A Man Needs a Maid


"A Man Needs a Maid" is a song by Neil Young, originally released on the album, Harvest on February 1, 1972. It was covered by Dave Gahan and Soulsavers and is the fifth track on Imposter.


(from original recording)

My life is changin' in so many ways
I don't know who to trust anymore
There's a shadow runnin' through my days
Like a beggar goin' from door to door
I was thinking that maybe I'd get a maid
Find a place nearby for her to stay
Just someone to keep my house clean
Fix my meals and go away
A maid, a man needs a maid
A maid
It's hard to make that change
When life and love turns strange and cold
To give a love, you gotta live a love
To live a love, you gotta be part of
When will I see you again?
A while ago somewhere, I don't know when
I was watchin' a movie with a friend
I fell in love with the actress
She was playin' a part that I could understand
A maid, a man needs a maid
A maid, a man needs a maid
When will I see you again?

Dave's Take

"I haven't always been a fan of [Neil Young], but the encouragement of the rest of the band eventually brought me round. This song really does it for me. We all need a maid in life, don't we? Especially when things get dark. I'm lucky now, because I have one. My beautiful wife."1

"I hear this song and it conjures up the metaphorical feeling of helplessness. At times, even when life seems abundant, there can be this lingering feeling of longing, of needing something."2

My Take

This song understandably generated a lot of controversy for Neil Young when it first came out due to the interpretation of "maid." And did Dave basically refer to his wife as his maid in the quote above? Heh, um...but like Neil, I don't think he meant it in the literal sense in that she cleans up his messes for him and the like while he just sits around. There is a lot of nuance here...for instance, the maid that the singer is looking for in the beginning to merely "fix [his] meals and go away" turns out to be someone who does much more than that. He falls in love with the "maid," but not necessarily because of the narrow set of tasks that she does for him. I do like the story of how the line, "I fell in love with the actress," was very personal to Neil because it is also very personal to Dave (his wife is also an actress)! This should be an interesting one to hear from him, if anything because the two singers' vocal techniques and ranges are so drastically different.

Dave's version is simply haunting and beautiful from start to finish. It doesn't have the full orchestra sound of the original, but the music nonetheless manages to push and pull at the emotions. And Dave's rich and deep vocals give it a completely different feel, adding a sense of lushness and sensuality that I daresay is absent from the original. It also actually seems to soar more, too, and I think it's due to the addition of the backup vocals. Dave took on a folk rock powerhouse and managed to put his own glowing stamp on it!

Music Video

There is no music video for this song.


  1. "Apocalypse Jukebox", Q (June 2005)
  2. Imposter: A Story of Songs (tour program) (December 3, 2021)