Songs of Girls Who Don’t Want to Get Married (Right Now) + Thanks

I have decided that I love songs about women who don’t want to be married. I decided this while listening to lots of Gillian Welch. Twas the song “Look at Miss Ohio” which triggered this decision. Also my annoyance with certain lines in Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. “Put a ring on it”? What are we living in the 1950s or something?! Uggh.

Then I realised I couldn’t think of any other songs about women who have priorities in life other than getting married.1 Other than the “I never will marry” song:

I never will marry
I’ll be no man’s bride
I expect to stay single
For the rest of my life2

But that’s usually sung as a heartbroken miserable song of despair, which is not what I’m talking about.

Can anyone think of cheerful songs of women who are happy to be single, who are not desperate to be married, of women who may want to marry some day but not right now? Please to share in comments if so.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against marriage. I am married myself. Happily even. Nor do I have anything against women wanting to be married. It’s just that they already have a tonne of songs. I want representation for all the girls who don’t dream of a big wedding and marriage when they grow up.

– – –

Thanks to everyone for all the lovely get well wishes. I is touched. Truly I am on the mend and is not that bad an injury. Trust me, I’ve had worse. But, yes, I will continue to not be online much for the forseeable and, yes, there will be more guest bloggers. Thank you, wonderful guests, and thanks again, faithful readers, for bearing with me.

Have a good weekend everyone!

  1. This probably reflects more on my dreadful memory than anything else. []
  2. Lyrics from memory thus could be wrong—too many keystrokes to google. []

59 comments

  1. Lauren on #

    I agree! although I have no songs I am one of those girls that doesn’t, (ever), want to get married. Thanks for the support! Get well soon!

    ~Lauren

  2. Kayla on #

    “That don’t impress me much” Shania Twain??? Haha.

  3. lisa on #

    hm. maybe amanda palmer’s leeds united, depending on the tone you give it. (“but who needs love when there’s law and order? and who needs love when there’s southern comfort? and who needs love when the sandwiches are wicked and they know you at the mac store?”) i feel like all of the badass ladies i listen to SHOULD have songs like this, but i can’t actually name any. this is supremely disappointing.

  4. Sarah N. Fisk on #

    I’d love to hear some of the recommendations! People think you’re crazy if you say you don’t want to get married or have kids… but I just don’t. They always say, with absolute certainty, “You’ll change your mind.” Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But if I don’t know, then other people can’t possibly know.

  5. Mardou on #

    The song that occurred to me was “I’m like a bird” by Nelly Furtado. Not about marriage specifically, but all about how she doesn’t want a commitment. At all. Because she’s like a bird. Hence the title.

  6. Natasha on #

    Guilty in here by Martina McBride–I think–works pretty well ;). I love the mentality of the song. Upbeat and cute. Playing’s not only good for the guys. ūüėÄ

  7. Chelsea on #

    I’m pretty sure I don’t want to get married. It would take a lot to change my mind at this point.

    “I Hate Men” from the musical Kiss Me, Kate is quite entertaining. I like Rachel York’s version the best because her voice is amazing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmekN39mnFY

  8. EditorialAnonymous on #

    Obviously Sinead OConner’s “No Man’s Woman”.

  9. Tez Miller on #

    It’s kind of embarrassing to be quoting the Pussycat Dolls, but here’s a snippet from “I Don’t Need a Man”:

    I don’t need a ring around my finger to make me feel complete…

  10. cherie priest on #

    “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child, which is actually kind of fun. It was the Charlie’s Angels theme song (from the remake).

    And, oddly, even with Beyonce in front … kind of an anti-“Single Ladies.”

  11. Lauren on #

    @sarah N Fisk I agree! everyone says: “oh you don’t mean that” and “oh you just Have to have kids” and I just said Ugh and turn away!

  12. Gwynne Garfinkle on #

    “Young Woman Blues” by Bessie Smith.

  13. simmone on #

    what about if she’s been married but wants out …

    am thinking:
    I wish I was a single girl again – by roscoe holcombe (I think it’s trad)

  14. simmone on #

    or – single girl by kossoy sisters (but again prob trad) with the great single vd. marrie debate

    single girl wears clothes so fine
    married girl wears just any kind

    single girl goin where she please
    married girl baby on her knee …

  15. Miriam on #

    I had a “singles only” dance song at my wedding because I knew how annoying all the love songs could be. I picked Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Single” oddly enough. The first verse is especially good.

