Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jack Jones – "Wives and Lovers" (1964)

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don't send him off
With your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

If you were assigned to choose one piece of pop culture ephemera that demonstrates just how much things have changed in the past 50 years, you could do a lot worse than this Burt Bacharach-Hal David song.

Last year, a fellow blogger said “Wives and Lovers” was the most sexist song of the 1960s:

This has everything a person could hope for in a sexist ‘60s song.  Ordering women around?  Check.  Emphasizing that a woman’s place is in the home?  Check.  Reiterating that it’s only natural for men to sleep around?  Check.  Offering demeaning advice to do everything you can to please your man and warning that he’ll leave you if you don’t?  Check.  Veiled threats of violence?  Checkmate.  It’s like Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis (who wrote the song and should get their fair share of the credit) distilled sexism in its purest form and smeared it all over Jack Jones’s smiling, white teeth.  And speaking of Jack Jones — his condescending, smarmy, yet totally earnest and chipper delivery is half of what makes “Wives and Lovers” stand above all the other sexist songs.

(“Veiled threats of violence”?  My fellow blogger is imagining things, I fear.)

I won't dispute that “Wives and Lovers” is a sexist song, but it belittles males much more than it does females.  (The same is true of “Stand By Your Man,” of course.)

Everyone from Andy Williams to Wayne Newton to Steve Lawrence to Dionne Warwick to Ella Fitzgerald to Lena Horne has recorded “Wives and Lovers.”  

The Frank Sinatra-Count Basie version of the song – which was produced by Quincy Jones – is in 4/4 time rather than 3/4 time.  According to Burt Bacharach, Jones told him that was because “[t]he Basie band can’t play in 3/4.”

Here’s the 1963 recording of “Wives and Lovers” by Jack Jones, which won the Grammy for best male vocal performance:

In 1979, Jones released a disco version of the song.  The less said about it, the better:

Click below to buy the non-disco version of the song from Amazon:

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