Song Lyric Sunday — Taking Pains

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams turned to Angie of King Ben’s Grandma for songs that feature Illness, Injury, or Scars. I’m taking liberties with my interpretation of this week’s theme by going with Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman.”

“She’s Always a Woman” was a song by Billy Joel from his 1977 album, The Stranger. The single peaked at number 17 in the U.S. in 1977.

So why do I say I’m taking liberties in my interpretation of this week’s theme? Well, when I first heard this song, with lyrics such as “she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding,” I thought to myself, man, that’s gotta leave a scar. I figured the song was about a woman who really hurt a guy, who callously injured his poor broken heart. But I was wrong. It’s actually a love song about a modern woman that the singer has fallen in love with.

According to Songfacts, Joel wrote this song about his first wife, Elizabeth, whom he was married to from 1973-1982. When they first got together, she was still married to Joel’s drummer, Jon Small. Billy was so tormented by his affair that he made a halfhearted attempt to kill himself by drinking furniture polish. Ironically, Joel was saved by the very man he was betraying when Jon Small rushed him to hospital.

Elizabeth was also Joel’s manager and worked in the music industry at a time when very few women did. She was able to put his financial affairs in order after Joel had signed some bad deals and contracts. He saw her take a lot of gruff in the working world and get called a lot of names, which led to him writing this song to defend her. She was a tough and savvy negotiator who could “wound with her eyes” or “steal like a thief,” but would “never give in.”

Joel explained, “If you look at the structure of the song, it says, ‘she can do this to you, she can do that to you, but she’s always a woman to me.’ That was the point of the song: they’re bitching about her, and I’m saying, you can bitch all you want, she’s great at business and she comes home and she’s a woman with me.”

So yes, this song is not about illness, injuries, or scars, but with lyrics like “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes,” it sure sounds like it could be.

Here are the lyrics to “Always a Woman.”

She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child but she's always a woman to me

She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth but she'll never believe you
And she'll take what you give her as long as it's free
Yeah she steals like a thief but she's always a woman to me

Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants
She's ahead of her time
Oh, she never gives out and she never gives in
She just changes her mind

And she'll promise you more than the garden of Eden
Then she'll carelessly cut you and laugh while you're bleeding
But she brings out the best and the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself 'cause she's always a woman to me


Oh, she takes care of herself, she can wait if she wants
She's ahead of her time
Oh, she never gives out and she never gives in
She just changes her mind

She is frequently kind and she's suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases, she's nobody's fool
But she can't be convicted, she's earned her degree
And the most she will do is throw shadows at you
But she's always a woman to me

12 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Taking Pains

  1. Nope, Not Pam July 31, 2022 / 4:18 am

    Amazing song, Billy Joel is a superb story teller

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marleen July 31, 2022 / 5:36 am

    Good to know the background.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newepicauthor July 31, 2022 / 7:20 am

    I am very happy that you decided to take liberties by going with this song today Fandango. I can see these lyrics confusing a lot of people and I really enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carol anne August 1, 2022 / 1:33 am

    I never knew billy tried to commit suicide! I’ve always loved this song!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango August 1, 2022 / 6:41 am

      Yeah, I didn’t know that either. I’m glad he failed.

      Like

  5. leigha66 August 1, 2022 / 10:08 am

    I learned a lot in this post… furniture polish would be a rough way to go I imagine. Puts this song in a whole new light.

    Liked by 1 person

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