    I’m not waiting around for a man to save me
    (Cause I’m happy where I am)
    Don’t depend on a guy to validate me
    (No no)
    I don’t need to be anyone’s baby
    (Is that so hard to understand?)
    No I don’t need another half to make me whole

    (Plus it’s very upbeat and great to dance to!)

  16. Kristin Cashore on #

    Single by Natasha Bedingfield.

    21 Things I Want in a Lover by Alanis Morissette — has a FABULOUS coda on this subject — see 2:05.

    No Mermaid by Sine√°d Lohan — I’m not actually sure what’s happening in this song, but it makes me think of what you’re asking about.

    ūüôā

  17. Karen on #

    Not fully on point, but still crudely fun: “Don’t Marry Her” by the Beautiful South.

  18. Kristine on #

    “Different Drum.” Linda Ronstadt’s first hit–I think she was with a band called The Stone Poneys at the time.

  19. Kristin Cashore on #

    Bridge. “21 Things I Want in a Lover” has a fabulous BRIDGE on the subject. Forgetting my song parts! ūüôā

  20. zvi on #

    TLC’s “No Scrub”? Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills”? They are, perhaps, more about rejecting dependent men than not wanting any man.

  21. Aja on #

    omg i love this :DDDDD hurray! I loved the guest posts but i’m glad you’re back!

    You don’t know a person like me,
    I could sell your songs to Nike!
    – and for all you know, I could save your soul –
    but I won’t be your Yoko Ono if you’re not good enough for me!
    – Dar Williams

    do you wanna be a polyester bride?
    do you wanna hang your head and cry?
    do you wanna find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale
    or do you want to flap your wings and fly
    away from here?
    – Liz Phair

    (this one’s already been mentioned, but i love it so here it is again!)

    Have you seen him in the morning,
    with a face that looks like death?
    He’s got dandruff on his pillow
    and tobacco on his breath!
    And he wants some reassurance
    with his cup of tea in bed,
    for he’s got worries with the mortgage
    and the bald patch on his head!
    So don’t get married, girls,
    it’ll drive you round the bend!
    It’s the lane without a turning,
    It’s the end without an end.
    Change your lover every Friday,
    take up tennis, be a nurse!–
    But don’t get married, girls,
    For marriage is a curse! ūüėÄ
    – (i think this is originally by the Dubliners, but not sure – I first heard it done by Houston Irish band Clandestine.)

    I’m in love with you,
    you’re in love with me–
    So why marry?
    The love affair ended when we said I do!
    – the Sweet Inspirations

    Those lovely Sunday mornings
    With breakfast brought in bed
    Those blackbirds look like knitting needles
    Trying to peck your head.
    The kitchen’s always tidy,
    The bathroom’s always clean;
    She’s a diploma in ‚Äújust hiding things,‚ÄĚ
    You’ve a first in low esteem.
    Your socks smells of angels,
    But your life smells brie:
    Don’t marry her–HAVE me!
    – The Beautiful South

    (very much out of context, but i think it fits:)

    Want me more than others –
    not exclusively – that’s the way it ought to be.
    Keep a tender distance,
    So we’ll both be free,
    That’s the way it ought to be.
    Marry me – a little –
    Body, heart, and soul;
    Passionate as hell,
    but always in control.
    – Sondheim

    Have some songs from independent women!

    Ella:
    I’m all alone when I lower my lamp–
    That’s why the lady is a tramp!

    Dolly Levi:
    For I can hear that choo choo callin’ me on
    To a fancy new address
    Yes, I can hear that choo choo callin’ me on
    On board that happiness express
    I’m gonna learn to dance and drink and smoke a cigarette
    I’m goin as far away from Yonkers as a girl can get!
    So wave your little hand and whisper, so long, dearie!

    Pirate Jenny:
    You toss me your tips
    and look out to the ships
    But I’m counting your heads
    as I’m making the beds
    Cuz there’s nobody gonna sleep here tonight –
    No, nobody’ll sleep here tonight!

