Andy Pratt's "woman" problem | Bleader

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Andy Pratt's "woman" problem

Posted By on 11.22.06 at 03:38 PM

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I'm not sure why Unwed Sailor's publicist e-mailed me today to tell me that the band's fall tour--including a November 19 show at Schubas--was canceled. But she was very apologetic about the "short notice," so that's all right I guess.

 

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I thoroughly enjoyed Andy Pratt's set at Schubas last Friday--wow, the man can play and sing--pausing only to avert my eyes from a bit of a wardrobe malfunction. His own songs are luminous things, and these days most audiences are up for a righteously frothing version of "Masters of War." Pratt didn't need to apologize for forgetting some of the words--that song is too long anyway, and he remembered the important lines.

The only thing that counted as a flaw, I suppose, was really more of a thinking moment, reflected in something Martha Bayne muttered to me: "too much with the 'womans.'"

True enough: Pratt's love songs are laced with the dread phrase "my woman," which was once liberally peppered in 60s and 70s hair rock and folk to suggest a certain soulfulness and primal earthiness. That's probably because it turns up in the blues a lot, usually in a context like "Gonna beat my woman until I get satisfied" or "I shot my woman down, caught her messin' around with another man." Hippie romanticism, though, raises "my woman" to a sort of spiritually elevated nymph who sits around with her feet in a bucket of waterlilies like Tom Bombadil's Goldberry, bails her man out of trouble, and makes mean hash brownies.

It's a devious way of suggesting caveman sexuality while worshipping one's personal house goddess at the same. "My woman" might get dragged in by the hair, but there's a lovely pedestal waiting for her. And yet, there's something almost endearing about the phrase, maybe because the simple act of using it with a straight face these days (do you know anyone who does?) suggests it's a bit of helpless holdover. It's quaint. It's twee. It's like wearing spats.

The male equivalent is no better. "My old man" to me is my father, and "my man" still rings to me primarily either like a jive-age greeting, or the kind of professional that Lou Reed was waiting for at Lexington one-two-five (if I had one of those to refer to, which of course I don't).

But retro and silly as they are, "my woman" and "my man" will probably never die out, because "my significant other" doesn't scan in much of anything, and "girl/boyfriend" has never entirely lost that Eau de Eighth Grade, and "lover" only really works in R & B slow jams and pseudo-Olde English ballads.

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