If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)

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"If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)"
If You Were a Woman (and I Was a Man).jpg
Single by Bonnie Tyler
from the album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire
B-side "Under Suspicion"
Released May 1986
Recorded 1986
  • Pop Rock

Length 5:15
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Desmond Child
Producer(s) Jim Steinman
Bonnie Tyler singles chronology
"Loving You Is A Dirty Job But Somebody's Gotta Do It"
"If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)"
"Band of Gold"

"Loving You Is A Dirty Job But Somebody's Gotta Do It"
"If You Were a Woman and I Was a Man"
"Band of Gold"
Music video
"If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)"
"If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" (Extended Version)
on YouTube

"If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" is a song recorded by Bonnie Tyler for her 1986 rock album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire. It was written by Desmond Child and produced by Jim Steinman. Child has since stated that the song was re-written as "You Give Love a Bad Name" for Bon Jovi after he was dissatisfied with "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)"'s chart success. Tyler re-recorded the song on her 2004 album Simply Believe.

The song was successful in Europe, reaching number 6 in France and sold over 200,000 copies. The song also reached number 77 on the US Hot 100, and has since been Tyler's last hit single in the country.

Background and composition[edit]

After the success of Faster Than the Speed of Night in 1983, Tyler went on to work with Jim Steinman on a second album. "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" was released as the third single from Tyler's 1986 album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire after the international success of first single "Holding Out for a Hero", which was originally released in 1985 from the soundtrack to the film Footloose. Steinman recruited Desmond Child for two tracks (the other being "Lovers Again"). Steinman told Child that he wanted a song about androgyny. "I want a special song. The verses have to sound like Tina Turner, the B Section has to sound like The Police, U2, or Hall & Oates, and the chorus has to sound like Bruce Springsteen," he continued.[1]

After he had completed his work on Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire and the single had peaked, Child went to work with Bon Jovi a few months later. He co-wrote "You Give Love a Bad Name" with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and made the song a hit. "I was sore at the record company for not pushing that song ["If You Were A Woman (And I Was a Man)"], and I said, "I'm going to prove that that song's a hit!" So we wrote it again."[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire received generally positive reviews from music critics. People magazine described the album as "bombastic", and that "most of the time the bombast is kept within tolerable limits."[2] Allmusic retrospectively complimented "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)", though described the whole album as a substandard to Faster Than the Speed of Night for lacking "a cranium-blasting "Faster Than the Speed of Night" or chart-busting "Total Eclipse of the Heart"."[3]

The song was described as a "typical Bonnie Tyler ballad" by Paul Speelman of The Age. He said that the song has "a good, solid arrangement."[4]

Commercial performance[edit]

Upon its release, "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" debuted at number 42 in France, rising to number 6 two months later. It was certified Silver by the SNEP with sales of over 200,000 copies in France.[5]

Elsewhere in continental Europe, "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" was a hit in Switzerland and Germany, where it peaked at number 16 and 32 respectively. The song failed to significantly impact the UK charts, however, spending three weeks in the chart, peaking at number 78. Across the Atlantic, the song peaked at number 77 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 87 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart.

Music video[edit]

In conjunction with the single release, Tyler recorded a music video for "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)". Three versions of the video were published. The longest, uncut version runs to 5:54[6]. The "extended" version is only 5:29 and is missing a few lines of dialogue (e.g. "You ready? You ready? you ready?" "I was born ready") and rather than the explicit, horrific transformation of the Rambo character to a Marilyn Monroe character, an explosion of light is used[7] and the third version runs to 4:40 and omits the opening dialogue sequence and all of the additional dialogue bar "Welcome to The Dive!".[8]

The screenplay for this music video was written by Jim Steinman and he also produced and co-directed it[6].

Excerpts of the music video are shown on a TV during Tyler's 1992 music video for "The Desert Is in Your Heart".


The video opens with some exposition from an elderly woman with a British accent. She speaks of her past - she was a singer and owner of a club called The Dive in an area called The Deep End, and this music video reflects what happened in her past - at the turn of the 21st century, during a time of warfare.

