I read this thread a few days ago (when it was only one page) and the question had me thinking so many thoughts over these days that I figured I'd respond.
One thing I was going to post was very similar to this. Thank you, Ann, for posting it:
While we women may not be able to identify AS the narrators of many of these songs, how many straight men can feel like he's talking TO them directly. There are little magic parts that he does live that are particularly intimate. I was listening to his version of Up on the Roof and there's a part where he says-sings very low "just me and you" that is incredibly evocative and personal. I can't imagine being a straight man and thrilling to that aside.
But, as a woman, I surely can.
I was especially struck by this post:
As a woman of a certain age (61) I remember reading a Nancy Drew book at the age of 4 (I was a precocious reader), and while I didn't understand a lot of it, I very much liked stories which included female protagonists. They were not the norm as I was growing up and I, too, developed the trick to which berlintramp refers. I didn't even do it consciously, just imposed myself into the role of the protagonist empathically, which is probably a factor in my not adopting many of the "feminine" characteristics/goals of my generation.
I would say that in addition to being sung to by Bruce, I identified with the narrator of his songs. At one point, The Promised Land was personally anthemic lyrically. And when he sang, "Mister, I ain't a boy, no I'm a man," sometimes I sang "woman" in place of "man" (and no, it doesn't scan). I came to accept that, for me, when he sings "man", he means the universal person deserving to be treated as an adult.
Which then moved me into a whole different mental issue--what does it mean to become a woman--we so often hear, "Be a man," but never "Be a woman." "Man up" but never "Woman up." Maybe Megan Rapinoe will change all that
But that's a digression I will cease.
As a woman, I can appreciate Bruce's songs both "AS" and "TO"--he speaks for and to me.