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Unveiling the True Meaning of “She’s Always a Woman”
Have you ever wondered about the story and significance behind one of Billy Joel’s most enchanting songs, “She’s Always a Woman”? This heartfelt love ballad, reminiscent of the captivating melodies of Gordon Lightfoot, was released as a single in 1978, featured in Billy Joel’s fifth studio album, “The Stranger.” Let’s dive into the intriguing narrative that unfolds in this timeless classic.
Celebrating the Resilience of Elizabeth Weber
Unbeknownst to many, “She’s Always a Woman” was dedicated to Billy Joel’s first wife, Elizabeth Weber, who also served as his manager. It’s worth mentioning that Elizabeth’s role as a female manager in the male-dominated music industry of the 1970s was a remarkable and pioneering feat. Unfortunately, her tenacity and assertiveness were often misunderstood by her industry peers, who labeled her as “unfeminine” and “tough.” In response to these unjust characterizations, Billy Joel penned this song as a passionate defense of his beloved wife. He wanted to convey that despite the industry’s perception, Elizabeth remained a strong and remarkable woman in his eyes.
While some may have mistakenly interpreted the song as misogynistic, Billy Joel clarified his intentions in Fred Schruers’ book, “Billy Joel.” He explained, “My take was, ‘She can ruin your faith with her casual lies, and she only reveals what she wants you to see’ — all second person — but then it comes back to me: ‘She’s always a woman to me.'” In a subsequent interview, he further emphasized, “To me, it’s a very simple understandable lyric. She may be that to you, but she’s this to me.” Thus, the song serves as a heartfelt declaration of love, celebrating the imperfect yet endearing qualities of a woman.
Image: Billy Joel. Singer of the song “She’s Always a Woman”
The Romantic Journey of Billy Joel and Elizabeth Weber
As mentioned earlier, Billy Joel’s first wife, Elizabeth Weber, significantly influenced the creation of this mesmerizing ballad. Elizabeth, initially married to Billy Joel’s band member, drummer Jon Small, caught Joel’s attention with her sharp intellect and directness, leading to a profound connection between them. Devastated upon discovering their affair, Small decided to sever his partnership with Joel. Initially, Elizabeth contemplated leaving Joel as well, which drove him to the brink of despair. However, she eventually returned, and the couple tied the knot in September 1973.
During their marriage, Elizabeth continued to inspire Billy Joel’s creative process. Both “Just The Way You Are” and “She’s Always a Woman” were profound love ballads dedicated to his wife. Sadly, as the years passed, these beautiful melodies couldn’t sustain their relationship, ultimately resulting in a tumultuous divorce in 1982.
Towards the end of the 1970s, “Just The Way You Are” and “She’s Always a Woman” became staple songs in Billy Joel’s live shows. However, after the separation from Elizabeth Weber, he chose to remove these songs from his setlist. Joel confessed that the passion to perform these pieces had diminished. Nonetheless, in recent years, he reintroduced “She’s Always a Woman” to his live performances, often concluding the song with a heartfelt remark, “And then we got divorced.”
The Everlasting Impact of “She’s Always a Woman”
Released as a single in 1978 as part of Billy Joel’s fifth studio album, “The Stranger,” “She’s Always a Woman” soared to number 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Its charm resonated with audiences beyond borders, charting in Canada, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Notably, in 1986, the song once again graced the UK charts, this time as a double A-side with “Just the Way You Are.” Furthermore, in 2010, a cover by Fyfe Dangerfield revived the song’s popularity, propelling Billy Joel’s original version to number 29 on the UK singles chart.
In conclusion, “She’s Always a Woman” remains a testament to the enduring power of love and the strength of a remarkable woman. Through his heartfelt lyrics, Billy Joel immortalizes Elizabeth Weber, capturing the essence of her resilience and beauty. So, the next time you listen to this enchanting melody, let it serve as a reminder to appreciate and celebrate the imperfect yet extraordinary qualities of the women in your life.
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