Always a Woman to Whom?

Many people think that Billy Joel’s song Always a Woman is about a dysfunctional relationship: about a woman who is cruel to her lover. They think that it is about loving a woman despite her flaws. It’s not! The song is really Billy Joel’s mockery of people who underestimated the business acumen of his first wife, Elizabeth Weber, who was also his business manager. Pay careful attention to the pronouns in the lyrics. He talks about how deceptive and cruel “she” can be to “you.” He then contrasts that with the statement “she’s always a woman to me.” Notice that the song never says that she was cruel to “me,” only to “you.”

Always a Woman was released in 1977, which was in the heyday of the Women’s Liberation Movement. Back then, many men still assumed that the woman’s role was simply to type up contracts, not to negotiate them. Evidently, some music industry executives expected that Joel’s wife would be a pushover. Perhaps some of them thought that Weber’s toughness was unwomanly. Joel thought otherwise.

Photo by Mark Morgan Trinidad B

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