It's a Man's Man's Man's World

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"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
Single by James Brown[1]
B-side"Is It Yes or Is It No?"
ReleasedApril 1966 (1966-04)
RecordedFebruary 16, 1966, Talent Masters Studios, New York, NY
LabelKing 6035
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s)James Brown
James Brown[1] singles chronology
"Ain't That a Groove Part 1"
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
"Money Won't Change You"

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" is a song written by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966, in a New York City studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.


The song's lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as "biblically chauvinistic",[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat ("Like Noah made the ark"), and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would "mean nothing without a woman or a girl".[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and comments about the fact that "Man makes money" to buy from other men. Before the song's fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in the wilderness. Brown's co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. Newsome claimed in later years that Brown did not write any part of the song, and she argued in court that he sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5] In May 1966, Record World magazine reported that Brown, King Records and Dynatone Publishing were being sued by Clamike Records for alleged copyright infringement of the Betty Newsome song "It's a Man's World (But What Would He Do Without a Woman)".[6]

The composition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded "I Cried", a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled "It's a Man's World", in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown's touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song's final master.[7]

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" became a staple of Brown's live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown's live albums starting with 1967's Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

In 2004, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


  • James Brown – lead vocal

with studio band:

Other players, including trombone, bass and strings, unknown

Arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe[8]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[9] 14
France (SNEP)[10] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 8
US R&B Singles (Billboard)[12] 1
UK Singles (OCC)[13] 13
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[14] 25

Renée Geyer version[edit]

"It's a Man's Man's World"
It's a Man's Man's World by Renee Geyer (song).jpg
Single by Renée Geyer
from the album 'It's a Man's Man's World'
A-side"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
B-side"Once in a Lifetime Thing"
ReleasedNovember 1974
RecordedAugust 1974
StudioBill Armstrong Studios, Melbourne, Australia
LabelRCA Records
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s)Tweed Harris
Renée Geyer singles chronology
"What Do I Do On Sunday Morning?"
"It's a Man's Man's World"
"Take Me Where You Took Me Last Night"

Australian musician Renée Geyer recorded a version in 1974. The song was released in November 1974 as the second single from her second studio album, It's a Man's Man's World. The song peaked at number 44 on the Australian Kent Music Report, becoming her first Australian top 50 single.

Track listing[edit]

Australian 7" Single
  • Side A "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" - 3:30
  • Side B "Once in a Lifetime Thing" - 3:30


Chart (1974/75) Position
Australian Kent Music Report[15] 44

Other cover versions[edit]

The song has been recorded by many artists in various idioms over the years.


  • Michael Jackson samples the brass introduction from the song for "Bad".[citation needed]
  • "It's A Man's World" by Ice Cube from his 1990 album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted.
  • The trumpet introduction was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan for their 2000 song "Gravel Pit" and by Nigerian-Greek rapper MC Yinka in the song "Χαιρετισμός" (Chairetismos) from his album "Αλάνα" (Alana).
  • 2Pac used a sample on the song "Tradin War Stories" from his 1996 album All Eyez on Me.
  • Rapper Beanie Sigel used a sample for his song "Man's World" from his 2001 album The Reason.
  • The song is also sampled on Alicia Keys' song "Fallin'".
  • Macy Gray sampled on her song "Ghetto Love" on her album "Big".
  • The song is also sampled on Guilty Simpson's song "Man's World" produced by J Dilla.[23]
  • The song was most recently[when?] sampled in a live performance by Jennifer Hudson as the prelude to her cover of Aretha Franklin's classic, "Respect".
  • The hip hop band Heavy D & the Boyz, sampled the musical introduction as the same on their track "You Ain't Heard Nuttin' Yet" for the album titled Big Tyme.
  • Young The Giant covered the song released exclusively on a Spotify Sessions track.
  • BTS lead rapper SUGA sampled the song on the title track “Agust D” for his first solo mixtape also released under his moniker, Agust D.

Answer songs[edit]

Uses in popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b James Brown interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 84.
  3. ^ White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. Tamworth: PolyGram Records.
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 7 April 2011.
  5. ^ "It's a Woman's World".
  6. ^ Record World staff (June 25, 1966). "Allege Infringement" (PDF). Record World. p. 3.
  7. ^ White, Cliff, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Are You Ready for Star Time?". In Star Time (pp. 29) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  8. ^ Leeds, Alan, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Star Time: Song by Song". In Star Time (pp. 46–53) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  9. ^ " – James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  10. ^ " – James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  11. ^ "James Brown Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  12. ^ It's a Man's Man's Man's World - James Brown - Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 3, 2013.
  13. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  14. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5756." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2019/10/22.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ Malvinni, David (2013). Grateful Dead and the Art of Rock Improvisation. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-810-88255-3.
  17. ^ "Coco Chanel Mademoiselle TV Commercial Featuring Keira Knightley".
  18. ^ "It's A Man's Man's Man's World (Glee Cast Version) by Glee Cast on Amazon Music -".
  19. ^ "Hot 100: The Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 122 (24): 46. June 19, 2010. ISSN 0006-2510.
  20. ^ "Glee Cast - It's A Man's, Man's Man's World". α Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  21. ^ Malone, Michael (3 September 2019). "Sean Hayes, Queen Latifah to Guest Judge on 'America's Got Talent'". Broadcasting & Cable.
  22. ^ Aniftos, Rania (4 September 2019). "Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer Returns to 'America's Got Talent' to Perform 'It's A Man's World': Watch". Billboard.
  23. ^ "J Dilla - exclusive - The Wire". The Wire Magazine - Adventures In Modern Music.

External links[edit]