It's a Man's Man's Man's World

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" is a song written by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966, in a New York City studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
Single by James Brown[1]
from the album It's a Man's Man's Man's World
B-side"Is It Yes or Is It No?"
ReleasedApril 1966 (1966-04)
RecordedFebruary 16, 1966, Talent Masters Studios, New York City
LabelKing 6035
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s)James Brown
James Brown[1] singles chronology
"Ain't That a Groove Part 1"
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
"Money Won't Change You"
Audio sample
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"


The song is written in the key of E-flat minor. The lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as "biblically chauvinistic",[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat ("Like Noah made the ark"), and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would "mean nothing without a woman or a girl".[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and comments about the fact that "Man makes money" to buy from other men. Before the song's fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in the wilderness. Brown's co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. Newsome claimed in later years that Brown did not write any part of the song, and she argued in court that he sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5] In May 1966, Record World magazine reported that Brown, King Records and Dynatone Publishing were being sued by Clamike Records for alleged copyright infringement of the Betty Newsome song "It's a Man's World (But What Would He Do Without a Woman)".[6]

The composition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded "I Cried", a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled "It's a Man's World", in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown's touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song's final master.[7]

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" became a staple of Brown's live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown's live albums starting with 1967's Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

Cash Box described the song as a "slow-shufflin’ emotion-charged item which points out that men are quite incomplete without women to love ’em."[8]

In 2004, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


  • James Brown – lead vocal

with studio band:

Other players, including trombone, bass and strings, unknown

Arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe[9]

Chart positionsEdit

Chart (1966) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[10] 14
France (SNEP)[11] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 8
US R&B Singles (Billboard)[13] 1
UK Singles (OCC)[14] 13
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[15] 25

Renée Geyer versionEdit

"It's a Man's Man's World"
Single by Renée Geyer
from the album It's a Man's Man's World
A-side"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
B-side"Once in a Lifetime Thing"
ReleasedNovember 1974
RecordedAugust 1974
StudioBill Armstrong Studios, Melbourne, Australia
LabelRCA Records
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s)Tweed Harris
Renée Geyer singles chronology
"What Do I Do On Sunday Morning?"
"It's a Man's Man's World"
"Take Me Where You Took Me Last Night"

Australian musician Renée Geyer recorded a version in 1974. The song was released in November 1974 as the second single from her second studio album, It's a Man's Man's World. The song peaked at number 44 on the Australian Kent Music Report, becoming her first Australian top 50 single.

Track listingEdit

Australian 7" Single
  • Side A "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" – 3:30
  • Side B "Once in a Lifetime Thing" – 3:30


Chart (1974/75) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[16] 44

Other cover versionsEdit

The song has been recorded by many artists in various idioms over the years.


Answer songsEdit

Uses in popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ a b James Brown interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 84.
  3. ^ White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. Tamworth: PolyGram Records.
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "It's a Woman's World". The Village Voice. December 18, 2007.
  6. ^ "Allege Infringement" (PDF). Record World. June 25, 1966. p. 3.
  7. ^ White, Cliff, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Are You Ready for Star Time?". In Star Time (pp. 29) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  8. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. April 23, 1966. p. 20. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  9. ^ Leeds, Alan, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Star Time: Song by Song". In Star Time (pp. 46–53) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  10. ^ "James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  11. ^ "James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "James Brown Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  13. ^ It's a Man's Man's Man's World – James Brown – Awards. AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  14. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  15. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5756." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2019/10/22.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992: 23 years of hit singles & albums from the top 100 charts. St Ives, N.S.W, Australia: Australian Chart Book. p. 124. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ Aniftos, Rania (July 17, 2021). "Christina Aguilera Reimagines Her Biggest Hits With the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl". Billboard. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  18. ^ Cashmere, Paul (July 18, 2021). "Christina Aguilera Performs With Orchestra At Hollywood Bowl". The Noise Network. Archived from the original on July 18, 2021. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  19. ^ "Coco Chanel Mademoiselle TV Commercial Featuring Keira Knightley".
  20. ^ "Hot 100: The Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Vol. 122, no. 24. June 19, 2010. p. 46. ISSN 0006-2510.
  21. ^ "Glee Cast – It's A Man's, Man's Man's World". α Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  22. ^ Malone, Michael (September 3, 2019). "Sean Hayes, Queen Latifah to Guest Judge on 'America's Got Talent'". Broadcasting & Cable.
  23. ^ Aniftos, Rania (September 4, 2019). "Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer Returns to 'America's Got Talent' to Perform 'It's A Man's World': Watch". Billboard.
  24. ^ "J Dilla – exclusive – The Wire". The Wire Magazine – Adventures in Modern Music.

External linksEdit