly.
posted by she's not there at 1:04 AM on April 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Does it have to actually use the word woman?

Neil Young’s Harvest Moon album springs to mind. The title track as well as Unknown Legend and Such a Woman.

Eric Clapton — Layla, Wonderful Tonight. I think there is a drive-by ”lady” in the latter.
posted by bluebird at 3:07 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

because every constrained list needs a killer exception to bring it all together....
Rebel Girl - Bikini Kill
posted by kokaku at 4:05 AM on April 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Lady in Red -- Chris de Burgh
posted by NotLost at 6:31 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

A New Jersey lady I knew long ago
She was a lady, I say
She met a cowboy who rode on the rodeo
And he stole her heart straight away

Lyle Lovett, “Walk Through the Bottomland”
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:54 AM on April 24, 2020

She cuts you hard, she cuts you deep,
She's got so much skill
She's so fascinating that you're still there waiting
When she comes back for the kill
You've been slashed in the face
You've been left there to bleed
You want to run away
But you know you're gonna stay
'Cause she gives you what you need

Billy Joel - “Stiletto”
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:00 AM on April 24, 2020

Cat Stevens, "Hard Headed Woman"?
posted by eirias at 8:33 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I Am Woman - Helen Reddy?
posted by sundrop at 8:37 AM on April 24, 2020

I'm Every Woman - Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:12 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Feels Like the First Time - Foreigner
posted by slmorri at 9:32 AM on April 24, 2020

Back to Tom Petty, A Woman in Love
Foreigner -- Feels Like the First Time
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2020

"Weekend Woman" by Weezer. (Rivers Cuomo mentioned during the promotion of this album that he was trying to go the entire record without writing "Girl," so I'm guessing this song was Weekend Girl at some point.)
posted by Polycarp at 12:37 PM on April 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Women by Def Leppard, the first track off Hysteria. There might be a "girls" near the end of the lyrics, but Mutt Lange mixed it so heavy that I can't make it out
posted by Sunburnt at 12:58 PM on April 24, 2020

eurythmics "sisters are doin' it for themselves"
posted by brujita at 2:48 PM on April 24, 2020

I was down in Whiskey River
Stopped in for a drink
Minding my own business
Trying not to think
Bartender came over with a shot of his best
Said “This one’s from the lady in the long black dress”
- Christian Kane, “Whiskey In Mind”
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:15 PM on April 24, 2020

I’m a bad woman to keep
Make me mad, I’m not here to please
Paint me in a corner but my color comes back
Once you go black, you never go back
-Gin Wigmore, “Black Sheep”
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:23 PM on April 24, 2020

Right Down the Line by Gerry Rafferty, all though from some inexplicable reason he pronounces it "woo-man" which could be either a positive or a negative depending on your taste.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:11 AM on April 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also: Long Cool Woman by the Hollies.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 6:37 AM on April 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

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