The video then cuts and widens full-screen as the song begins. We see a dark alley full of people, some nuns in the background, a boy in a black leather jacket and his dog. One man in the alley with "DIVE" painted on his forehead pulls another along on a chain, presumably a slave. We then cut to a dressing room in a club - Bonnie Tyler sits in front of a mirror, reading a newspaper - one headline: "City under siege". At this point we realise: the Bonnie Tyler character is the elderly woman's flashback to the past she described earlier.

The boy seen earlier with the dog begins running down the stairs and yells to Bonnie "Hey! It's showtime doll, showtime! You ready, you ready, you ready?" to which she replies: "I'm ready, I'm ready, I was born ready".

The scene flashes briefly to the dark alley - the war, some nuns, some medics.

It then returns to a different woman - in red, opening a door and inviting us in: "Ah! Welcome to The Dive! You won't believe your eyes! Or any other part of your body! Hahahahaha! This section here, is for colors only! And that section, is for black and white!" as the colour fades from the video and the room is shown in monochrome. There are dancers everywhere. The colors section does contain mainly people of color, some in tribal costumes and paint. The black and white section does too, but also contains people in centuries-old European clothes, in the same tribal paint - think Adam Ant. There are also semi naked muscular men, some caught like flies in a giant spider web, dozens of feet high. Bonnie Tyler is lowered from the ceiling, singing, past the spider web, and everyone stops dancing.

As she continues to sing, we see both sections of the room - half monochrome and half color - and people dance freely from one side to the other, crossing over and gaining or losing color as they cross over. Bonnie sings in black and white, an enormous cloth falls from behind her and with it, color invades the whole room. Everyone starts dancing again.

Outside in the alley again, a gang of heavily armed girls corner a man who was just standing there, slap him to the ground, point a gun at him and force lipstick on him. The sound of a bomb whistling and landing is heard, and we see the dark alley erupt with fire, explosions. Medics run with a stretcher, and nuns tend the injured.

Meanwhile, in the club, Bonnie continues to sing and women cheer surround a pit of mud which contains four men (who are tied together in pairs) mud-wrestling. A man resembling the character Rambo glides into the room on a zip wire, landing on a raised platform. Bonnie and everyone behind her (men and women) raise Venus symbols at him. He begins to look worried, something moves and bulges under his skin, he tries to push it down, but it rips his skin open, and an arm begins to reach out of him mouth. His head explodes and he transforms into a shocked Marilyn Monroe lookalike. She walks down the steps, and blows a kiss to Bonnie as she walks past, who blows another back, while continuing the song. More singing and dancing through to the end - the boy in leather looks up at Bonnie.

Marilyn leaves the club, blowing a kiss to the camera. Walking alone in the dark alley - now desolate, small fires burning.

The voice of the elderly woman repeats as she did in the opening - "Down in the deep end, behind the walls of the dive - it was like a footnote to paradise".

Relation to other works by Jim Steinman[edit]

Steinman had already provided a small amount of gender bending voice work on his earlier works - he provided the "lascivious effects" for the song Paradise By The Dashboard Light - both the male and female lovemaking sounds. He recited the female dialogue "I'd do anything for love... but I won't do that!" on Bonnie Tyler's song "Getting So Excited" when she refused to do it.[9] By the mid 80s he was experimenting with androgyny, manufacturing the band Fire Inc for the songs in the film Streets Of Fire by blending the voices of female (Laurie Sargent, Holly Sherwood) and male (Rory Dodd) voices together as one to produce a single super-voice[10].

The theme of color vs black-and-white recurs in the song with the lyrics "can you colorize my life, I'm so sick of black and white?" in the song I'd Do Anything For Love. In early 2017 previews of his musical Bat Out Of Hell, there was a line in dialogue "Why are nuns so scary? It's because the world is in color and the nuns are black and white".

The scenario of this music video does appear to be part of Steinman's "Obsidian" universe. The location is mentioned in Steinman's earlier work Neverland[11] and is also a location in Bat Out Of Hell The Musical[12]. Bat Out Of Hell The Musical is set in 2030 according to the "Obsidian Times" newspapers they hand out at the show[13], whereas the elderly woman in this video refers to the turn of the 21st century. One character in Bat Out Of Hell The Musical mentions there having been "chemical wars" in the past.

