Friday, 22 April 2011

5: White Town, “Your Woman” (no.1, 1997)

The thinking of most pop music is limited to the bedroom (or wherever else our musicians can or can’t get laid these days), but there’s a particular legend to be attached to those songs actually made there, on rudimentary recording equipment, probably held together by some form of sticky-backed plastic, by young men with heads full of ideas, a lot of kit and rather too much time on their hands. (See also, in this context: Daniel Bedingfield’s “Gotta Get Thru This”, Owl City’s recent “Fireflies”.)

“Your Woman” was Derby-based Jyoti Mishra’s big pop breakthrough after a couple of years noodling around on the indie scene. Inspired to try something different, Mishra tried a song from a perspective other than that of the typical lovelorn/lovesick male singer-songwriter - thus blurring the gender lines of an entire generation (as Boy George’s first appearance on Top of the Pops had fifteen years before) who were given pause to wonder whether the vocalist was gay, or a woman, or just a bloke reading a break-up note from a female lover. (Listening to “Your Woman” again, all these readings are possible.)

Over a decade on, the song itself sounds as fresh as ever, despite sampling its trumpet riff from an old Al Bowlly number (1932’s jaunty “My Woman”, if you’re interested), and despite having been fairly rigorously lifted from since, first by the producers of Alizee’s “Moi Lolita” (see no.16 in this list), then (rather horribly) by UK grime merchant Wiley for his recent hit “Never Be Your Woman”. Sidebar: is this the only song in chart history to namecheck Marxism in any form?

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