If Shania Twainsaying “Let’s go girls!” doesn’t make you wanna run through a brick wall, check your pulse…
Of course, that iconic opening guitar riff and line is a large part of what ultimately made “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” her signature song.
“Man! I Feel Like A Woman” won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, has been performed at the Super Bowl Halftime show, and covered some of the most popular female artists including Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood.
It was written by Shania along with her former producer and ex-husband Robert “Mutt” Lange, included on her 1997 Come On Over album, and has since been certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA.
And Shania recently sat down with Vice to tell the story behind it, saying Mutt had come up with the melody and wanted it to have a signature hook.
They went back and forth at the kitchen table, and eventually, she just blurted those iconic lines, “Man, I feel like a woman,” with the “Let’s go girls” phrase coming later in the recording process:
“‘Let’s go girls’ just happened in the moment doing vocals being in the spirit. I remember thinking, I am such a bad actress, I cannot sound natural speaking the lyrics.
I wanna go right to that riff that the verses had to be written around the phrasing is so important, even if you were speaking it.”
She says it felt like a huge statement to make in country music at the time, though it of course became a crossover hit, and was more about her feeling liberated internally than anything else:
“When the ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ statement came out, then it was so obvious the song was liberated, independent, human beings. Celebrating your own spirit, and I felt it all through the song writing. I’m just thinking, this feels like party song.
It just made me feel like I’m standing up for myself. I’m not apologetic about all the things that are criticized that I’ve experienced in my own life. That’s too tight, that’s too short, for me to just start even recognizing that I’m okay with being a girl.
Just because I’m wearing something that flatters my body, doesn’t mean I”m showing off. I’m not even necessarily doing it for you. The song was completely written on acoustic guitar before we went into the studio to record ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman!'”
She also talked about the pop, rock and country elements you hear in the production, breaking down each different layer and explaining how important every instrument and backing vocal is to the song as a whole.
And possibly more iconic than the song itself is the music video, which Shania felt needed to match the message and meaning of the song. She had help from designer and stylist Marc Bouwer, who created her iconic menswear-inspired outfits for the shoot.
The art department at her label at the time even told her it was too high fashion and that women wouldn’t like it, insisting that she would alienate part of her audience by being “too sexy” and unrelatable.
But of course, she knew better, telling them they just didn’t know women and that it would actually be incredibly relatable and inspiring:
“And I said, ‘I don’t think you guys get it. As women, they’re gonna totally get it.’ I was already pushing the limits in the country genre, this was gonna push things over the limits.
And the lips were a big part of it, the makeup and the veil. I wanted to reverse that role of exploitation. I’m like, ‘I wanna see some man boobs!’
The video was a big part of expressing an extension of what I was trying to say in the lyrics. It says so much more than man and woman, there’s so much more between man and woman. There’s this whole area in between.”
She added that the song was simply meant to express her feelings about coming into her own as a woman and finally embracing it, though of course, it took on a life of its own and became an iconic song of the 90’s country era:
“I hadn’t written ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ for any particular person, except for the way I was feeling. It’s like everyone’s song.
And they all take ownership of it in a different way, even regardless of what the song stands for and represents, and has come to represent. ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ is a signature song for my entire career. This song was absorbed by a global audience, which changed things for me as an artist, of course.
I’m a part of pop culture now. It wasn’t a courageous thing to write this sort of statement, but once I said it, then I’m like, this is very satisfying thing to say, ‘Man, I feel like a woman, and I love that.'”
It’s hard to overstate just how much this changed things for Shania as an artist, but the genre as a whole, as well.
Mostly, she’s a global superstar known as the queen of pop country, and that’s thanks in large part to “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”
There’s a lot of other cool details, background and history behind what led to writing this song, so make sure you check out the whole video for yourself:
I’ve only watched this a couple times this Monday morning, but I’m about ready to kick a door down…