Four Women (song)
|Song by Nina Simone from the album Wild Is the Wind|
|Wild Is the Wind track listing|
"Four Women" is a song written by jazz singer, composer, pianist and arranger Nina Simone, released on the 1966 album Wild Is the Wind. It tells the story of four different African-American women. Each of the four characters represents an African-American stereotype in society. Thalami Davis of The Village Voice called the song "an instantly accessible analysis of the damning legacy of slavery, that made iconographic the real women we knew and would become."
African-American female archetypes
- The first of the four women described in the song is "Aunt Sarah" a character who represents African-American enslavement. Nina Simone's description of the woman emphasizes the strong and resilient aspects of her race, "strong enough to take the pain" as well as the long-term suffering her race has had to endure, "inflicted again and again".
- The second woman who appears in the song is dubbed "Safronia", a woman of mixed race ("my skin is yellow") forced to live "between two worlds". She is portrayed as an oppressed woman and her story is once again used to highlight the suffering of the black race at the hands of white people in positions of power ("My father was rich and white/He forced my mother late one night").
- The third character is that of a prostitute referred to as "Sweet Thing". She finds acceptance with both black and white people because "my hair is fine", but only because she provides sexual gratification ("Whose little girl am I?/Anyone who has money to buy").
- The fourth and final woman is very tough, embittered by the generations of oppression and suffering endured by her people ("I'm awfully bitter these days/'cause my parents were slaves"). Simone finally unveils the woman's name after a dramatic finale during which she screams, "My name is Peaches!"
The group Reflection Eternal which is made up of rapper Talib Kweli and producer Hi-Tek has a version titled "For Women" on their debut album Train of Thought. Berlin soul singer Joy Denalane, featuring Sara Tavares, Chiwoniso & Deborah, interpreted the song on her debut album Mamani.
Much to Simone's dismay, and despite her intention to highlight the injustice in society and the suffering of African-American people, some listeners interpreted the song as racist. They believed it drew on black stereotypes, and it was subsequently banned on several major radio stations.
- Davis, Thulani (29 April 2003). "Nina Simone, 1933-2003". The Village Voice. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- "Nina Simone Returns ... 25 Years Later|". St. Paul Pioneer Press. 13 April 1993.
banned by some radio stations
- Brown, George F. (14 December 1966). "San Juan Entertainment". The Virgin Islands Daily News. p. 14. Retrieved 28 April 2012.