No. 52: Guess Who, ‘American Woman’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs
What on earth are five guys from Manitoba, Canada doing singing about an ‘American Woman’? Regardless of their original motives, this classic tune from these Canucks has landed the Guess Who on our list of the Top 100 Classic Rock Songs.
Hailing from the record of the same name, ‘American Woman’ vaulted to the top of the Billboard charts shortly after the single was released in March 1970. Ironically, the song came together in a rather unexpected way.
The song reportedly started as a live jam during one of the band’s concerts in Ontario, Canada. With the group finding their way along, singer Burton Cummings began improvising the lyrics, singing what he felt worked best with the rhythm.
Although some perceived the song’s lyrics to be chauvinistic, bassist Jim Kale insisted that the words were merely meant to reflect some of the social differences between Canada and the United States at the time, most namely around the draft for the Vietnam War.
In an ironic twist, the Guess Who were invited to play at the White House shortly after the song was a certified hit but were reportedly asked by First Lady Pat Nixon to refrain from playing ‘American Woman’ due to its perceived anti-American lyrics.
Watch the Guess Who Perform ‘American Woman’