    Violetta:
    Sempre libera degg¬īio
    folleggiare di gioia in gioia,
    vo¬īche scorra il viver mio
    pei sentieri del piacer!

    Laurie:
    Why should a woman who is healthy and strong
    Blubber like a baby if her man’s goes away?
    A weepin’ an’ a whalin’ that he’s done her wrong
    That’s one thing you’ll never hear me say!
    Many a new day will dawn before I do!

    Roxy and Velma:
    Many’s the guy who told me he cares
    But they were scratchin’ my back
    ‘Cause I was scratchin’ theirs

    And trusting to luck, that’s only for fools
    I play in a game where I make the rules

    And rule number one
    From here to the end
    Is I am my own best friend!

    ūüėÄ

  22. Mary Moline on #

    Ready to Run by The Dixie Chicks was my first thought. ūüôā

  23. Aja on #

    Also, I know, I knowwwwww, but I really do think that this

    Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
    But I realized some bigger dreams of mine

    – is pretty damn awesome to hear anyone saying, Taylor <3

  24. Cristina on #

    THANK YOU!
    I was just having a discussion about this earlier today. My friend thought I had something against marriage just because it is not on my current or even future plans. She was also convinced I could be ‚Äúfixed‚ÄĚ with the right person‚Ķ
    Then it went on like @Sarah N Fisk and Lauren above said!

  25. Karen Healey on #

    From the otherwise commitment-crazy musical revue, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, comes the awesome country-style song, “Always A Bridesmaid”, from a perpetual bridesmaid, where the chorus is “always a bridesmaid; never a bride”, as she lists her friends’ distintegrating marriages.

    And then it finishes:

    Too many weddings, too many messes
    But at least I’ve hung on to my pride.
    I’ve lived life alone, but the terms are my own.
    Always a bridesmaid, (thank you Lord!)
    Never a bride!

  26. Tansy Rayner Roberts on #

    I love ‘Divorcee at 23′ by Clare Bowditch. It’s not exactly about not wanting commitment, but it’s about a woman contemplating the possible end of her marriage to the father of her baby. Sounds depressing but it’s a very uplifting song actually! It came out just when I had my first baby and hearing a song about new motherhood instead of first love or whatever was really powerful to me.

    It’s about how she has to leave him in order to become herself:

    He was the best looking boy you’d known
    so you married him and made him home.
    Dropped out of university
    all because he said “Well Honey, you’re pretty.”

    Yes, you are pretty but you are not fine
    ’cause you’ve forgotten you’re partly Divine
    and if you don’t start crying,
    you may never shine.

  27. Mary Anne Mohanraj on #

    I’m not sure this is exactly what you’re thinking of, but I’ve always loved Bill Staines’s “Prairie Song”, from his album The First Million Miles. The internet didn’t seem to have the lyrics (!), so I have typed them out for you. Here, internet — a present. Amazon has samples of the lovely tune.

    Prairie Song

    He told her he was free; he was as free as any wind.
    “Don’t you count on me, for I may not be by again.”
    Then she touched him oh so easy
    As if she were but a child;
    And she whispered soft as willows do,
    And looked at him and smiled

    She said, “I have known the wind;
    It’s been a friend all of my days.
    I have seen it dance, across the prairie when it plays.
    And I have known the freedom too, in a wheatfield’s rolling sea,
    And they have never left me blue, so play your song for me.”

    When the morning came, he took the train to Omaha;
    Starry stars and midnight hours riding with him on the car.
    Now he’ll say that he is free, that he’s as free as any wind,
    But he’s feeling differently; he’ll not be the same again.

    For he sees her face in daytime dreams,
    And it lingers through the miles;
    She still whispers soft as willows do,
    And he listens, and he smiles.

    She says, “I have known the wind;
    It’s been a friend all of my days.
    I have seen it dance, across the prairie when it plays.
    And I have known the freedom too, in a wheatfield’s rolling sea,
    And they have never left me blue, so play your song for me.”

