I heard the lyrics as I prepared steaks on the grill one warm Saturday evening. They were coming from the Adult Alternative music channel that I’m forced to pay for each month as part of my cable package. For the record, I’m also paying for Metal, Contemporary Christian, and Toddler Tunes. All three are excellent choices when I’m tired and want guests to leave.
The band’s name was Ween. While the singer sounded British, Ween is actually an experimental US rock band, says Wikipedia. The song was entitled Your Party.
We had the best time at your party
The wife and I thank you very much
Had the late Dick Clark ever featured this song on American Bandstand, I would have panned it for obvious reasons: It didn’t have a good beat and I couldn’t dance to it. What did intrigue me was the singer mentioning his wife. It’s not a word often heard in song lyrics. Kenny Rogers sang about his “Lady”, John Lennon crooned over his “Woman” and artists from Michael Jackson to ’N Sync have immortalised their “Girlfriend” in song. But rare is the tune that contains the common word for female partner in a marital relationship. Rarer still is use of the word in a positive or even neutral context.
Want proof? Google “lyrics containing wife”. The results are slim. When I searched the phrase, the first hit came from The Who’s My Wife. Here’s a sample:
My life’s in jeopardy
Murdered in cold blood is what I’m gonna be
I ain’t been home since Friday night
And now my wife is coming after me
Not exactly the most glowing tribute to a spouse.
Next on the list was a ditty penned by singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman called When I Say Wife.
When I say “wife”
It’s cause I can’t find another word for the way we be
But “wife” sounds like you’re mortgaged
“Wife” sounds like laundry
I wonder how Richman explained to his wife that he equated her with a pile of dirty underwear.
Rapper Ne-Yo chose to use “wife” as a verb and what I think is an adverb in his song, Wife Her.
Even when you get locked up, you can call her up
She’s there for you. That’s the kind of girl you need.
One that you can wifey.
Don’t wait too late. You’ll miss a good thing.
Go and get the ring. And tell her that you wife her.
Then the Google list deteriorated into song parodies containing “wife”. With apologies to my wife, I found musical comedian Tim Hawkins’ spoof of Green Day’s Time of Your Life hilarious.
Hey honey, have you gained some weight in your rear end?
That dress you wear reminds me of my old girlfriend
And where’d you get those shoes? I think they’re pretty lame
Would you stop talking ’cause I’m trying to watch the game
If you’re a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don’t say to your wife
I did find a few sappy wife tributes but even those aroused suspicion. Frank Sinatra sang a sweet ode to his marital companion with I Love My Wife.
If rosy lips invite me
Well, that’s life
But just in case, you couldn’t guess
I love my wife
I’d get all misty were it not for the fact that Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded the song in 1976. By that time, he was on wife No. 4.
Finally, there was the Climax Blues Band’s 1980 hit simply called I Love You.
You came along and stole my heart when you entered my life
Ooh babe, you got what it takes so I made you my wife
Nice, but the singer also mentioned that he’d been drinking lots of beer and the woman who would become his soulmate picked him up off the floor.
I am not a songwriter or a poet, but I know when a void needs filling. It’s time for airwaves and iPods alike to include some positive songs about a man’s spouse and label her accordingly. Some guys, myself included, are happily married. Now we need to relay those feelings in song. Here’s what I have so far:
I was gazing at my WIFE one night while making dinner
That girl, my WIFE, she’s a real winner
Just thinking ’bout my WIFE, I lose focus, get the shakes
That’s why it’s her fault that I burned the steaks
Nobody ever said good songwriting was easy.
Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad
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