BARBARA MASON / “From His Woman To You”
Last week, Kalamu gave you some of his picks for ‘other woman’ records, songs which attempt to answer the eternal question (to quote Kalamu): ‘What impels us to do wrong?’ This week, I’m giving you my picks and, like Kalamu, I’m sticking to the female perspective. Truth is, this subject is a virtually indefatigable well. Kalamu gave you no less than eleven perspectives on the subject. I’m following up with another six (a couple of which were suggested via the comments section). That makes seventeen. Even so, I do believe we’re barely scratching the surface. Just check out the variety of viewpoints in this week’s selections alone. We’re going to hear from one woman who actually decides not to cheat and from another who’s wavering hard. We’ll hear from a woman who’s caught her cheating man in the act and another who’s willing to look the other way. And we’ll hear from a couple of bold and unashamed types who lay claim to “their” men, despite being the ones who are doing the cheating. 1. Barbara Mason – “From His Woman To You” – Originally from Love’s The Thing (Buddah, 1975); Currently available on The Greatest Hits (Empire, 2003). Quotable: “There’s a thing or two I’d like to say / I don’t care who claims this man / I’m gonna love him anyway.” As Big E. mentioned last week, this was the classic answer record to Shirley Brown’s just as classic “Woman To Woman.” All I can say is, Barbara Mason must be out of her mind. “I don’t mind sharing?” “Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you?” “Seems like you’re the fool?” Damn, that’s crazy. Women, watch your men. Enough said. 2. Joan Armatrading – “I Really Must Be Going” – Originally from the How Cruel EP (A&M, 1979); Currently available on Love And Affection: Classics 1975-1983 (A&M, 2003). Quotable: “Told me that you loved me / You’ve been looking for me all your life / Told you I was married / You said, ‘Baby, it don’t seem right.’” Check out those lines above and you’ll see why Kalamu referred to Joan as the Shakespeare of romantic pop songs. In just two rhyming lines, Joan gives you the full history of two characters, telling you everything you need to know to supply a place, a time and even some physical characteristics of these potential philanderers. “I really must be going,” the main character decides in the end. “And I’ll see you later, sweetheart.” So while this is a record about an extra-marital affair that never actually happened, it’s still full of tension, drama and intrigue. 3. The Soul Children – “I’ll Be The Other Woman” – Originally from Friction (Stax, 1974); Currently available on Chronicle (Stax, 1991). Quotable: “I’ll be your part-time love, but that’s as far as I’ll go / To be your part-time fool would be stooping a little too low / Loving a married man – this I really don’t mind / But a married Casanova is a little out of my line.” Another young lady who’s completely lost her damn mind. My brother, Tuta, suggested this one and while it definitely helps to define the genre, the subject matter itself is indefensible. Not to mention more than a little cuckoo. So let me get this straight. You’re sleeping with a married man but are actually trying to claim “your” territory? As in, “You’d better not be cheating on your wife with anyone else but me.” Or what? That’s the question. Or what? 4. Erykah Badu – “Next Lifetime” – From Baduizm (Universal, 1997). Quotable: “I know I’m a lot of woman / But not enough to divide the pie / Now, what am I supposed to do?” This is the one song of this group that qualifies as a actual love song. I’m certainly not in favor of my woman having thoughts and conversations like Badu is having in this song, but, realistically, shit happens. I actually think it’s mature to feel temptation and yet be able to draw a line and say, “Nope. Next lifetime. I got somebody already.” 5. Nina Simone – “Don’t Explain” – From Let It All Out (Phillips, 1966). Quotable: “Don’t want to hear folks chatter / ‘Cause I know you cheat / Right and wrong don’t matter / When you’re with me, my sweet.” Nina takes on one of Billie’s signature records and turns it into something that sounds like a fresh, bloody wound. It’s quiet, painful and bound to get nothing but worse. I would’ve made this one the feature track but we can’t feature Nina every week, can we? 6. Nancy Wilson – “Guess Who I Saw Today” – Originally released as a 7” single (Capitol, 1961); Currently available on Anthology (The Right Stuff/Capitol, 2000) “You’re so late getting home from the office / Did you miss your train? / Were you caught in the rain? / No, don’t bother to explain.” Never before have the same words (“don’t explain”) meant something so different. In Billie’s case (via Nina), it means, “I accept the situation for what it is. You lie. You cheat. But don’t explain because it doesn’t matter – I want you regardless.” In Nancy’s case, it means, “Don’t explain because I’m about to explain it for you, you lying, cheating son of a bitch.” This has got to be the angriest sweet-sounding record you’ll ever hear. The piano player does his gentle runs; the drummer tickles the cymbals; the bass player strums along; and all the while Nancy croons so softly. Meanwhile, you just know the shit is about to hit the fan. Hard. —Mtume ya Salaam Nancy Live I'm adding a live version of "Guess Who I Saw Today." The Nancy Wilson Show (Capitol - 1965) is from when she was first breaking big time into the supper club scene; before her stylistic innovations became her own clichés; before she moved from singing to entertaining; before her voice lost its youthful quality. I’m not knocking the mature Nancy Wilson, just saying for those of us who are jazzheads, we really, really dug, early Nancy. Ok, I’m out. —Kalamu ya Salaam
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