    — Bill Staines

    (In my head, he comes back to her at some point, but she’s maybe not even interested. Or maybe she is. Who knows? ūüôā

  28. Jaye on #

    George Strait’s “She Let Herself Go” is about a guy who figures his wife will fall apart when he leaves her. Excerpt:

    He wondered how she’d take it when he said goodbye.
    Thought she might do some cryin’: lose some sleep at night.
    But he had no idea, when he hit the road,
    That without him in her life, she’d let herself go.

    Let herself go on a singles cruise,
    To Vegas once, then to Honolulu.
    Let herself go to New York City:
    A week at the Spa; came back knocked-out pretty.
    When he said he didn’t love her no more,
    She let herself go.

  29. Parenthetical Sam on #

    How about Jim’s Big Ego’s “Prince Charming”:

    “you go out and see the world girl
    have yourself a ball

    you’re gonna have to be your own prince charming
    gonna have to ride your own stallion
    gonna have to find your own castle
    gonna have to raise your own sail
    and there’s gonna be a happy ending
    but that’s only the beginning
    this ain’t no fairy tale”

    I always find it inspiring. Much like this whole list! ūüôā

  30. Julia Rios on #

    I really like Patrick Wolf’s “The Bachelor” for this reason. It’s a man singing, but I think it works for either gender. I suppose that it could be taken as a sad song, but it just sounds so secure and confident in the decision not to marry that I like to think it’s not a lament.

    I am also glad to see that others have mentioned “Polyester Bride” by Liz Phair and “Single Girl” (I have two copies of the latter–one by the Carter Family, and one by 16 Horsepower.

  31. Shveta Thakrar on #

    Like you, Justine, I am fine with the institution of marriage (except when we say certain people can’t have it) and even hope to do it myself one day, but there is no reason everyone must. Just like there’s no reason every woman must want children. Or must do this or must do that.

    How about letting women just be who they are? There’s no one-size-fits-all way of being!

    So here’s to you, women, whether you want to get married, stay single, or find something in between. You rock!

  32. A. Grey on #

    I LOVE this song! As a confirmed bachelorette who doesn’t even date, I’m all about the strong single woman! And if you do date, that’s fine, but you don’t have to marry. My identical twin sister has been happily married for six years, with the guy for like twelve, and is expecting her first child. I, on the otherhand, intend to stay as wild as frog hair until the day I die. And I’m good with that.

  33. delia on #

    “The Miller’s Son” from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music comes off as a bitter-sweet celebration of the single life–even though the singer (a maid in 19th C. Sweden) clearly intends to get married. Some day.

  34. Jed on #

    Next Time Round was written by a man, but the lyrics are gender-neutral and I’ve only ever heard it sung by Jean Redpath.

    I think the lyrics on that page are a little off, though–in particular, I think one key pair of lines should be:

    “I’m heading down there and leaving you here
    We both know there’s more where we came from”

    The song’s a little melancholy at the end, but I like the sentiment of the rest of it.

  35. Jed on #

    Another thought: “The Miller’s Son” from A Little Night Music. She’s going to get married eventually, but she’s in no rush:

    There are mouths to be kissed
    Before mouths to be fed,
    And a lot in between
    In the meanwhile.
    And a girl ought to celebrate what passes by.

  36. kristin cashore on #

    One more, offered by a friend of mine: Judy Small’s The Family Maiden Aunt is bopping and bouncy and joyful. It focuses on her extended family’s refusal to understand but also on why she herself loves her single auntie life. Some of those lyrics might look mournful at first when read on screen, without the gleeful music. But the last lines confirm the happiness. It’s NOT a sad song.

  37. celsie on #

    A bit old now, but TLC sang a lot about independent women. Superchic[k] sang both ways, at times fighting that marital impulse, and at times, declaring their womanhood proudly.

    Some favorites:
    Bowling ball: “You have too much to give, to live to waste your time on him”
    One Girl Revolution:
    “Some people see the revolution but most only see the girl
    I can lose my hard earned freedom if my fear defines my world”

    Anthem:
    “There are trophies to win instead of being one of yours”

    I can’t think of anymore right now, and my ipod’s at home. I’ll post again if I missed someone really obvious.

