When A Man Loves A Woman

Album: Intimacy (1994)
Charted: 33 115
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Songfacts®:

  • Not to be confused with the Percy Sledge classic from 1966, this is a spoken-word song by Jody Watley where she gives her take on what it means for a man to love a woman.

    At the time, her marriage to Andre Cymone, who was also her producer, was coming to an end. "I was going through a lot of turmoil in my relationship at the time, so I was very focused on relationships," she said in a Songfacts interview. "The album Intimacy is all about communication and honesty, so I wanted to slip those thoughts into the song. 'When a man loves a woman, he'll respect you in front of his friends.'

    At the time, gangster rap had really taken over commercial radio, R&B in particular, so it was also my way of counteracting the themes that were very misogynistic and sexist."
  • Watley touches on domestic violence in this song, saying that when a man loves a woman, he'll "never raise his fist." She also brings up AIDS, a topic that was still somewhat taboo but something she thought was important to discuss:

    When a man loves a woman
    He knows the reality of AIDS
    He won't bring it home to you
    By some other love he's made


    Watley was an early advocate of AIDS awareness.
  • The spoken-word style and topical lyrics were influenced by the 1973 gospel album Like A Ripple On A Pond by the poet Nikki Giovanni.
  • "When A Man Loves A Woman" was the first single from Watley's fourth album, Intimacy. It was her last album with MCA Records, which signed her in 1986, three years after she left the R&B/funk group Shalamar. Watley set up her own label, Avitone, for her next album.
  • Watley wrote this song with Larry "Rock" Campbell, who has also worked with Justin Timberlake, Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé.

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