Helen Reddy, Thank You For Making Me The Advocate I Am Now!

Helen Reddy was onto something back in 1971 when she wrote and released “I Am Woman”.

While the song charted for only two weeks peaking at #97 and dropping off the chart, it was re-released one year later and peaked at #1.  It became the first #1 song on Billboard’s “Hot 100” from an Australian-born artist and the first song written by an Australian to win a Grammy Award.

However, it was so much more than that.

Reddy had already been on the stage for many years and she was ticked off at all of the men in the entertainment business that demeaned women.  Hell, even Reba McEntire was told back in the mid-1970s when she was signed to Mercury Records that they only had room for one “girl singer” and this was five years after Helen Reddy rocked the women’s liberation movement with “I Am Woman”.

Reddy recalls, “Women have always been objectified in showbiz. I’d be the opening act for a comic and as I was leaving the stage he’d say, ‘Yeah, take your clothes off and wait for me in the dressing room, I’ll be right there’. It was demeaning and humiliating for any woman to have that happen publicly.”

And, she says that was the inspiration for the hit that would become her signature song:  “I remember lying in bed one night and the words, ‘I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman’, kept going over and over in my head”

Forty years after “I Am Woman” moved mountains for women to demand their equality to men, the words of that song could apply to the LGBT community with regards to demand the acceptance of Americans and the world for the same civil rights and for  marriage equality.

Here are the words that inspired a movement in the 1970s and the words that inspire me today:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Oh, yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Helen Reddy, thank you for standing up for women in the early 1970s and for letting the strength of your words make me stronger in my fight until I make my brothers understand.

By the way, the first 45 rpm record I ever bought, thanks to my great grandparents, John & Helen Peoples, was “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy.  I was almost 9-years-old and the writing was already on the wall!

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I also owned “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” on 8-track, too!  (The other two 8-tracks I owned were “Totally Hot” by Olivia Newton-John (another Australian) and “Glass Houses” by Billy Joel.  Figure that out!)

Helen Reddy, live in 1975, “I Am Woman”

And, here’s a dance version by Jessica Williams for my LGBT friends from the movie, “Trick”, starring the incredible Tori Spelling!


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dixie on February 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I remember this song well. I have always loved it. I have always believed that songs have a way of getting to people. Thank you Anthony for putting this one on here. I haven’t thought of this song in years, but it truly stands for what I have been thru!!! I am strong, I am invincible..I AM WOMAN!!!!!


  2. Love it Anthony!…Those were some Great songs back then… Alot has changed but moving forward…Glad that things are looing up for us all. Thanks for sharing and reminding how great some things were back then….. U are an Inspration to us all<3<3<3 Thank U


  3. Wanda,

    You’re too kind. Thank you!



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