a musical history of jilted women

I was listening to the radio while stuffing envelopes this morning, and heard “My World Is Empty Without You” by The Supremes… and listened to the lyrics, filled with the despair of a woman who has lost her man… in the 60s. And I realized, this song was written by men! And Diana Ross, who would later become the Superdiva, is singing about how worthless her life is without her man in it… “I need your strength/I need your tender touch/I need the love dear/I miss so much.” WHAT?

After the song, I got to thinking about how much young women have changed in the face of breakups. I remember, when I was in high school… when you got dumped, you busted out Jagged Little Pill and crank up “You Oughta Know”. Probably lots of twentysomethings who were teenagers when Alanis recorded that angsty little gem still listen to it from time to time, just to keep their rage sharpened…

What happened in between Diana Ross and Alanis Morrissette? The women’s lib movement, sure, but musically… what changed? We had Thelma Houston getting sad people to hit the dance floor with “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” but that leans more on the Diana end of the spectrum. Probably the most in the middle I can think of is Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield,” which seems to be a mostly confused, somewhat angry anthem of does-he-or-doesn’t-he sentiment. And of course there’s the entirely separate and parallel track of country music, which gave us “Stand By Your Man,” etc.

Of course, while I wax philosophical on where music has taken us emotionally as women, I’m listening to “Mrs. Brown, You Have a Lovely Daughter” by Herman’s Hermits. HA… that could launch a whole ‘nother entry on silly songs by jilted men. It kind of breaks your heart for this guy, really… “I’d go down on my knees, but it’s no good to pine.”


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