Three-Way: Alice Cooper – Only Women Bleed (1975)
Alice Cooper, ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ is on iTunes.
by Walter Price
In the year 1975, you were so not into Kraftwerk yet. Matter of fact you were okay with your favorite pop radio station playing Elton John, Michael Jackson, The Carpenters, Bee Gees, and Linda Ronstadt. So smooth and a bit funky, but you had this rock yearning. A yearning that stoned nights would find you deep into Pink Floyd, Queen, Bowie, Steely Dan, and Rush. But one artist that year, a macabre of sorts showman, had your senses tingling with his concept album. The one of a kind rocker’s name is Alice Cooper and his album that year was ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’.
An album that excited and confused rock fans alike. For example, famed rock curmudgeon Robert Christgau said at the time, “The solo debut actually ain’t so bad, no worse than all the others. “Department of Youth” is his catchiest teen power song to date, “Cold Ethyl” his catchiest necrophilia song to date, and “Only Women Bleed” the most explicitly feminist song to hit top forty since “I Am Woman.” Alice’s nose for what the kids want to hear is as discriminating as it is impervious to moral suasion, so perhaps this means that the more obvious feminist truisms have become conventional wisdom among at least half our adolescents. Encouraging.”
Christgau did hit on something when he singled out the track “Only Women Bleed”, a track that surface dwellers mistook for various alternate themes than the writers, Cooper and the late Dick Wagner had intended. Wagner cleared up the speculations, “It’s really a song about domestic violence. It was misunderstood when it first came out. It was supposedly about a woman’s period, but it wasn’t. It was about a woman’s subservient position in society to a man. I’m a firm believer that women are the superior sex. ‘Only Women Bleed’ was a liberating kind of song.”
This clarity says a lot and many female artists over the decades have taken this song and made it their own. Making the ballad a feminist anthem of sorts. A song that resonates with anti-domestic violence empowerment and women’s rights. Beautiful.
I have dug into the vast sea of covers of “Only Women Bleed” and have found three of the most intriguing and powerful versions for you to get into. Let’s go three-way with Alice Cooper’s 1975 masterpiece.
Etta James (1978)
Lita Ford (1990)
Tori Amos (2001)
MOTHERSHIP (Live 1979)
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