"I'm Every Woman" (1979), "Sweet Love" (1986), "Woman In Love" (1980), Anita Baker, Barbra Streisand, Bipolar Disorder, Celine Dion, Chaka Khan, Crushes, Drugs, Empathy, Endorphins, Euphoria, Love, Male-Female Relationships, Phyllis, Romance, Understanding Women, Wendy, Woman
I actually like a couple of Barbra Streisand songs, both from ’80, and both from her collaboration with The Bee Gees (specifically, Barry Gibb). One is “Guilty,” the other “Woman In Love.” And yes, this is but one sign of how weird I am. But for the past thirty-four years, these songs have been part of my mental and actual music rotation, allowing me to ponder the mysteries of the opposite sex in the process.
For those moments, I’ve sometimes found myself wondering, has any woman ever felt that way about me? “I am a woman in love/And I’d do anything/To get you into my world/And hold you within.” I honesty have no idea, but the possibility of stirring passion in someone other than myself has fascinated me since the days of my Wendy crush in March ’82.
So, every time I’ve had a crush or love of major note, Streisand’s “Woman In Love” has given me to ability to think about what it would be like to be a woman. Young. In love. With all of the hopes and hurts, battles and betrayals. In ’85 with Phyllis, in ’91, in ’95 with my eventual wife, even after marriage. Somehow, the overwrought and — dare I say, Jewish — angst with which Streisand sang the song resonated with me and has stayed with me after all these years.
It wasn’t just Streisand that’s given me this feeling over the years. Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love,” and “Body and Soul,” Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” (still like this version better than Whitney’s, may she rest in peace) and “Through The Fire,” even some stuff from Celine Dion. Their music has gotten me about as close as could get to understanding what it must feel like to be a woman, at least in a generic sense. My wife, though, could probably testify to a lot more moments.
Of course, I can’t actually be a “woman in love,” no matter how much experience, imagination and empathy I can muster. Passing a kidney stone for nineteen hours in ’02 may approximate what my wife went through in giving birth to our son in ’03. But I didn’t have to carry that kidney stone around for nine months while it made noticeable changes to my body, my diet and my psyche. And having a child that you’ve fallen in love with before their birth often make the process worth it. I couldn’t get my doctors to let me see my kidney stone, much less keep it!
“It’s a right I defend/Over and over again,” Streisand sings in “Woman In Love.” As a boy and man who’s been “in love” at least four times in forty-four years, I feel that I can relate — a lot, if not in total. Taken to it’s most illogical extent, though, would mean obsession, possibly even stalker-like tendencies, especially if someone else doesn’t feel anything near the same way. But, when you’re in the middle of it, you might as well be on coke, Oxycontin and weed all at once, and with some latent form of bipolar disorder to boot. And the hangover from being in love requires much more than a Bloody Mary to get over.
How women do it, I guess I’ll never know.