Thursday, August 28, 2008


In popular literature, song, poetry, and film, the femme fatale is a wicked, dangerous, irresistibly alluring woman who seduces and then leads her lover to his doom. She represents the male fear of female sexuality, that is, the danger of the single woman unfettered by conventional restraints: marriage (monogamy), home, church, family, motherhood. In ancient Greek mythology, she’s variously represented, by the Sirens (think of Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses”: How his naked ears were tortured by the Sirens sweetly singing) and by Circe, who turns men into swine. In the Judeo-Christian, or Biblical, tradition, she has received various incarnations, proper names such as Lilith, Eve, Jezebel, Delilah, and Salomé. Actually, these five female figures embody all the characteristics of the femme fatale: witch or pagan (Lilith), complete ontological destruction (Eve), sexual seductiveness (Delilah), apostasy (Jezebel), and cruelty (Salomé).

In popular song, especially rock and country music, the femme fatale is widely celebrated, and upon occasion has been given a new proper name, but remains the same old belle dame sans merci.

A Few Exemplary Songs About the Femme Fatale:

The Beatles – Girl
Big Star – Femme Fatale
Cream – Tales of Brave Ulysses
Derek and the Dominos – Layla
Duran Duran – Femme Fatale
Bob Dylan – As I Went Out One Morning
Hall & Oates – Maneater
Lefty Frizzell– Long Black Veil
Chris Isaak – Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing
George Jones – The Grand Tour
Tom Jones – Delilah
Roy Orbison – Leah
Dolly Parton – Jolene
Stan Ridgway – Peg and Pete and Me
Marty Robbins – El Paso
Marty Robbins – Devil Woman
Kenny Rogers and The First Edition – Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town
Kenny Rogers – Lucille
Billy Joe Royal – Cherry Hill Park
Simon & Garfunkel – Cecilia
Rick Springfield – Jessie's Girl
The Faces – Stay With Me
Rod Stewart – Maggie May
The Velvet Underground – Femme Fatale
ZZ Top - Pearl Necklace

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