“She’s Always a Woman” by Billy Joel
Despite the title of this song potentially sounding sexist to some, quite to the contrary it is the Piano Man’s version of a feminist tune. Or stated differently analyzing this song hastily can easily lead to misinterpreting its lyrics.
For instance, technically speaking Billy Joel is not singing about women in general as much as he is one woman in particular. In terms of the former, yes, the backdrop of this song is premised on the fact that we live in a society that is sometimes sexist. But the sexism that Billy is addressing sentimentally is that found in the music industry.
And the exact woman he is singing about is a lady by the name of Elizabeth Weber, whom he was married to at the time. More to the point, she was actually his business manager, i.e. the person who handled his negotiations. Moreover she was very hard-nosed in her approach. And since it was not only unconventional for a woman to hold such a job back in those days but to also deal with men in an uncompromising manner, Joel witnessed her take a lot of flack accordingly. Or stated differently, some people thought she was too masculine in terms of the way she conducted herself. But Billy did not see her that way. Instead in his eyes, “she is always a woman”.
So on top of this track being representative of the singer’s take on gender roles, it can also be deemed a love song. The latter idea was made evident when Billy Joel, relatively speaking, stopped performing “She’s Always a Woman” after he and Werner divorced in 1982. And in the song, he does recognize that his lady is perhaps strong-willed and independence-oriented to a fault. However, he is also able to perceive that she is “ahead of her time”, i.e. a harbinger of things to come. And all things considered, he seems to be quite proud to have such a woman in his life.
Facts about “She’s Always a Woman”
This Billy Joel tune was released on 29 September 1977 as one of the tracks on his classic album “The Stranger”. And the label that put it out is Columbia Records.
This song was written by Billy and produced by regular collaborator Phil Ramone.
As far as penning the tune, the Piano Man was influenced by the musical style of Canadian artist Gordon Lightfoot. And “She’s Always a Woman” itself served as an inspiration for John Legend’s 2013 megahit, “All of Me“.
Upon its initial release, “She’s Always a Woman” reached 17th place on the Billboard Hot 100. And throughout the decades it has sporadically popped up on music charts around the world. For instance, it appeared on the UK Singles Chart in 1986 and again in 2010 and has been certified Gold in the United Kingdom.