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LISTENING IN: Burton and Bachman at their best

No. 1 in 1970, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” – from its iconic opening guitar riff to the memorable lines “I don’t need your war machines, I don’t need your ghetto scenes, coloured lights can hypnotize, sparkle someone else’s eyes” – is unquestionably a classic.

It has also been called the quintessential Canadian song, vocalizing the distinction we see in ourselves from our neighbours south of the border.

There are plenty of different versions of the song, including some by Americans themselves, like Lenny Kravitz, and there’s a Guess Who performance from the Ray Stevens show (remember his hit “The Streak”?) in 1970 on YouTube that will make you smile on so many levels, but I’ve chosen this cool, stripped-down version from a 2008 Burton Cummings-Randy Bachman rehearsal that provides a fresh take on the familiar song – one that maybe never really leaves the back of our minds.

And with B&B touring again together this summer, the timing seems appropriate to remember and celebrate two of Canada’s greatest musicians, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings.

Lyrics

American woman, stay away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come hangin’ around my door
I don’t wanna see your face no more

I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin’ old with you
Now woman, I said stay away
American woman, listen what I say

American woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Don’t come knockin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more

Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, I said get away
American woman, listen what I say

American woman, said get away
American woman, listen what I say
Don’t come hangin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your face no more

I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be

Go, gotta get away, gotta get away
Now go go go
Gonna leave you, woman
Gonna leave you, woman

Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye

You’re no good for me
I’m no good for you
Gonna look you right in the eye
Tell you what I’m gonna do

You know, I’m gonna leave
You know, I’m gonna go
You know, I’m gonna leave
You know, I’m gonna go, woman

I’m gonna leave, woman
Goodbye, American woman
Goodbye, American chick
Goodbye, American broad

I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes

Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be
Go, gotta get away, got to get away, now go, go, go
I’m gonna leave you, woman
Gonna leave you, woman

Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye

You’re no good for me
I’m no good for you
Gonna look you right in the eye
Tell you what I’m gonna do
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go
You know I’m gonna leave
You know I’m gonna go, woman
I’m gonna leave, woman
Goodbye, American woman
Goodbye, American chick

-30-

First published at Travel Industry Today

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