50 Years of Music: 1997 – White Town - "Your Woman"

KEXP 50
06/22/2022
Emily Fox

As KEXP celebrates its 50th anniversary, we're looking back at the last half-century of music. Each week in 2022, KEXP pays homage to a different year and our writers are commemorating with one song from that year that resonates with them. This week, Emily Fox looks back on White Town's "Your Woman" and unlocking the mystery of a favorite song. Read or listen to the piece below.


This is Sound & Vision on KEXP, I’m Emily Fox. As KEXP celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, each week KEXP celebrates one year of music from the last half-century. This week we celebrate the year 1997. I want to take a moment to reflect on the 1997 song “Your Woman” by the one hit wonder White Town and how the track kept circling back into my life  every decade since its release. 

The summer of 1997 was my introduction to popular music. I had just heard Seal’s song, “Kiss From A Rose” from a movie soundtrack and was hooked. 


My older cousin was living with my family while attending the nearby Michigan State University. I asked him where I could hear this type of music on a regular basis. He pointed me to the right radio station. All summer, as he drove me to appointments and summer camps, we listened to that radio station. Hits like “Return of the Mack” and “Freshman” by the local band The Verve Pipe were in heavy rotation. 

But there was one song that stumped me — White Town’s "Your Woman." The sound was so different. I was used to hearing Tracy Chapman blasting through my family’s house. In a similar vein, I couldn’t really tell if this vocalist was a man or a woman. It sounded more like a man. But he was singing about how he could never be your woman? 


I vaguely remember one of those TV commercials where you had to call in to buy a mixed CD of hits from the 90s. Your Woman was one of the songs on the CD. As the commercial ran, you’d hear a clip of the song, but the image on the screen was what I remembered to be a black and white video of a woman walking around in a trench coat and heels. Was that the person who was singing this song?

Another decade went by, and the song started to fade from my memory. Then, in college, I started to feel nostalgic for those late 90s jams. I remember asking my friends if they remembered that song that sounded like a man but maybe a woman singing about being a woman? No one knew what I was talking about. Then one day it came on my college radio station. That’s the one. I downloaded it and put it into my personal heavy rotation playlist.

Fast forward to this year and I got a chance to meet the one hit wonder behind the song Your Woman. An acquaintance over at BMG Records pitched the story to Sound & Vision to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the song’s release. BMG had tried to get the songwriter to do an online campaign to promote the anniversary, but he said no. BMG quoted the songwriter’s response in their pitch to me. He wrote:


“I am on a personal mission to get men to talk about our emotions more. That's a conversation I would love to bring to a wider audience as I was first suicidal at the age of seven, due to racist bullying at school. The fact that I'm still here is, in itself, a victory for me. The whole reason I'm an artist is because of that experience of bullying, of depression and trying to work out where my place is in this society.”

Now there’s a story.

I then got to interview the man behind White Town’s Your Woman. His name is Jyoti Mishra. He was raised by immigrants from India in the UK. He was so dang friendly. He wanted to ask me the same amount of questions I was asking him. He wanted to know as much about my life as I was learning about him.  Yes, he was very open about his battle with depression, the racism and bullying he experienced growing up, of being saved by music, how he’s a Marxist and addressing sexism in his 90s hit. 

Jyoti also told me that he purposely pulled the single “Your Woman” from the U-S charts as it was climbing to the top because he wasn’t ready to experience another wave of fame he felt when the song flooded the UK airwaves. 
As we were wrapping up our chat, Jyoti was talking about how much he loves music. How he’s still making music even though none of it will succeed the same way “Your Woman” did. Once we stopped recording, I referenced a song and started singing the melody out loud. He stopped me and said, “You never told me you were a singer.” I went on to say singing was a huge part of my life growing up and that I was a vocal music major in college. He got so excited. 

He started emailing me videos and links of all these vocalists I remind him of. He asked if I would record myself covering a few of his recent songs. He said he wanted to work with me. He wanted me to be a musical collaborator. I still haven’t followed up with that request yet, but I sure do hope I make time soon.
White Town’s Your Woman is no longer a mysterious one hit wonder to me anymore. And maybe, with enough magic, the two of us could break the one hit wonder spell and put out another hit together? Stay tuned. 

Listen to Emily’s interview with Jyoti Mishra, the man behind White Town’s "Your Woman."
 

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