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
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:
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.
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: