I was recently asked to give a detailed explanation/interpretation of the lyrics for my song "That Kind of Woman," which is track 9 off of The Floating World album. (The lyrics to the song are able to be viewed on my website as well and will not be re-printed here). I am hoping that by giving my thoughts on this song it will not take away from others' personal interpretations, since music is for me a personal venture, and I think it should be for the listener as well. I am, however, also an avid reader and in college most of my day was spent analyzing texts, poetry, etc. So it isn't unusual for me to take a literary perspective. Anyhow, here goes:
Women and men alike seem to respond strongly to this song, though perhaps for different reasons. My guess would be that women might be responding more to lyrics, while men are pulled in more by the music. One reviewer and musician, Rocket Kirchner, described this song as having a "persuasive story line which both sexes can relate to."
Ultimately there are many levels on which this song can be perceived. Women are often expected to be everything to everyone in society. We are bombarded with ideas of beauty, how we should run our family, care for our children, serve our domestic partners, do our jobs. Sometimes amongst all these societal "roles," the heart of the woman, her sensuality and emotionalism, are denied. She often falls short, in her own mind, of what she "should be." Alhough I have felt this pressure in many different siuations, at the time I wrote this song I was particularly interested in the angst many women feel when comparing themselves to other women. There wasn't even a particular woman I was writing about, or comparing myself to, but I was creating the "ideal" woman, who, in this song, I obviously am not, although I would wish to be seen as such in the eyes of the one I adore.
There is also a less obvious, but more exciting message in the lyrics. If one suddenly puts themself in the place of this "ideal" woman, then for a moment they refer to themselves in third person and become "perfect," as the woman decribed in the first several verses. This may be an interpretation other women enjoy because it provides them with a sense of empowerment. I should expand here upon the idea of perfection. It's not any one or two or million things that define some tangible or shallow "perfection," this is a far reaching sense of power of a broad, mysterious, non-specific kind. It can be what each woman wants it to be. Also, in the final verses of the song, we are brought back to the reality of our imperfection, which hopefully makes the song even more poignant and meaningful to those of us who are all too aware of our faults.
There are allusions to both religion and alchemy in this song, which makes it a dichotomy in itself. "Water into wine," is of course a familiar image in the Christian religion, but later I talk about "silver into gold," which would remind one more of witchcraft. It would probably take me an entire thesis to delve more deeply into those allusions, so I'll let everyone else's mind wander on those matters.
Finally, this is a sensual song, and there is always an undercurrent of sexuality running through it, which seems to be repressed by the ideas of imperfection introduced later in the song. However, it cannot be entirely repressed, and I'd say this is symbolic of women in our society. We're supposed to button ourselves up, be proper and undersexed, but usually this underlying passion cannot be held in check completely, and as a result women are either put on pedastals, or on the contrary, debased, as objects of desire.
There ya go!