From the archives of bizarrely questionable songs.
A Man Needs a Maid is taken from Young's fourth studio album, 1972's Harvest, which was recorded when he had terrible back pain (to the point of being bedridden). So on a literal level, the song is about not being able to take care of yourself anymore. The connotations of the word "maid" did lead to allegations of sexism at the time, which I think was narrow minded: A Man Needs a Maid feels like the opposite of sexist to me. Young is saying he actually respects women too much to even have a relationship, because he realises that he's just not capable of giving someone what they need. The character simply can't reconcile loving someone with his creative ministry. And so A Man Needs a Maid is really a portrait of a lonely man on a mission, unable to give anything – in fact he's desperate for help ("like a beggar going from door to door").
I'd always been familiar with A Man Needs a Maid, but the first time I properly connected with it was when I'd agreed to talk about Neil Young as part of an interview. Feeling quite daunted by the prospect, I spent a week or so revising Neil's work intensely. It was during these midnight revision sessions, at a time when I was away from home, that A Man Needs a Maid suddenly clicked with me. Neil's way is bold, but it's lonely.
Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!
All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Takedown Policy: thestranger.com/takedown-policy