The Ballad of Lucy Jordan - Marianne Faithfull
“At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never
Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair
So she let the phone keep ringing as she sat there softly singing
Pretty nursery rhymes she'd memorized in her daddy's easy chair
The evening sun touched gently on the eyes of Lucy Jordan
On the roof top where she climbed when all the laughter grew too loud
And she bowed and curtsied to the man who reached and offered her his hand
And he led her down to the long white car that waited past the crowd
At the age of thirty-seven she knew she'd found forever
As she rode along through Paris with the warm wind in her hair.”
Where’s the Meaning?
This song paints the harsh reality of being a woman in the modern world. Through her song, Marianne Faithfull tells the story of Lucy Jordan. Lucy Jordan is the stereotypical image of perfection in modern America. She is caucasian, married with children, and a housewife who lives a lovely life in a lovely house. She is thirty-seven, a mother and a wife. Given all of this, she should be fulfilled, as though she is living in the unwritten ‘happily-ever-after’ of a fairytale.
Lucy Jordan should be happy, but she isn’t.
Lucy Jordan realizes that her life has passed her by in the hazy dream of a “perfect” North American woman. This is the sad truth that many women will face -- the reality that the perfect visage of the United States is not the glittering solution that it claims to be. The song describes the female version of the American dream; and it can be devastating to learn that it might all be a lie.
Through this song, Marianne Faithfull makes a strong feminist statement about the sometimes agonizing experience of being an aging woman in America. “At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never / Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair / So she let the phone keep ringing as she sat there softly singing / Pretty nursery rhymes she'd memorized in her daddy's easy chair.” In these lyrics, Lucy Jordan has finally woken up to the truth of her situation; that she has not been able to fulfill her dreams because her entire existence has been suppressed by her life as a housewife.
It is due to this that Lucy Jordan suffers a complete mental breakdown, and is only able to find peace in fantasy. She cannot change reality, but she can change her idea of reality. She takes comfort in her delusion, as that is the only way she is able to contend with her situation. This is shown in the lines, “The evening sun touched gently on the eyes of Lucy Jordan / On the rooftop where she climbed when all the laughter grew too loud / And she bowed and curtsied to the man who reached and offered her his hand / And he led her down to the long white car that waited past the crowd / At the age of thirty-seven she knew she'd found forever / As she rode along through Paris with the warm wind in her hair.” For Lucy Jordan, her only happiness is found through the sense of reality which has slipped through her fingers.
What does it mean to be a modern woman in North America today?
How has the reality of being a woman in the United States changed over the past eight years since this song was release?
How can stress affect the everyday lives of women? How are women still oppressed in modern society?
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