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Thread: SOTW: Man-Size

  1. #1
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    Jun 2010

    SOTW: Man-Size


    This was the second single from Rid Of Me released in July of 1993 and it made it to # 42 on the U.K. charts.

    I love this song. The lyrics are excellent as it's pretty much about those men who are obsessed with proving their masculinity. Though I do think it could be intrepretated as a woman having penis envy. I love how the melody explodes when she reaches the chorus and then it subsides for that killer ending.

    "Silence my lady head
    Get girl out of my head
    douse hair with gasoline
    set it light and set it free"

    Seriously some of my favorite lyrics and the way she delivers them is perfect.

    There's also sextet version which is really creepy and the orchestration feels so claustrophobic; which is excellent because it seems to capture that obsessive mindspace.

    Official Video:

    Sextet Live Version:

    Great Live Version from the White Chalk Tour:

    Awesome Live Version With The Band:
    Last edited by Jevello; 01-10-2011 at 11:12 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member AshaBlack's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    love this song. def a pj classic.
    the song has a real raw sexiness about it. it never ends too.

  3. #3
    megaphone to my chest MikeEP's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    i placed this song at #1 on my list in the top 20 tracks thread. i think it embodies everything i love about PJ. incredible songwriting, lyrics, and this raw power to it even when stripped down to its most basic form. it's just completely timeless and as vital as ever.

  4. #4
    Crow Winger Bruce's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    San Francisco
    Definitely a quintessential PJ Harvey track, and one that explodes live. She seems to enjoy playing it as well. I think Man-Size is a wonderful example of the humor of ROM that so many seemed to misread upon its release. I don't know if this is a penis-envy song so much as her just having a laugh at assigned gender roles and getting a kick out of fucking with pre-determined notions of how one is supposed to behave within their gender. Total bad-ass track.

  5. #5
    Lyrical acuity and mum-smarts menju56's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    ^ Good point. Sometimes I can't believe how critics often seem to miss the humour in her work. I've been getting back into early PJH in a big way lately and "Man-Size" is one of the key songs from the first two albums. The explosion into the chorus with that wonderfully powerful guitar playing is exhilarating. It's probably not my most favourite of the first couple of records but I think it's an important one.

  6. #6
    I'll echo what everyone else has said: it's a crucial track and is totally hilarious. But it also, imo, hints at self-denial and forcing one's personality to fit into a prescribed gender role. Which is what I think is referenced in the first and last verses. The sort of ritual of refusing and denouncing "feminine" behaviour, which is going to be a part of one's personality whether one likes it or not, for fear of being shunned or seen as vulnerable/weak.

    When I first heard the track I assumed the final verse was about homicide, mostly because of its brutal nature. It has that "killer-on-the-run" feel that I get from other ROM-era songs like Driving and M-Bike which probably influenced my initial opinion. Now however I think it has more to do with psychological frustration than overt violence.

  7. #7
    Alt Universe CliqueMember Spikey's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    To me, this is a very introverted song about insecurity, and trying to live up to your own impossible fabricated ideal selves. Because those ideals are always there (even though they change throughout your life), and your mind can hardly get around them, this song is always so relevant.

    Btw, I do not think the lyrics really reveal the gender of the main person. It could be a male or female alike.

  8. #8
    Tens Across the Board Banjee's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Miami Beach
    I remembering seeing the video the Beavis and Butthead show. What a riot!
    Last edited by Banjee; 01-17-2011 at 01:22 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cairn's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    This song has always been a favorite. I have always been partial to the sextet version and I LOVE the video. IIRC, it was done completely off the cuff and in one take (hence Polly losing the earring).

    I have never, ever got a penis envy reference from the song, some questioning of gender roles yes, but very much from the place of claiming power as a woman. I've always seen this song as connected to 50' Queenie in an "I can do what the big boys do" sort of way. Some of that power comes from sexual liberation, of course (casting iron knickers down=losing the chastity belt, silence my lady head=getting off).

    If anything, I see this song as saying "I don't need a man to make me complete, make me cum, make me feel beautiful," and certainly not "I wish I were a man."


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