Unpacking an obscure Rick Springfield song from the 80s

My dad used to listen to this song while riding around in his Suzuki Samurai. A memory of it came up out of the blue and I Googled it to see how it held up.

This is “Woman,” by Rick Springfield, track 7 on 1988’s Rock of Life album.

 

These are the lyrics, with commentary by my wife (blue) and me (red).

 

And I say no (no), no more, I can’t see you again

ok so right off the bat – we know these people are separated. let’s find out why

It’s clear he’s tried to break things off before, but he keeps coming back to her. HE IS TRYING TO CONVINCE HIMSELF.

But I don’t know if I mean it

already wavering in LINE 2! a preview of the spinelessness which I’m sure led to your break-up

Something primal keeps him coming back but he’s knows its a bad scene.

I don’t know if I just pretend

obvious toss-off line here that he just needed to rhyme with “again,” which it only sort of does

He pretends he doesn’t want to see her again in order to convince himself that it is true because they are toxic for one another.

I make up my mind the feeling’s dead

some great 6th grade poetry going on here

Again, trying to convince himself it’s over.

But who’s fooling who inside my head

great line. I want a bumper sticker with this on it. or at least it could be my AIM away message. 

AIM away message.

And I know that I had the feeling

enough with the vague “feeling” references already. let’s get to the meat of it, Rick

He should have said, “And I know that I had the inkling”. Because LOL how great would that be?

That something’s wrong

obv

DENIAL THO.

It’s been out of my control for much too long

I’m sure this woman just loved your pillow talk. Such important feelings you’re having

I feel bad for him ):

I always seem to want to fall in love

wait for it . . .

With the iron hand inside the velvet glove

am I just dense or is it really hard to tell what this line means. when I was a kid I thought maybe the “iron hand” was a phallic reference and the “velvet glove” was its female counterpart, but I’m not so sure about this anymore. I really can’t think of what  it means here in the context of the song thus far, and it especially gives me difficulty with trying to piece it with the previous line. The two lines are really just one sentence that I cannot decipher. 

He likes a beautiful woman with a hard edge. Or he likes S&M.

But it feels too good

ok well I’m glad at least he seems to know what it means

See?

Chorus

Oh Woman, I need you (do you want me to beg)

oh that’s sexy if you beg I’m sure she’ll love that

He lost his resolve from the opening verse ):

I lost my pride long ago (and you know it)

of course you lost your pride it’s why you’d actually release a song this bad

He’s so mad at himself. He knows he’s gonna give in to his desires. His penis desires.

Oh Woman, I love you (when you take me to bed)

the saying “take me to bed” is ridiculous and somewhat infantile. another reason this woman left you is probably because you’re saying things like “baby, take me to bed” and she hates it

DAT SUCCUBUS!

My private beatings never show

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT HERE

Omg emotional abuse? Or is he beating himself up over his weakness, but maintaining a facade of stoicism until this female takes him to bed?

Woman when you make love you close your eyes

she does that so she’s not reminded of the mistake she’s making

I think a lot of ladies do this?

(And I get any closer to the mystery)

another bizarre line that no one understands

I got nothin.

Oh Woman, I need you (you must be the one)

at this point, she’s clearly not

You don’t, bro. She ain’t, bro.

Don’t cut me free ’cause I can’t be myself

is this, like, a suicide reference. what are you gonna do if you’re by yourself there, buddy

“I can’t see you again” but “don’t cut me free”. I kind of think this is something more serious than a melodramatic Tumblr post and it makes me sad.

The voices say (stand up), I wish that I could

the voices? we’re into the thick of this song and just now you’re bringing up voices? like they’re commonplace? 

The voices are the parts of him who know the score or the people around him who care, but he’s defeated.

I feel the nail being driven in

the . . . nail . . . hmmmmm. So you’re trying to stand up, but there’s a nail being “driven in” that won’t let you? is that it? whose nail? what are we talking about Rick

Religious reference? WAIT IS HE A VAMPIRE?

But there’s something about it that feels so good

??????? your guess is as good as mine

With consideration to the previous line, he derives a sick pleasure from being victimized by this person.

You’re always the talk of the town

ok shifting gears here. I feel like Rick had heard the phrase “talk of the town” and desperately wanted it in his song and just decided oh here’s a good spot

In re: this line and the next two, TABLOID REPORTING.

And the town won’t shut up talking

are these the aforementioned voices?

‘Til the king is crowned

what? did someone “help” Rick write this song? ok maybe I’m overreacting and just need to realize this is a pop song and the lyrics don’t even matter that much

King of the suckers ): 

And I know that I know you like it, hard and tough

“I know that I know” huh. So it’s come to this.

He’s trying to say he’s aware of the situation on a meta level…

There’s a lot of heat and spark, but that’s not enough

yeaaaahhhh. heat and spark. now we’re talking sexy talk here.

They have chemistry, but duh “something’s wrong”.

The actor wants to skip the final scene

strange figurative language here. yet again. I don’t really get it. So is the woman “the actor” who wants to leave the relationship before . . . well I guess before getting married? is marriage “the final scene?” If not, what is?

More meta stuff. He wants to get out of the spectacle and performance of being happy and okay with this relationship before he’s totally destroyed.

Tho’ the keys are in the getaway machine

I’m hoping whoever transcribed this is the one that abbreviated the word “though,” because abbreviating it to “tho’” DOES NOT SHORTEN IT WHICH IS THE POINT OF ABBREVIATION. Also, we have figurative language again here with the “getaway machine” (wtf?) and the keys but how does this relate to the previous line and the “actor?” horrible mixed metaphor.

Oops, locked his keys in the car.

I just can’t go

wait, is Rick the “actor?” uggghhhhhhhh

He’s doomed. GUESS YOU’RE GONNA DO THAT FINAL SCENE. BREAK A LEG.

Chorus (repeated)

Oh Woman, I need you (do you want me to beg)

I lost my pride long ago (and you know it)

Oh Woman, I love you (when you take me to bed)

My private beatings never show

Woman when you make love you close your eyes

(And I get any closer to the mystery)

Oh Woman, I need you (you must be the one)

Don’t cut me free ’cause I can’t be myself

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