Friday, 27 November 2015

My Top Ten Bad Woman Songs

Sometimes I pick a topic that, for one reason or another, fills the Top Ten with music of one particular genre, or era. Most of this week's list comes from the 60s and 70s... which suggests it's no longer seen as politically correct to write about bad women. Which is nonsense, considering some of the misogynistic crap that gets on the airwaves these days. (Although it'd be just as sexist to stop writing songs about bad women - since true equality comes from seeing the bad and the good in everyone.)

Oh, and in case you were wondering where all the bad girls are... They'll get their turn one day.

10. Skip James - Devil Got My Woman

Originally recorded in the early 1930s, though it wasn't widely known until its re-release in the late 60s (shortly before James's death in 1969) and, no, I didn't discover it until I read / saw Ghost World. I guess the blues don't get much more authentic than this. But I'm not going to pretend to be an expert.

9. Cher - Dark Lady

Cher had three US Number One Hits in the 70s, though only Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves was an international success.The second #1 was Half-Breed, in which she portrayed a woman outcast for being half white, half Cherokee. (The video for that, from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, is hilariously wrong in a Parks & Recreation-style way.) And then came Dark Lady, in which Cher returned to her Gypsy roots with a watered-down version of Redbone's The Witch Queen of New Orleans (which I'm saving for my Top Ten Voodoo Songs, in case you were wondering why I hadn't found room for it here). It was 25 years before she had another Number One record... you know, the one that gave us Auto-Tune. Don't hate her for that.

By the way, Cher is 69 this year. Isn't it time she started putting some clothes on?

8. Allman Brothers - Black-Hearted Woman

A direct descendant of Skip James's woman - and his music.

7. Eric Church - Devil, Devil  (Prelude: Princess Of Darkness)

The only contemporary record on the list this week, this is from Eric Church's latest album, The Outsiders, and it's an eight minute epic. Think you know what modern country music sounds like? Think again...

Oh, and the Devil in question...? Her name is Nashville.

6. Lou Rawls - Evil Woman

Lou Rawls has one of my favourite voices in soul music . Don't go searching for the lyrics online though - every lyrics site I checked had confused this song with another Evil Woman we'll meet a little bit further down this list. Which only goes to show that all those sites steal content from each other and don't bother to check its veracity.

Lou's song is actually a cover of Evil Woman by Spooky Tooth,  a cool slice of laidback 60s psychedelia. Cool... but not Lou.

5. Cliff Richard - Devil Woman

OK, you have every right to hate me for this... like I care what you think. This is one of Cliff's three  biggest selling singles; I was four when it came out and my mum listened to a lot of Radio 2. Plus, I prefer it to the Marty Robbins track of the same name. Just.

If you don't like Cliff's version, I suggest you listen to the one by Krystine Sparkle (the song's co-writer). I can guarantee you'll go back to Cliff. Alternatively, check out the versions by All About Eve, Hayseed Dixie or Cradle of Filth. Something for everybody.

Also, if it wasn't for Devil Woman, we wouldn't ever have had...

4. Flight of the Conchords - Demon Woman
Demon woman
You sit on a rock
Looking nice in your frock
But you're scaring my livestock
'Nuff said? Oh, all right then...
Demon woman
You cut puppies' toes off
Pull an animal's nose off
How'd you magic my clothes off?
I can't wait for the Flight of the Conchords movie.

All of which leads quite nicely into...

3. Crow - Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)

You may be more familiar with the Black Sabbath version, but this is the original from a year earlier (1969). Ozzy's is heavier but it doesn't have a trumpet solo.

While we're on the subject of Black Sabbath, I suppose I should also offer Lady Evil for your consideration.

2. Elvis Presley - Hard Headed Woman

Rock 'n' roll Elvis at his most pure. Scotty Moore's guitar just blows me away here.
Samson told Delilah
Loud and clear
"Keep your cotton-pickin' fingers out my curly hair!"
See also Cat Stevens' song of the same name - Cat obviously hasn't heeded Elvis's warning.  

1. ELO - Evil Woman

It's good to see Jeff Lynne getting some respect again this year - proof positive that if you stick around long enough, even the muso-snobs will come around to the fact that you're a national treasure. Not heard the new ELO album yet (beyond the typically Lennon-esque single), but this is one of their very best. Love that opening...

Who's your favourite naughty old lady?


  1. Black Hearted Woman - Blue Murder

  2. Great mix, some I haven't heard yet, got the spooky tooth vinyl, it's great, I'm working on an old man young woman mix, but it's hard to narrow that one down because it's so extensive. More men singing about young women than evil women I guess, thank goodness, we're not all bad and some of us really do prefer an older man! Lol.

  3. a couple blues tunes:
    Moreland & Arbuckle - Mean and Evil (2016)
    Bob Margolin - All You Left Behind (1999)

  4. There are plenty of songs where women sing about themselves as being evil:

    "I Want to be evil"--Andrea Superstein
    "Evil Hearted" --Joyann Parker
    "Evil Gal blues"--Paul Personne w/Beverly Jo Scott
    "Wicked Way" -- Imelda May
    "Whatever Lola Wants" -- Andrea Superstein
    "Oh I'm Evil" -- Linda Carone
    "Bad Girl" -- Alex Hepburn
    "I'm a Bad, Bad Girl" -- Candye Kane
    "It's a Curse" -- Karin Rudefelt & Doctor Blues
    "I've Been a Bad Girl -- Winterplay


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