Note: Seems as though I am doing a lot of book and play reviews this season, but there is so much great stuff out there, I want to pass it along. In May I saw the plat RESPECT and reviewed it in  At the Intermission, I spotted a book by the same name, contacted the author Dorothy Marcic, and received a review copy of the book, which expands on the play and adds great historical information to the play.

The author, Dorothy Marcic, has written an insightful and delightful book about women and popular music, which is actually the subtitle. Like the play, the book follows women’s progress from being dependent on their spouses to having a strong sense of self, with or without a man. The Dedication Page is a strong indication of what is to come: To my grandmothers, Dorothy Nelson Stordock and Josephine Druks Marcic, who lived courageously through many hardships, teaching me respect and strength.”

When I emailed Marcic about how she came to do the play and the book, this was her reply:

Living in Nashville, I hung around people who  were doing stuff  with music, like  analyzing lyrics. I decided to use  music to help  teach concepts in my Leadership seminars. It was wildly  successful.  When I got asked, in  1999, to give a talk about equality of  men and  women at the Baha’i  Social and Economic development conference  in  Orlando, I decided to use  some songs to illustrate my points, and when  I went to look at songs  since 1900 that women sang, the whole story of  women was laid out  there.

Since the book is all about music, the author has cleverly divided the chapters into movements. The title of the chapter is a movement and within the chapters there are verses: Here’s an example of how they are listed:

First Movement: Invisible, Dependent, and Sexy
Verse One: 1900-1929“I’ll Cook and Pay the Rent so Long as he Stays With Me”
Verse Two: 1930-1939 – “Innocent Sexpot Betty Boop and the Songs of the Depression”

Thus, each chapter in the movement and verse format explores the role of women and the archetypes of women’s development from 1900 through the 1900s through popular songs of the day. The archetypes range from the dependent/martyr type in the earlier part of the century to the compliant/jezebel type mid-century, onto the social/rebel in the 1960s, then more assertive and responsible female in the late 1980s and nineties.

Marcic draws upon statistics from the US Department of Labor publications, giving us such tidbits as how many women were in the workforce throughout the century, indicating a rise in WWII (Rosie the Riveter), then a decline after “our boys came home” to reclaim their jobs. Then came a steady increase in the second half of the century, especially after the Women’s Movement of the 19060s, spurred by Betty Frieden’s book, “The Feminine Mystique” and all that followed.

Throughout the book are snippets of song lyrics we all remember, such as “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar,” by Helen Reddy, or some oldies such as “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home”? Interspersed between the lyrics and the data and Dorothy’s own personal journey as she wrote this book are personal comments by people who attended her performances. (Marcic performed in  RESPECT the first six months as a one women play,  when it played in West  Palm Beach and  Ft. Lauderdale.When I saw it, there were four women performing the play. And her one woman play came before this book.)

History was not my favorite topic in school, both high school and college, because it always seemed so dry.  But Dorothy Marcic’s history of women in the 20th century through popular music makes history come alive!  In fact, I would recommend this book become a “text” in Women’s Studies at the high school and college levels.

Anyone who is interested in the way we as women have changed from meek, invisible “second-class” citizens to assertive, strong females capable of excelling in almost every profession imaginable, including those that were traditionally “reserved” for men, such as carpenters, doctors, scientists, etc. will find this book both entertaining and educational.

Sheila Shipley Biddy, President and owner of Shipley Biddy Entertainment, wrote the Foreword of Respect and some of her comments are worth quoting. They also summarize the concept of this terrific book:

For centuries women have fought the internal, and often external, battle to find their rightful place in this world……In the music industry, women have fought the battle to be heard in song and behind the scenes in executive offices throughout the United States. …..  Down through history, women have found their release through song….Dorothy Marcic heard those voices and chronicled the history of these songs in the twentieth century.

To purchase directly from, click on the icon below. (The one from Amazon may be a newer cover):

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