Music Friday: Gladys Knight Laments, ‘You’re Like a Diamond But She Treats You Like Glass’ in 1970’s ‘If I Were Your Woman’

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Gladys Knight & the Pips tell a story of unrequited love in their 1970 hit single, “If I Were Your Woman.”

In the song, the protagonist is a young woman whose love interest won’t give her the time of day. His attention is focused on a rival, despite the fact that she treats him so poorly. Songwriters Gloria Jones, Pamela Joan Sawyer and Clay McMurray use a diamond vs. glass comparison to describe how the two women feel toward the same man.

Knight sings, “She tears you down darlin’, says you’re nothing at all / But, I’ll pick you up darling, when she lets you fall / You’re like a diamond but she treats you like glass / Yet you beg her to love you, but, me you don’t ask.”

According to music trivia websites Songfacts.com and Allmusic.com, the song came together while Jones and Sawyer were having a lunchtime discussion about women’s issues, including the Women’s Liberation Movement, which was still in its infancy. They were looking to compose a piece about how women could be committed in their relationships while remaining strong and independent.

“If I Were Your Woman” appears as the first track from Gladys Knight & the Pips’ album of the same name. The single zoomed all the way to #1 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

The song has been covered by a number of top artists, including Stephanie Mills (1988) and Alicia Keys (2006). The Keys version received a nomination for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

Established in Atlanta as The Pips in 1952, the group led by founding member Gladys Knight topped the music charts for more than three decades. Gladys Knight & the Pips are multiple Grammy and American Music Award winners and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The group disbanded in 1989, but Knight went on to a successful solo career. Also known as The Empress of Soul, Knight continues to tour at the age of 72.

Please check out the audio track of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ original version of “If I Were Your Woman.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“If I Were Your Woman”
Written by Gloria Jones, Pamela Joan Sawyer and Clay McMurray. Performed by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

If I were your woman and you were my man,
you’d have no other woman, you’d be weak as a lamb.
If you had the strength to walk out that door,
My love would over rule my sense, and I’d call you back for more,
If I were your woman.
If I were your woman, and you were my man. Um baby.

She tears you down darlin’, says you’re nothing at all.
But, I’ll pick you up darling, when she lets you fall.
You’re like a diamond but she treats you like glass.
Yet you beg her to love you, but, me you don’t ask.
If I were your woman, If I were your woman.
If I were your woman, here’s what I’d do,
I’d never, no, no, stop loving you.
Yeah, yeah, um

Life is so crazy, a love is unkind.
Because she came first, darling, will she hang on your mind?
You’re a part of me, and you don’t even know it.
I’m what you need, but I’m too afraid to show it.
If I were your woman, If I were your woman,
If I were your woman, here’s what I’d do.
Never, no, no, no, stop loving you, ah, yeah.
If I were your woman, here’s what I’d do.
Never, never stop loving you if

Credit: Photo by Rob Mieremet (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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