April 5, 2018

"Bob Dylan is among six acts appearing on a new compilation EP that features 'reimagined' versions of traditional wedding songs for same-sex couples."

"Universal Love opens with Dylan’s rendition of the 1929 great American songbook classic She’s Funny That Way, revamped as He’s Funny That Way... The compilation also features contributions from St Vincent (AKA Annie Clark), who turns the Crystals’ And Then He Kissed Me into And Then She Kissed Me. Kesha flips the pronouns on Janis Joplin’s I Need a Man to Love, as does Valerie June on Noël Coward’s Mad About the Boy."

The Guardian reports.

That reminds me, on "American Idol" this week, one contestant, Marcio Donaldson sang "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Man," and the smart-ass writer at New York Magazine wrote:
Marcio Donaldson, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”

I almost enjoyed this. I’m all for a man owning the Carole King-penned Aretha classic and belting the words “You make me feel like a natural woman” as Carole intended. But no. Marcio Donaldson had the nerve to change the lyrics to “You make me feel like a natural MAN,” which is… pretty stupid, Marcio. What does “You make me feel like a natural man” even mean? And who cares? Stay tuned in the semifinals for Marcio to tackle Cyndi Lauper’s hit “Men Also Enjoy Fun, OK?” and Madonna’s pop classic “Material Person.”
Carole King-penned... Carole intended... Is Gerry Goffin simply invisible? From the Wikipedia page for the song:
Written by the celebrated partnership of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, the song was inspired by Atlantic Records co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler. As recounted in his autobiography, Wexler, a student of African-American musical culture, had been mulling over the concept of the "natural man", when he drove by King on the streets of New York. He shouted out to her that he wanted a "natural woman" song for Aretha Franklin's next album. In thanks, Goffin and King granted Wexler a co-writing credit.
Ah! So the original idea was the "natural man"!  And men outnumber the woman on the credits to the song. There's Gerry and Jerry. And they're all white people thinking about black people. So what, really, is the original intent? And even if it was a woman — or, specifically, Aretha — what's wrong with extending the idea to a man? Aretha famously flipped the sexes when she sang Otis Redding's song, "Respect."

Did it take "nerve" for Marcio Donaldson to change the lyrics? Are the changed lyrics "stupid"? Does the smart-ass writer at New York magazine (Louis Virtel) think the "Universal Love" project, with all the change-of-sex lyrics is stupid? He mocks —  “Men Also Enjoy Fun, OK?”  “Material Person" — but will he mock Dylan's "He's Funny that Way" and St Vincent's "And Then She Kissed Me"?

And does the smart-ass Virtel know that Rod Stewart sang "(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Man," on his 1974 album "Smiler"? It's not a new concept. Rod's version is fantastic. Listen.

On this blog in 2004, we were talking about "Songs transformed with the sex of the singer." Tori Amos had come up with a list of 20 songs, and I said:
The classic example of a man singing a woman's song is Frank Sinatra singing Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me." He's forced to sacrifice the most beautiful couplet -- "Although he may not be the man some/girls think of as handsome" -- but singing words that are an entirely conventional woman's dream, Sinatra lets us see a shocking, haunting vulnerability.
Virtel betrays some woeful sexism when he asks "What does 'You make me feel like a natural man' even mean?" Is the "natural" condition something special for women, some notion that women have more "nature" in them or that Nature is a woman (Mother Nature) and that The Male is something else — something like Civilization and Order? If that's what underlies the question "What does 'You make me feel like a natural man' even mean?," then I wonder if he knows there's another song, "Natural Man," written by comedian Sandy Baron and singer Bobby Hebb and recorded by Lou Rawls, who won a Grammy for it in 1971. Listen here. Lyrics:
Well now, I tried to do what others say that I should do
They say that I should fit in, fool em, fake it
Those kinda dues just make me crazy and blue, man, I just can't take it
So when you see me walkin, won't you notice that proud look in my eyes
My feet are on the ground and my soul is searching for the sky...
Anyway, Marcio Donaldson is one of the top 24 on "American Idol." Here he is singing the Goffin/King/Wexler "Natural Man":

34 comments:

Rob said...

Isn't the whole concept of a "natural woman" or "natural man" offensive in these gender-bending days? Is someone who is biologically male but identifies as a woman an unnatural woman, less authentic than a natural woman? There be dragons.

Jon said...