  38. PixelFish on #

    Sadly most of the songs I have tend to be post-breakup songs about why we’re not going to take his no-good ass back. Or announcing that we aren’t. (They Might Be Giant’s Twisting has the lyrics, “She’s not your satellite, she doesn’t miss you.”)

    Ponder ponder….

  39. claire on #

    maria mckee’s “only once” is about a woman who was only ever tempted to leave the single life once, but didn’t: “i wanna be the kind of girl who’ll always make you proud/but the noise and fuss and wanderlust will always drag me down”

    and this may not be what you’re looking for exactly (i’m not advocating for adultery!) but the roches’ “the married men” is about a woman who keeps her independence by only dating married men.

  40. rebecca on #

    hmm. i dunno any songs. but i am sorely sick of beyonce and the song single ladies.

  41. Susie on #

    One of my favorites is called “Untasted Honey” sung by Kathy Mattea. The second verse is:

    You were faithful as a lover and a friend
    All the good times and the bad I’d live them once again
    But I’d never be contented with a family and a ring
    Better open your window, I’m a bird on the wing.

  42. Electric Landlady on #

    I was also going to suggest “The Lady is a Tramp.” (Not Pirate Jenny though. I mean, only tangentially, in that she is single because she’s a pirate queen and tonight her ship is going to sail into the harbour and blow the whole town to pieces. I don’t think it’s an ode to the single life in particular.)

    The Dixie Chicks’ “The Long Way Around” is also a fabulous ode to independence.

    Jann Arden, “Good Mother”

    Joni Mitchell, “Carey”

    I had a whole mix CD of songs for independent women once upon a time! Must dig it out.

  43. Sarah on #

    Matrimony by Whiskeytown. Very country, somewhat wistful, plenty feminist.

    Don’t believe I care to marry
    Though I could not explain exactly why
    Somehow seems to me that Matrimony’s misery
    Is just a faster way to die.

  44. kristin cashore on #

    One more from a friend: For One More by We’re About 9. It’s maybe less “don’t want to get married right now” and more “don’t want to marry you”, but that probably counts.

  45. flamefoto on #

    Not exactly anti-marriage… but anti- the sentiment of all-encompassing love: Natalia Zukerman’s Loved Like That :

    you would jump in front of a moving train for me
    you would throw yourself onto the tracks in the culminating scene
    and you always say you’d jump in a vat of boiling oil
    or coat yourself in anything that would make anybody else recoil
    you would jump across me and take a bullet to the heart
    but sit right down and listen to me
    before any of this jumping starts
    I don’t wanna be loved like that

    I wouldn’t jump in front of a moving train for you
    I think that’s a stupid and selfish thing to do
    just so that everyone can look and say
    oh look what she went through
    all that would be left of me is something I was trying to prove

    I don’t wanna be loved like that

  46. Jonathan S on #

    Not quite on topic, I suppose, but I think you’ll like this poem from 1872:

    To Miss Susan B. Anthony, On Her Fiftieth Birthday
    Poem by Phoebe Cary, 24 February 1872

    We touch our caps, and place to-night
    ‚Ä®¬†¬†The¬†victor’s¬†wreath¬†upon¬†her,
    
The woman who outranks us all 
  
    In courage and in honor.

    While others in domestic broils
      Have proved by word and carriage,
    
That one of the United States 

      Is not the state of marriage.

    She, caring not for loss of men, 

    ¬†¬†Nor¬†for¬†the¬†world’s¬†confusion, ‚Ä®
    Has carried on a civil war,
    And¬†made¬†a¬†“Revolution.”

    True, other women have been brave, 

      When banded or hus-banded,
    
But she has bravely fought her way
    Alone and single-handed.

    And think of her unselfish strength,
    
  Her generous disposition,
    Who never made a lasting prop
    Out of a proposition.

    She might have chosen an honored name, 

      And none have scorned or hissed it 

    Have written Mrs. Jones or Smith, 

      But, strange to say, she Missed it.

    For fifty years to come may she 

      Grow rich and ripe and mellow, 

    Be¬†quoted¬†even¬†above¬†“par,”
    Or any other fellow!

    And speak the truth from pole to pole, 

      And keep her light a-burning, 

    Before she cuts her stick to go 

    ¬†¬†The¬†way¬†there’s¬†no¬†returning.

