“There’s a new swivel-hipped, forelock-in-the-face loverboy in town.” –Eric Levin, People Magazine, 1994
Steve Kolander was rockabilly when rockabilly wasn’t cool, to borrow a line from Barbara Mandrell. Sometimes I wonder if he was ever told that the ’50s ended. Back in ’94, this song was featured in New Country magazine, which the more posts I write for this blog, the more I realize how much that magazine shaped my musical tastes some fifteen years ago.
(As I usually recommend) get some headphones for this one. The hooks here are all about atmosphere. Kolander creates a world that never left 1959, like the ’59 Cadillac that adorns the cover of his debut album that first featured this song. A steel guitar is the only anomaly from this being something you’d hear from the likes of Buddy Holly. It’s prominent in the mix, perhaps in an attempt to pull in the country contingent of listeners, but it enhances the picture of ’50s bliss, rather than detracts. At the center of all this is Steve’s voice. Steve sounds like he has his own natural autotune, long before today’s era, where computer software makes extreme pitch changes purely mechanical. The song begins with that steel and a nice Spanish-style guitar setting up that atmosphere. The structure stays to form from here, though it is unconventional. The chorus comes first here, followed by verse 1, and then the same with verses 2 and 3. The verses (to my ear at least), actually sound more two distinct bridges, verse two coming after a subdued steel solo, then Steve finishes it off with a final chorus and tag.
It takes a few listens to start hearing the words here. It’s an appeal from a man who’s been through the experience to do more than “listen” to your woman, but to catch all the subtle cues that most men can’t pick up. The two verses read like a man dictating his stories to a young reporter. Take verse one for instance: “Her smile is like a sunny day, clouds rolled in as I looked away, then the rain came down I wondered how I could keep her out of the pain.” I can easily imagine a grizzled ex-husband recalling just how his relationship went south. The chorus gets a bit desperate as well: “Listen to your woman or you’ll lose it all.” A new metaphor of royalty threads through verse two, and also turns to the present tense, leading the listener to wonder where this guy’s relationship actually stands. Here it sounds like they’re still together, or maybe this is a new narrator altogether. Either way, the last of the last verse switches back to the weather metaphor, “it gets cold a lot, and it may not thaw ’til spring.”
Even if you didn’t experience the ’50s (like me), the best part about this song is how it can make you feel like you’re in that drive-in movie park that’s on the album cover. Try to imagine a world without internet, color TV, or up to the minute celebrity news updates. Spin this gem in whatever format you’ve got and (if you’ve got one) try to do nothing but listen to your woman when she don’t talk at all. That should teach a ton more than a thousand searches on Google.Preview Listen to Your Woman