My little group of chums at the local pub music night have the idea firmly fixed in their heads that I’m a writer of sexist songs. When a bunch of musical types get together, they often ask each other “what’s your genre?” and the answer might be Folk, R&B or Skiffle – or in extreme cases Delta Blues, Ethereal Pop or Thrashcore. No-one bothers asking me, because it’s generally accepted that my particular genre is UK Pub Rock Urban Folk Comic Misandry.
This reputation stems from an early piece that had the lines “Having seen you eat asparagus, I’d rather take a monkey home instead” and “your clothes, your hair, the way you breathe, the way you drink your tea – everything you do and say annoys and antagonises me”.
A later song produced the lines “It’s a mystery that I can’t explain – he’s like a retarded slug with water on the brain” and “what can you do when a man won’t listen… I think I’ll have to buy that man a hearing aid”.
I seem to be constitutionally unable of treating songwriting as anything other than a comedy vehicle, so I’m unlikely to ever be Diane Warren or Guy Chambers or that bloke whose name escapes me who writes all the Meat Loaf songs.
Anyhow, the upshot of the retarded slug song was a challenge from one of the blokes at the pub – couldn’t I write a song that wasn’t anti-man? I tried to oblige by devising something loosely based on that nice romantic tune of Dolly Parton’s, I Will Always Love You. Somehow, though, I couldn’t find the words to match the pathos of that song. It started off well: “I said I’d write a love song, just to prove I can…” but my subsequent difficulty matching content to melody is illustrated by this later excerpt: “Oh men, oh men, why is it never easy? I start off feeling horny and end up feeling queasy”.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised then, to receive an email at the weekend from a friend who appeared to be experiencing a certain amount of irritation with her resident male. “I’ve started writing a song,” she wrote, “can you do anything with this?”
She attached a poem that told a tale of a woman driven to distraction by close proximity to her husband. It was the old, old story of cupboard doors left open, washing up left undone, dirty clothes left strewn about, the kitchen left in chaos after a “cooking” episode for which he expected to be praised.
I was messing about at the time trying to master a new chord progression on the guitar – G, Gmaj7, G7, C, G, Gmaj7, A7, D7, G – and this worked well with a line from my friend’s poem that seemed to present itself as the chorus – “Men, you make us so perplexed. We always must remember that, you are the weaker sex”. After some tweaking and pruning to get it to scan with my melody, The Weaker Sex was born. I felt the chances were slim of my being believed at the pub when I truthfully insisted that these lyrics had not come from the pen of Yours Truly, and of course performing it would typecast me even more as She Who Writes Those Anti-Man Songs.
Still, I gave it a go. It was deeply rewarding, when I got behind the mic and asked “would anyone like to hear an anti-man song?” to hear the encouraging sounds of assent from the females in the pub. The men were less vocal, for some reason. They’d seen me approach the mic with only a single sheet of music, so they knew darn well they were getting whatever was on that piece of paper, so it wasn’t so much “would you like to hear?” as “you’re going to hear”.
Still, the song got a bit of a laugh, though when one of the women approached me on her way home and asked curiously “do you really hate men?” I realised my reputation as a sexist had been well and truly established. I quite like men really – well most of them, anyway. I’m going to try and change genres to something less controversial, like Vietnamese Trance or Salsa Erotica.