    Because her motto grand hath been 

      The right of every human, 

    And first and last, and right or wrong 

      She takes the side of woman.

    “A¬†perfect¬†woman,¬†nobly¬†planned,” ‚Ä®
      To aid, not to amuse one, 

    Take¬†her¬†for¬†all¬†in¬†all¬†we¬†ne’er ‚Ä®
      Shall see the match for Susan!

  47. highlyeccentric on #

    I have a lovely version of “Stuff and Nonsense” sung my Missy Higgins. It was originally a Tim and/or Neil Finn song, but it really suits Missy Higgins’ voice and style.

  48. Tanglethis on #

    There are a couple of songs by Roma di Luna on that theme. I HIGHLY recommend Roma di Luna just on their musical merits: guitar, violin, a couple good voices, a lovely old sound. I’ll link to an old blog post in which I linked to a couple of MP3s.
    Single girl songs:
    “Fortune Teller” (download here)
    Well single girl oh single girl
    She always dress so fine
    Oh married girl oh married girl
    Oh she wears whatever she can find
    Single girl goes wherever she please
    While married girl’s at home on her knees
    Oh you know I love my man
    But my feet gotta travel this land!

    “Silver Dagger”
    Go court another tender maiden,
    And hope that she will be your wife
    For I’ve been warned, and I’ve decided
    To sleep alone all of my life

  49. Camille on #

    It’s different with the Beyonce song, to me, anyway. As a black USian woman, I all too often encounter the idea, especially from men (of a vast array of ethnicities) that we are supposed to be, shall we say, “free agents” with a million kids and no discretion. Let’s just say, I don’t feel respected by that sort of thing.

    That said, I always kinda liked “Single” by Natasha Bedingfield. I like the sound of it more than the lyrics — it’s very adamant. (Or songs by women that have nothing to do with their relationship status at all!)

  50. Allie on #

    I was thinking No Man’s Woman by Sinead O’Connor as well, but since it’s already been mentioned her song Daddy I’m Fine is another good one.

    Also, not specifically about marriage and written/performed by a man, but the sentiment is there regardless. It Ain’t Me Babe – Bob Dylan.

  51. Elizabeth H. on #

    Allie: Nancy Sinatra recorded a fantastic cover of Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe”. I highly recommend it.

    In 1928, The Carter Family recorded a song called “Single Girl, Married Girl”. It speaks to the freedom and autonomy of being single as opposed to the oppression many women suffered in marriage at the time. In light of the fact that spinsterhood was the most visible alternative to marriage, it’s great to hear the unattached woman being celebrated. Not to mention the fact that it was written and performed by Maybelle Carter, an incredible musician, wife and mother who continues to be a huge influence on music today.

  52. Nicholas Waller on #

    Beyonce’s ring has just been tackled by xkcd via Tolkien at http://xkcd.com/712/

  53. Allie on #

    Thanks Elizabeth H. I had a listen on Youtube. It’s great, very different from the original. I was also reminded of Joan Baez’s cover of it. She also did a great version of Silver Dagger which was mentioned earlier.

    Another one I just thought of – Precious Illusions by Alanis Morrisette.

  54. Fionnabhair on #

    Hands Clean, by Alanis Morissette. The way I understand the lyrics, she’s having an affair with an otherwise committed man.

    All That She Wants Ace of Base, perhaps?

    I Only Wanted Sex, Jann Arden

    Since You’ve Been Gone, Kelly Clarkson?

    Perhaps not ani-marriage so much as anti-commitment.

  55. Saints and Spinners on #

    Hi Justine! In college, I made up a song to the Shaker tune of “Simple Gifts” as a self-esteem boost:

    ‘Tis a gift to be single, ’tis a gift to be free
    ‘Tis a gift to live in solitarity. [sic]
    I need no one with me but myself, I, and me,
    And we’ll live in a house by the Baltic Sea.

    Dance, dance, the two-step by myself,
    I’m feeling good ’cause I’ve got my health
    And I’ll slap you hard if you say I’m on the shelf,
    For I live in peace with my cats and wealth.

    ***
    Years later, I live with my husband, no wealth, but two cats. I never claimed to be clairvoyant.

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