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EXCLUSIVE | ‘Insulted’: Co-writer of I AM WOMAN angry at rewriting of history in new film

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The upcoming biopic of HELEN REDDY has infuriated the man who co-wrote the iconic song with claims his contribution has been completely left out

Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Helen Reddy in the biopic I AM WOMAN

Ray Burton might not be a name you know but you have almost certainly heard his work. As the co-writer of the song I am Woman his work inspired a generation of woman to stand up for equality.

But Burton’s role in the classic track appears to have been erased from history in the new film based on Reddy’s life.

Set to launch on streaming service Stan on August 28, having already premiered 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, a press release for the film states legendary rock journalist Lillian Roxon inspired Reddy to write and sing I am Woman.

Burton says he is ‘insulted’ by the movie and:

“that best describes how I have felt for decades.”

Burton and Reddy have certainly been at odds about the genesis of the song.

Burton, reluctant to speak about the ongoing controversy, points to the story he told in his biography The Man who wrote “I AM WOMAN” when he was working with Reddy:

Ray Burton co-wrote I AM WOMAN with Helen Reddy

At our next songwriting session, I suggested to Helen, “after watching and listening to you and your lady friends’ views on equality for all women, I believe this issue is a going to be huge, don’t you agree?” Helen said, of course it is, because it’s bloody well right! So I then said, “Look, if you feel so strongly about Women’s liberation Helen, why don’t you write something down for me to work on?” So she he did; and about a week later she presented her words to me on a flyer-sized sheet of paper. Her words were mostly in prose form; and not so much in rhythmic song form. So I tossed around Helen’s words all night and then some. I wanted the song-feel to be convincing; and come together in a perfect marriage of lyrics and melody. Finally, after a lot of manipulation and effort, it DID all came together! I remember was so excited, I immediately recorded a demo of the song with my vocal on it; and presented on tape to Helen the next day. I sensed a hit; and Helen loved what I had done with what had become, “a great song”!

Reddy has always been reluctant to acknowledge Burton’s role in the iconic song, while others (including Lillian Roxon) have been celebrated.

The gold record Burton received for his contribution to I AM WOMAN

Some commentators TV Blackbox spoke to on condition of anonymity believe Burton’s contribution has been ignored because it does not fit the narrative of the women’s movement. They say it’s not a good look to have such an iconic feminist song co-written by a man.

It’s a reasoning Burton himself understands. Speaking to Songfacts he said:

“Helen refuses to mention me in any of her interviews on TV, on radio or in text, and claims that she wrote the songs. This is incredibly annoying but I DO see her reasoning. It just wouldn’t make her look good to her female fans if a male had anything to do with the song; her credibility would be shot down in flames.”

I AM WOMAN premieres on STAN on August 28

- ADVERTISEMENT -

The upcoming biopic of HELEN REDDY has infuriated the man who co-wrote the iconic song with claims his contribution has been completely left out

Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Helen Reddy in the biopic I AM WOMAN

Ray Burton might not be a name you know but you have almost certainly heard his work. As the co-writer of the song I am Woman his work inspired a generation of woman to stand up for equality.

But Burton’s role in the classic track appears to have been erased from history in the new film based on Reddy’s life.

Set to launch on streaming service Stan on August 28, having already premiered 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, a press release for the film states legendary rock journalist Lillian Roxon inspired Reddy to write and sing I am Woman.

- ADVERTISEMENT -

Burton says he is ‘insulted’ by the movie and:

“that best describes how I have felt for decades.”

Burton and Reddy have certainly been at odds about the genesis of the song.

Burton, reluctant to speak about the ongoing controversy, points to the story he told in his biography The Man who wrote “I AM WOMAN” when he was working with Reddy:

Ray Burton co-wrote I AM WOMAN with Helen Reddy

At our next songwriting session, I suggested to Helen, “after watching and listening to you and your lady friends’ views on equality for all women, I believe this issue is a going to be huge, don’t you agree?” Helen said, of course it is, because it’s bloody well right! So I then said, “Look, if you feel so strongly about Women’s liberation Helen, why don’t you write something down for me to work on?” So she he did; and about a week later she presented her words to me on a flyer-sized sheet of paper. Her words were mostly in prose form; and not so much in rhythmic song form. So I tossed around Helen’s words all night and then some. I wanted the song-feel to be convincing; and come together in a perfect marriage of lyrics and melody. Finally, after a lot of manipulation and effort, it DID all came together! I remember was so excited, I immediately recorded a demo of the song with my vocal on it; and presented on tape to Helen the next day. I sensed a hit; and Helen loved what I had done with what had become, “a great song”!

Reddy has always been reluctant to acknowledge Burton’s role in the iconic song, while others (including Lillian Roxon) have been celebrated.

The gold record Burton received for his contribution to I AM WOMAN

Some commentators TV Blackbox spoke to on condition of anonymity believe Burton’s contribution has been ignored because it does not fit the narrative of the women’s movement. They say it’s not a good look to have such an iconic feminist song co-written by a man.

It’s a reasoning Burton himself understands. Speaking to Songfacts he said:

“Helen refuses to mention me in any of her interviews on TV, on radio or in text, and claims that she wrote the songs. This is incredibly annoying but I DO see her reasoning. It just wouldn’t make her look good to her female fans if a male had anything to do with the song; her credibility would be shot down in flames.”

I AM WOMAN premieres on STAN on August 28

Robert McKnighthttps://tvblackbox.com.au/robert-mcknight/
"Leading TV commentator" - The Daily Telegraph | "Known for his impeccable sources in the TV industry" - The Daily Mail | "Always first with the correct info" - Beau Ryan | Robert McKnight is a highly regarded Australian Television Producer having worked at SEVEN, NINE and TEN during his 25 years in the industry. Publicly he is most well-known for creating and producing STUDIO 10 but has worked on SUNRISE, THE MORNING SHOW plus other prime time productions in addition to creating award-winning news campaigns for both 7NEWS and 9NEWS. Currently, Rob is the host and producer of the TV BLACKBOX, MCKNIGHT TONIGHT and MONSTERS WHO MURDER podcast, and executive producer of AFTERNOONS WITH SOFIE FORMICA on radio station 4BC
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Comments

  1. What he wrote in his biography and what he told The Sunday Telegraph about what he said to Reddy, and how long it took him to massage her words, are somewhat different.

  2. … don’t worry … these kinds of shows have degenerated over the past few years from “true story” to “based on a true story” to “inspired by a true story” (eg ABC’s Stateless – we’ll pretend that it’s historically accurate but it really isn’t) to total fiction masquerading as historical fact (eg Viceroy’s House – we’ll pretend someone else did it) … all to satisfy someone’s personal political agenda or dopey point of view …

  3. I don’t know what it is Ray Burton wants, the movie is not about who wrote I Am Woman, the movie doesn’t even cover Helen writing the song. This is not nee unhappiness with him, him and Helen have had some sort of issue back in the day. Ms. Reddy has had numerous successful song, not all of them were named I Am Woman, she went after her success and achieved it. I don’t know howor when Mr. Burton is going to put this tired old dispute behind him, but he needs to.

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