Hey, everybody (including our natural hostess), this crap will soon pass. They aren't serious about it, it's just like a bunch of kids got some new toys, and when they get a bit scratched and dented, they will find some new ones.

I hope.

hombre said...

Natural man, natural woman, meh. What’s the difference? In the absence of a good right hook gender is just a social construct anyway.

Ken B said...

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110632/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Mike Sylwester said...

Wedding receptions often feature the newly-weds dancing to the song "Time of My Life" from the movie Dirty Dancing. In my blog about the movie, I have a post titled "Lesbians Dancing to 'Time of My Life' at Their Weddings".

http://dirty-dancing-analysis.blogspot.com/2017/09/lesbians-dancing-to-time-of-my-life-at.html

William said...

Lorenz Hart is my favorite lyricist. I think only a gay, alcoholic midget can have a true understanding of how ephemeral and ultimately futile is the joy we find in romantic moments......Some of his lyrics can be understood as gay purposed. "There's a small hotel....where funny people can have fun.....It could be oh so gay junior....let's run away and have fun".......I think Cole Porter, also, has a number of lyrics that are sufficiently gay in their subtext. There has been no shortage of gay songwriters who wrote about their yearnings and emptiness. Courtly love. Gay couplings. All roads lead to Babylon.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Virtel betrays some woeful sexism when he asks "What does 'You make me feel like a natural man' even mean?"

I think Louis Virtel should be forced to explain what 'You make me feel like a natural woman' means before he can ask the above question.

Of course I only say this because he can't, but it would be fun to watch him sputter for a while while his ego slowly deflates.

CWJ said...

Funny, but I don't know any "traditional wedding songs for same-sex couples," and gay weddings are so new, why would they need reimagining?

I had to read it twice before I got the intended meaning.

Paul Mac said...

I love when the politically correct classes appropriate things (even their own sometimes) to virtue signal. We need more black Annie's, female Ghostbusters, and other indications of their general lack of originality.

That the ticket, the best way to really show folks that science and/or religion be damned, feelings are all that matter in determining gender, ability, sexuality.

Ann Althouse said...

"Isn't the whole concept of a "natural woman" or "natural man" offensive in these gender-bending days? Is someone who is biologically male but identifies as a woman an unnatural woman, less authentic than a natural woman? There be dragons."

I think it's a pro-transgender song. If you sing about how you feel genderwise, you're saying gender is a condition of the mind. It's like "Like a Virgin." She's not a virgin, but she feels like one, "shiny and new," and that's what really matters. So if "you make me feel like a natural woman," it's not necessarily that I have the XX chromosome or no penis, but that there's a womanly feeling that I have my own subjective experience of and I'm celebrating.

Ann Althouse said...

I assume the original context for "natural" that Wexler was thinking about was the the natural hair movement. The word makes perfect sense there and stood for a more general concept of freedom, comfort, and self-esteem.

Ann Althouse said...

The Lou Rawls song has the same idea of natural: Be yourself. Don't be fake.

This fit with the white culture of the time too, the hippie movement, which also had natural hair and was against everything fake and commercial and encouraged people to be free, easy, and comfortable with whoever they were: Let you freak flag fly, let it all hang out, whatever turns you on, if it feels good do it...

Ken B said...

... if it feels good slaughter Sharon Tate ...

SeanF said...

Universal Love opens with Dylan’s rendition of the 1929 great American songbook classic She’s Funny That Way, revamped as He’s Funny That Way... The compilation also features contributions from St Vincent (AKA Annie Clark), who turns the Crystals’ And Then He Kissed Me into And Then She Kissed Me. Kesha flips the pronouns on Janis Joplin’s I Need a Man to Love, as does Valerie June on Noël Coward’s Mad About the Boy.

Why didn't they just have someone of a different gender sing the song? They could've had St Vincent sing "She's Funny That Way" and Dylan sing "And Then He Kissed Me" and they wouldn't have had to change the songs.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

The only think being torn down are psychological edifices that form the mental superstructure of insecurities and inadequacies.

Howard said...

Anti gay transphobia is a form of nihilism practiced by the right.

Howard said...

So, perhaps natural woman or man or Xe applied in a trans environment is an expression of surgeryphobia and therefore oppressive.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Static Ping said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

Janis Joplin did it with Chris Kristofferson's eponymous ballad "Me and Bobby McGee".

Static Ping said...

Old hat and dumb. Joan Jett covered "Crimson and Clover" without changing the genders in 1981.

