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Day 107 | Suffragette City

I’ve been waiting for the right occasion to post this one, which is one of my favorites and one of Bowie’s signature songs.  The US Treasury’s decision to feature women on the backs of $10 bills along with Harriett Tubman on the front of the $20 seems like a good excuse. I’m not sure that the song has anything actually to do with the right of women to vote.  The term “Suffragette” has a specific meaning, especially in Britain as it applied to members of a particular organization, as opposed to the more general term, “suffragist.”  I have read, I think mistakenly, that the term was meant as a diminutive, and coupled with “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” suggests that the song is secretly misogynistic.  I don’t buy it. I kind of think it is simply an early 70s hipster telling his roommate, Henry, to clear out because a girlfriend -possibly a feminist girlfriend– is coming over for some energetic sex.  It could be that there is a very vague linkage between political and sexual liberation (conflating the right to vote with the right to casual sex). It is also possible that Bowie fit some words together that sounded good with the music, which he would do from time to time. One last thing- this is definitely a song that sounds better in its recorded, studio version than any of the live versions I either heard in person or could find on line.  I am really not satisfied with any of these videos, but I include a few including some covers, but the best way to hear it is on the album. Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

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