Comment of the Moment: Why Does A Man Need A Maid?
The Comment of the Moment is on the song "The Maid Needs a Maid" by Emily Haines by Roger N.
Great point about the Heart of Gold insertion in the Massey Hall version of this song. (I've thought about that too and how the songs have a cohesion/compatibility to them, even though it may not seem that way on the surface.)
I read a "Man Needs a Maid" as someone (whether it's Neil, who knows -- poets often create alternate personas) trying to convince himself that he needs only material support when, in all actuality, the narrative is that of someone who is truly wounded and needs much more.
In other words, he is trying to convince himself that having a person cook and clean for him is enough. This is a coping mechanism so that he can disengage and not feel wounded from what may be his realization of a failed attempt to engage with another person in the past.
Therefore, the chorus (A Man Needs a Maid) is not the reliable (true) voice of the persona Neil has created in the tune. The real voice is the person who says: "To live a love, you have to be part of." That is the epiphany, the realization, and the truism of the tune. Because this truism is painful -- perhaps due to one's failure to live up to this sentiment -- a perfunctory/crude sentiment like "A Man Needs a Maid" (all I need is someone to cook, clean and go away) is merely a coping mechanism for keeping this realization at bay. How do we know which is the true feeling and which sentiment is "all talk"? Look at the phrasing. Neil uses language like "I was thinking that maybe ..." I'll get a maid. Can the language be any less resolute? Meanwhile, the other sentiments ("To live a love") are spoken with so much more certitude.
The song as a whole reflects a struggle between engagement and disengagement. The thought that "all a man needs is a maid" is merely a method for convincing one's self that material support is all one needs, that detachment is the best course for dealing with "relationships," so as not to get hurt, even though what the narrator really knows is that it takes engagement (and giving of one's self) to make the relationship work.
It's a much more complex song than people give Neil credit for -- largely for their failure to see the psychological dynamic that is going on. To read this as a sexist song is to disregard Neil's artistic skill at creating a voice that seems to be saying one thing on the surface, but really means another thing altogether.
Anyone who has gone through a tough time in a relationship will be able to relate to the mood of this piece -- and how it shows the way we try to convince ourselves of one sentiment, even when we know the opposite is true.
More lyrics analysis of Neil Young songs.