The fact that Bob Dylan, one of the greatest singer-song writers of all time, and Ke$ha, probably the greatest hack to ever have a #1 hit, are on the same album is an offense to the music gods. I remember reading a review of Ke$ha's first album. The reviewer was convinced it was a practical joke. She's basically a somewhat pretty girl with a drunk slut image tinkering with autotune. She's talentless and, frankly, annoying.

I remember looking through the "on sale" music albums on Amazon years ago. There was an el cheapo music collection of wedding music, probably all public domain and no name covers. Several pages later there was an el cheapo music collection of gay wedding music. Best I can tell the albums were exactly the same other than the different title and album art, which is very easy to swap out when sold as a digital product. So, basically, this album is pointless except as a curiosity. Here, have something no one wanted or needed, but virtue!

Howard said...

Do you like how I casually threw in a completely unnecessary $10 word?

walter said...

Gaga's Born this way is potentially trans-hostile.
Remember when..
Gaga gives Weird Al Caca

n.n said...

Sex: male, female, is binary. Gender: masculine, feminine, is a set of physical and mental (e.g. sexual orientation) attributes that is closely correlated with sex. The conflation of the two is common in the Pro-Choice sects, that has progressed through political congruence ("=") or selective exclusion activism (e.g. democracy dies with a transgender judge ruling).

walter said...

Howard,
I'm surprised you had an $ left after your 10:42.
Another spiel that gets better with a German accent.

Quaestor said...

What kind of "natural man" (or woman) did Goffin have in mind when he wrote those lyrics, Hobbes' nasty and brutish thug or Rousseau's noble savage? And just what is an unnatural man? A trans freak? A sewn-together monstrosity à la Wollstonecraft Shelley? An android?

Quaestor said...

I think it's a pro-transgender song...

Fake authenticity, the laissez-faire capitalist's wet dream.

Earnest Prole said...

And then there’s the Dylan masterpiece “Foot of Pride”:

Like the lion tears the flesh off of a man
So can a woman who passes herself off as a male

indiana118 said...

"I love when the politically correct classes appropriate things (even their own sometimes) to virtue signal. We need more black Annie's, female Ghostbusters, and other indications of their general lack of originality."

That's because the goal is to try to force things that aren't equivalent to be equivalent by forcing people to pretend they are. If there were a reason why we needed a female Ghostbuster - if the idea had a reason for existing that were based in the Ghostbuster half rather than in the female half - it would be great. Who didn't love West Side Story?

Some songs work if you reverse the sex. Others sound stupid. The people who are in love with the idea of sex as interchangeable don't realize the way they force the issue ("it's sexist to notice that words like male and female refer to distinctly different things!") sound the way people from the 1970s looked. But they will. Time is cruel.

Anyway, if I were half a same-sex couple, I'd want a song that is about me, not a song about someone else that has been patched up. I thought that was exactly what gay people wanted to get away from.

walter said...

Natual born lover's man

Bad Lieutenant said...

It's like "Like a Virgin." She's not a virgin, but she feels like one, "shiny and new," and that's what really matters.


Jesus woman didn't you see my previous movie? Quentin Tarantino explains it all.

funsize said...

I often wonder about Sir Elton and Bernie's song-writing. When I listen, I imagine many songs could be open to being about men or women.

The Godfather said...

I'm not an American Idol fan, but my wife and I happened to catch part of the preliminary episode in which Marcio Donaldson tried out and was accepted for the next stage of the show (I can't remember what he sang, but I don't think it was "Natural Man"; that must have been later in the season). His story was that he has taken responsibility for a young child who was -- as I recall, but don't hate me if I've got the details wrong -- abandoned by Marcio's sister, the child's mother. Marcio was a very appealing character (I'm sure it was no accident that he showed up with the child). So under the circumstances whining about whether a male singer should be allowed to sing about being "a natural man" is particularly bone-headed. This guy could sing about being a mother, for crying out loud!

While I'm here: "Me and Bobby McGee", which a commenter above mentioned, is one of my favorite songs, and one of the reasons is that it works just as well for male or female singers, because Bobby (or "Bobbi" if you prefer) can be of either gender. I wouldn't have any objections to a same-sex version of the song, it's just that it isn't necessary. If a male singer wanted to sing: "One day up near Salinas, Lord, I let HIM slip away/HE's lookin' for that home and I hope He finds it/Well, I'd trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday/To be holdin' Bobby's body next to mine" -- or a female singer with SHE -- it's still a great song.