Last week I told you about McCartney and how his first lyrics to “Yesterday” were “Scrambled eggs …” and then I wrote about the stories behind some of my songs. Here’s part two.
I was a radio DJ at KXCI in Tucson for six years. I loved to play Loudon Wainwright III’s “I Wish I Was a Lesbian.” Listeners told me they liked it so I thought I’d learn it. I sat down intending to do that … then I realized I AM a lesbian. I wrote an answer. I made a list of guy stereotypes then put as many as I could in one song. It helped that I grew up with three brothers. The song worried me at first ‘cause really, there are some wonderful men in this world who don’t fit the stereotypes. So I played it for my friend Ted who looked at me open mouthed and said, Jamie, it’s a funny song and I don’t think anyone’s gonna be upset with it. Turns out he was right except for that one woman who sent me a long email chastising me for wanting to be a man. First of all, if I did, it’s none of your business. Second of all, it’s satire. Look it up. You can hear the song at http://jamieanderson.com/music.html
Back in the day my friend Martie van der Voort wrote a very funny song called “Menstrual Rag” that was a regular part of her show. I thought maybe I should do a menstrual song – hey, it was the 80’s, that’s what feminist-lesbians did then – but I wanted mine to be a dance. I looked in a thesaurus under “dance” and came up with a list … waltz? Samba? Fox-trot? No, no, no. Tango? Hmm, that had a ring to it. I had no idea what a tango might sound like except that it was intense. I found a tango setting on a little Casio keyboard and slapped on some chords and started singing. The words poured out. Venting, really.
Most audiences like the song but I was kicked off a stage in Roanoke, VA once for singing it. (There’s more to that story but I’ll save it for another time.) At a horrible gig at a NY college where almost no one listened to my songs a couple of very tall drag queens dramatically danced to it. At least I was entertained.
I recorded it for my Never Assume album then re-released it for Three Bridges. Recording was a hoot. Lisa Koch produced the album. Any one who could write a song called “You Make My Pants Pound” has got to be a stitch, right? We laughed so much it was a wonder I could make it through all my vocals. That operatic background vocal is Lisa and it still cracks me up, years later.
There’s a live version of “Menstrual Tango” at http://jamieanderson.com/music.html – I’m singing with the fabulous Indianapolis Women’s Chorus.
After some personal research, I’ve written an update, “Menopause Mambo.” You’ll have to come to a show to hear that one.
You can hear the following songs at http://jamieanderson.com/music.html
I wrote “Her Problem Now” after a Bonnie Raitt DVD marathon. Inspired by her bluesy tunes I sat down to write. Not a true story, really, but it’s always fun to sing.
“Beautiful” is based on a true story about a friend who had gastric bypass surgery. I included details of other women I know too. This song gets the biggest reaction of almost anything I do and oh, the stories. I’ve heard everything from “my cousin died after her surgery” to “my life was saved.” A couple of people have misunderstood the song, thinking it was a condemnation of anyone who’s had the surgery; from from it. It’s an affirmation that we are all beautiful.
“Potato Chips” was written just for fun. It got airplay on Good Morning America. The licensing fee paid me enough to buy a new computer. I offered to write them more songs but they suddenly stopped answering my phone calls. “Don’t pick up! It’s that crazy folksinger again!” I also called Frito Lay but apparently, GMA had already talked with them.
Cats really have taken over my world, hence “When Cats Take Over the World.” In my later years I’ll be one of those crazy cat ladies you read about in the news, with 60 cats in a studio apartment. The song was partly inspired by Emily Kaitz’s funny tune about bass players taking over the world.
“A Family of Friends” was co-written with the wonderful Sue Fink. We were looking for a song to serve as a title cut for a compilation of women’s music when she brought this partly done song to me. We were at the Institute for the Musical Arts, sitting at their grand piano, as Sue played this beautiful melody with a few words for a chorus. I helped her flesh out the verse lyrics. We recorded it with a big group of women. The version you hear on my webpage was recorded with a small group of friends for my album Listen. It’s also been performed by a lot of choruses.