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Title: ‘Bitch’
Where to find it: ‘Blurring the Edges’ (1997, Capitol)
Performed by: Meredith Brooks
Words by: Meredith Brooks

After the heaviness of last week’s analysis of Two Door Cinema Club’s ‘Sleep Alone’, it’s time for something a bit lighter.

When this song came out, the thing I remember most about the music video was Meredith Brooks’ shiny Gretsch Sparkle Jet guitar. You didn’t see women rocking out on MTV or VH1 much those days – or even now. Eventually, a search for cool looking Gretsch guitars led me to their basses. When I was 16 I wanted one in purple to hang on my wall, not to play it. Never in a million years would I guessed that years later I would playing a bass. (And not a purple one!)

It’s unfortunate that ‘Bitch’ got a second life in the Mel Gibson leg shaving scene in the film What Women Want, but a second life is better than not having one at all, yeah?

First, the words:

Verse 1
I hate the world today
You’re so good to me
I know but I can’t change
Tried to tell you
But you look at me like maybe
I’m an angel underneath
Innocent and sweet

Yesterday I cried
You must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you’d be so confused
I don’t envy you
I’m a little bit of everything
All rolled into one

Chorus
I’m a bitch, I’m a lover
I’m a child, I’m a mother
I’m a sinner, I’m a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I’m your hell, I’m your dream
I’m nothing in between
You know you wouldn’t want it any other way

Verse 2
So take me as I am
This may mean
You’ll have to be a stronger man
Rest assured that
When I start to make you nervous
And I’m going to extremes
Tomorrow I will change
And today won’t mean a thing

Chorus
I’m a bitch, I’m a lover
I’m a child, I’m a mother
I’m a sinner, I’m a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I’m your hell, I’m your dream
I’m nothing in between
You know you wouldn’t want it any other way

Bridge
Just when you think, you got me figured out
The season’s already changing
I think it’s cool, you do what you do
And don’t try to save me

Chorus
I’m a bitch, I’m a lover
I’m a child, I’m a mother
I’m a sinner, I’m a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I’m your hell, I’m your dream
I’m nothing in between
You know you wouldn’t want it any other way

Modified chorus
I’m a bitch, I’m a tease
I’m a goddess on my knees
When you hurt, when you suffer
I’m your angel undercover
I’ve been numb, I’m revived
Can’t say I’m not alive
You know I wouldn’t want it any other way

Now, the analysis:

‘Bitch’ by Meredith Brooks was the focus of controversy the second it got distributed to radio stations. What a terrible title, how will we announce it, heavens! Most people didn’t even stop long enough to examine the lyrics, which were an amazing collection of cheeky attributes of every woman. Or every man, for that matter. We are kaleidoscopes, multi-faceted. Even if we show the world one face and think our lives are simple, what’s inside is a bubbling cauldron of emotions. The whole song is a study of how someone loved can be an enchanting, beguiling personality with emotional outbursts and dark moments, and that person is totally okay with these mercurial tendencies. Humans are complex beings. You might not agree outright, but I think we all have a little of this “Bitch” in all of us, boys and girls, men and women. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Verse 1 addresses Meredith Brooks’ anger or a crying jag and its effects on her lover. “Tried to tell you / But you look at me like maybe / I’m an angel underneath / Innocent and sweet”: is this what most men think of their women? That they must be innocent and naive? I got this sort of reception from my first boyfriend and became immediately indignant as being called out as “a wee innocent lamb”. I don’t think anyone, male or female, appreciates being called “innocent” in a relationship, because being a relationship is A Grown-Up Thing to Do. This verse is also the first moment where she kind of pokes her lover and says, “look, this is the way I am, don’t try to fix me”.

The first chorus, and all successive choruses that follow, emphasises the extremes in her personality and she “does not feel ashamed” for having strong feelings. It’s an incredible singalong. Put this on in the car with the windows rolled down, shouting these words.

The bridge revisits the “don’t try to fix me” motif. “Just when you think, you got me figured out / The season’s already changing / I think it’s cool, you do what you do / And don’t try to save “: she’s saying that’s cool that you’re by my side, I appreciate that. But I don’t need any “saving”. This is me, and I don’t need fixing or changing.

Lyrically, I find the outro to be the most brilliant. She’s acting how someone should when in love and she can flirt like the best of them (“I’m a bitch, I’m a tease / I’m a goddess on my knees”) but ultimately, she will be there to care for her lover when neede (“When you hurt, when you suffer / I’m your angel undercover”). “I’ve been numb, I’m revived / Can’t say I’m not alive / You know I wouldn’t want it any other way”, what does that say about her? She is a survivor. She has hurt, she has flatlined emotionally. But she is alive now, in the body and skin she’s in. No regrets.

Lastly, the song, with its original gravity-defying video.

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