The line "You won't believe your eyes.. or any other part of your body!" also occurs in Jim Steinman's own music video Dance In My Pants[14], and is spoken by a woman on the door of a different club. Rather than simple reuse of a joke, it may have been done to draw a parallel, or imply that both establishments are supposed to be in "The Deep End".

Live performances[edit]

"If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" was performed live in Zaragosa, Spain, in 2005. The performance was recorded and released on Tyler's album Bonnie Tyler Live (2007) and the accompanying DVD Bonnie on Tour (2007).

Track listing and formats[edit]

7" single[15]
  1. "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" — 4:00
  2. "Under Suspicion" — 4:20
12" maxi[16]
  1. "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" (extended version) — 4:46
  2. "Straight from the Heart" — 3:38
  3. "Under Suspicion" — 4:20


Country Certification Date Sales certified Physical sales
France Silver 1986 200,000[5] 271,000[5]



As well as making regular appearances on compilation albums, Tyler has re-recorded the song multiple times. "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" featured on her 2004 album Simply Believe and on her 2005 EP Bonnie Tyler.[28][29] In conjunction with the release of Wings in 2005, Tyler performed in Zaragoza, Spain, and the concert was filmed for her DVD Bonnie on Tour and CD Bonnie Tyler Live, which include the song on the track list.[30]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by Robin Beck for her 1989 album Trouble Or Nothin', produced by Child and his longtime collaborator Sir Arthur Payson.[31] The album also features other songs written by Child originally recorded by Tyler, including "Hide Your Heart" and "Save Up All Your Tears".

RuPaul recorded the song for her album Foxy Lady (1996). The album received a negative review from AllMusic, opining that the album was "an attempt to expand RuPaul's pop culture phenomenon status into a genuine career," but that it lacked any catchy songs.[32]


  1. ^ a b Curtis Child (15 August 2013). "Desmond Child Special". YouTube. Google Inc. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Hiltbrand, David; Shaughnessy, Mary; Small, Michael; Novak, Ralph; Levin, Eric (2 June 1986). "Picks and Pans Review: Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire". People Magazine. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Stone, Doug. "Bonnie Tyler – Secret Dreams & Forbidden Fire – Album Review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Speelman, Paul (19 June 1986). "Janis Ian: her idea of slashing time". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Bonnie Tyler's certifications and sales See: "Les Ventes" => "Toutes les certifications depuis 1973" => "TYLER Bonnie" Infodisc.fr Archived 2012-03-07 at WebCite . Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  6. ^ a b "A Footnote To Paradise : Bonnie Tyler - If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man) - Music Video". Jim Steinman's Dream Pollution. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  7. ^ "If You Were a Woman (and I Was a Man) [Version C] by Bonnie Tyler". iTunes Store. Apple, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man) [Version D] by Bonnie Tyler". iTunes Store. Apple, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Erotic Daydream". jimsteinman.com. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  10. ^ "Singing Is Fire". www.jimsteinman.com. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  11. ^ "Neverland - A Glimpse". www.jimsteinman.com. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  12. ^ "Bat Out of Hell the Musical — Script (Revision: May 29, 2017)". mljs.evilnickname.org. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  13. ^ "The Obsidian Times — Toronto edition". mljs.evilnickname.org. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  14. ^ Jim Steinman - Dance In My Pants, retrieved 2018-04-21 
  15. ^ If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man) (7-inch single). Bonnie Tyler. CBS Records. 1986. B00400WJM8. 
  16. ^ If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man) (12-inch single). Bonnie Tyler. CBS Records. 1986. B006M0FI5O. 
  17. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  18. ^ "Lescharts.com – Bonnie Tyler – If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  19. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Bonnie Tyler – If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  20. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 316. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  21. ^ "Bonnie Tyler Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  22. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Bonnie Tyler – If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  23. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Bonnie Tyler – If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  24. ^ "RPM 100 Singles". RPM. 10 May 1986. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Eurocharts Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Retrieved October 12, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Eurocharts Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Retrieved October 12, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Simply believe by Bonnie Tyler". iTunes Store. Apple, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "Bonnie Tyler by Bonnie Tyler". iTunes Store. Apple, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Bonnie Tyler Live by Bonnie Tyler". iTunes Store. Apple, Inc. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  31. ^ "Robin Beck – Trouble or Nothin'". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  32. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "RuPaul – Foxy Lady – Album Review". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 21 September 2014.