In the months since the New York Times published an exposé on film titan Harvey Weinstein, his name has become a symbol. To "Weinstein" is now a verb. And "Harvey Weinstein" has expanded to become a catch-all noun for men who abuse their power. That's how the name operates in "Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now," a song written and performed by Amanda Palmer, former lead singer of the Dresden Dolls, and Welsh singer-songwriter Jasmine Power.
How do you write a song about Harvey Weinstein? Well, you don't. You write a song around Harvey Weinstein and his massive, tragic impact. "Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now" has nary a mention of the producer's name. Instead, Palmer and Power join forces to sing the inner monologue of a woman invited into the illustrious office of a man like Weinstein.
"Shut your eyes, pay no attention, just keep calm and carry on," one voice advises. Later, it adds, "Just turn me over fast and just get this over with."
Palmer wrote the song with Power days after they met each other at a dinner party. She's been fiddling with the idea of a #MeToo movement song for a while, but she wasn't sure how to approach it. She discovered that, next to another woman singer-songwriter, she could explore the topic best. "It’s not surprising that, just like the movement itself, it took two women getting into a room together, comparing notes and joining forces to create something almost like an anthem for taking back our narrative," Palmer says.
Still, writing about the #MeToo movement is hard. How do you take something so intensely personal and translate it into music, the universal language?
"This is such a difficult topic to attack as a songwriter without being corny or sentimental. That’s the thing about the #MeToo movement, it's really hard to capture in a piece of protest art, because all these stories are so personal, so fragile and so disturbing — that’s also why they tend to stay in the dark," Palmer says. "I mean, what do you do, grab a guitar and just scream 'Don’t Grab My Pussy' over and over again?"
Palmer instead trained the focus of the song on the internal. This isn't a sweeping indictment of men in power; this is just a portrait of a woman in turmoil. The song is purposefully baroque, with Palmer and Power's voices wailing over an insistent piano.
"Jasmine and I sat down and tried to do what only a song can do — paint a nuanced, impressionistic picture of how harrowing it is to be trapped in one of those situations, when a man is using his power to split your brain in two. No preaching, no politics, just a painting of a woman battling her own inner voices," Palmer says.
Palmer was hesitant to use the name "Weinstein" in the title. Originally, Palmer called it "The Hotel Room," but she wanted the title to have more political oomph. The current title is way more controversial, which might get Palmer some flak on Twitter. But she's already had one power player sign off on it: Palmer tweeted the lyrics to Rose McGowan, asking if she could use the current title, and McGowan gave her blessing.
Listen to the full track, below.