Bitch

Album: Blurring the Edges (1997)
Charted: 6 2
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Songfacts®:

  • Despite starting in the music industry at the age of 15, Meredith was 38 when she released "Bitch," her debut single. The song explores the complexities of being a woman, and how one label cannot define her.
  • "Bitch" is one of those borderline offensive words, which created some problems for radio stations playing this song. While Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back" proved that it was possible to have a hit song with "Bitch" in the title, some radio stations still refused to mention this by its name, instead referring to it as "a song by Meredith Brooks."
  • Brooks says the song is about "re-education and realignment," adding, "until women integrate their shadow selves they can't become whole."
  • What Brooks claims to be in this song: bitch, lover, child, mother, sinner, saint.
  • Brooks wrote this with Shelly Peiken, who later co-wrote Christina Aguilera's "What A Girl Wants," but had yet to write a hit. She told the story in a Songfacts interview:

    "Meredith Brooks had a development deal on Interscope Records. She was writing and turning in songs to them and they kept dismissing her songs. I think she had one more song left and if they passed on it she would have to leave. She was introduced to me by her manager and I went to see her play at a club in Hollywood. I thought she had balls. I thought she could really sing. But I didn't know what to write with her. Then I had this really miserable day and I started writing a song with the line, 'I hate the world today.' I thought, Oh my God, I'm gonna call that girl Meredith because she needed a song to bring to Interscope.

    So I called her the morning after I had this idea and she loved it. She came over and we wrote it together start to finish. She picked up an acoustic guitar and honestly, it was just line, line, line, line. It was like ping pong. It was really wonderful. That's the way it's supposed to be: Somebody says a line and it makes you think of another line. When we were done, we were excited, but I never like to get my hopes up because this business is full of disappointments.

    She made a demo and took the song to Interscope and they passed! Her manager got in the car and went over to Capitol and Capitol signed her that day. She called me and she said, 'They're gonna release this as a single.' And I thought, 'No way.'

    I had been writing songs that were recorded as album cuts for 10 years without ever having a song on the radio in my country. When I first heard it, I was riding down a hill in Laurel Canyon in my tiny little Miata. I had a huge pregnant belly up against the wheel and I was listening to K-ROQ and I heard, 'I hate the world today' and I nearly peed in my pants."

    When "Bitch" took off, Interscope signed Brooks. She and Peiken wrote six more songs that were included on the Blurring The Edges album, which sold over a million copies. This was enough to buy Peiken a house with her own studio.
  • This song played a part in re-claiming the word "bitch" as a term of endearment for women. Stevie Nicks sang about life's challenges in "Sometimes It's A Bitch," but Brooks was the first female artist with a hit song where she refers to herself as a bitch, paving the way for artists like Lizzo to wear it with pride.
  • Brooks did all the guitar work on Blurring The Edges, including glass slide, some e-bow and wah-wah. She said: "If I had listed a guy as a guitarist in the liner notes, everyone would've thought that he played all the cool stuff. So I decided to do it all myself just to prove that I could. Now I want all those 13-year-olds - especially the girls who don't have role models - to look at me with confidence and say, 'I can do that,' and go and pick up a guitar. When I was growing up, I didn't have many female guitarists to look up to."
  • Meredith has since admitted that "Bitch" nearly didn't get recorded until a friend lent her some money to hire a studio.
  • This spent four weeks at #2 in the US, held off the top spot by Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You."
  • This song earned Brooks a spot on the Lilith Fair in 1997, but it ended up being her only substantial hit. Her follow-up, "What Would Happen," topped out at #46.
  • This was prominently featured on the TV series Orphan Black in the 2013 episode "Entangled Bank." Tatiana Maslany, in the role of Alison Hendrix, sings it before getting into a fist fight with her neighbor. Other TV shows to use it include Glee ("The Hurt Locker: Part 1" - 2015) and 30 Rock ("Sandwich Day" - 2008). Movies to use "Bitch" include:

    You, Me and Him (2017)
    Rock the Kasbah (2015)
    The Rebound (2009)
    Remember The Daze (2007)
    What Women Want (2000)

Comments: 8

  • Gramophone from Ukthis song is about borderline personality disorder,anyone who knows about the condition will appreciate this songs deep meanings,too many normies just skim over it and think its about strong women or some other normie s--t, im a child im a mother means i am a grown ass woman with the emotional developmental stage of a 3 year old due to an abusive childhood yet here i am doing adult s--t

    take me as i am, that means you will have to be a stronger man, cause you need the patience of a saint to deal with women with this condition, trust me
  • Birdman_euston from London, UkI agree with Paul that this transcontinental hit transcends time and place. It's so honest and revealing, I'm not surprised to learn that Meredith Brooks played the 'ballsy' guitar-licks herself (but thanks for confirming it anyway, Songfacts). Only a woman of a certain age (39!) could sing convincingly, "I'm a child, I'm a mother" but sorry, 'woman/child': the line "you wouldn't want it any other way" leaves this man cold! :)
  • Brenda from Ocala, FlFunny, my local radio station started playing this, no censoring. But Katy Perry Hot N Cold gets blurbed when she says "bitch.".
  • Mel from Riverbank, Cafeeling this song today. husbands can be whiny little bitches sometimes.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnI used to play this song with pride.
  • Lolo Brown from Gertrude, BahamasI love this song, its one of the only songs that allows a woman, or any person for that matter really, to let go of the standards and expectantcies people and society place upon them and just say "f--k you, i wont be who you want me to be unless its who i really am anyways so stop expecting so much from me and drop the guilt trips while you're at it". yeah! haha. thats what i got out of it anyways...
  • Paul from Marysville, Wa"Bitch" made me realize something about true anthems: they reach the people they're not intended for.

    Listen, you write a decent song about left-handed Latin teachers who drive Toyotas and live in the American midwest, and most left-handed Latin teachers who drive Toyotas and live in the American midwest are gonna dig your song.

    But you write a song for left-handed Latin teachers who drive Toyotas and live in the American midwest, and it reaches, say, right-handed farmers who drive Fords and live in Argentina, then you've written a true anthem.

    Bitch is a true anthem.
  • Joycemorrison from Phan *everyday* "borderline offensive word", that is. hasn't it lost its edge by now? i still remember when i first found out that "bitch" was an actual word for a female dog... anyway, i like this song. self-gratifying, i think.
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