Wives and Lovers – Most Sexist Song Ever?

Wives and Lovers” is a 1963 song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. (A commission to write a song for a movie of the same name – Wives and Lovers Movie / Film) It has been recorded by numerous male and female vocalists, instrumentalists and ensembles, most notably by Jack Jones in 1963.
It is also quite possibly the most sexist song I’ve ever heard. Hilariously so. 😀
I was challenged to cover it by a young, married thing named Kim Maskill – who (thank goodness!) never sends her husband off with her hair still in curlers.

The playlist below contains my own “Bad Cover Version” of Wives and Lovers – Burt Bacharach / Hal David (more of which can be found here – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL53daJ6Cc74AcaTCTuM8kjbfa1pGddiao) plus all the other versions of Wives and Lovers that I could find on YouTube.

So why did I want to cover Wives and Lovers by Burt Bacharach / Hal David – if I believe the song to be a tad on the sexist side? I agreed, not merely because it was requested as part of my little ‘Ask me to sing anything’ side project  – (Bad Cover Versions – more on that in a sec) but also because I quite like the idea of being able to perform a song for ironic value, from a different point of view, tongue in cheek, with a sarcastic edge, a new twist or slant. Hopefully I achieved this, and if not, then the gun shot in the head at the end should help along the process maybe? I personally don’t feel in anyway offended by the song since I do not believe it was ever intended to be offensive to anyone; in a weird way, perhaps that even adds to it’s charm??
At any rate, not everyone agrees that the lyrics to Wives and Lovers are sexist…  in fact, there are those that strongly disagree with the very notion of Wives and Lovers being a sexist song.
(What’s that you say? People arguing amongst themselves on YouTube??  No WAY??!)

Indeed. Cries of “what’s wrong with wanting to look nice for your husband!!?” and “this was written back when girls were expected to look nice for their husbands and husbands were expected to treat their wives with class” can be heard.
And it’s not that I would dismiss either of those comments as valueless, but it surely can’t be denied that the undertone of Wives and Lovers strongly suggests that it is a wife’s responsibility to ensure her husband doesn’t stray from his marriage, and in order to do this she must maintain a very high standard of beauty. In the same breath it suggests that “men will always be men”, therefore apparently have no self control, because they ‘aren’t able’ to remain faithful if their wife continues to walk around the house without make up, especially when ‘day after day, there are girls at the office’ who may begin to look more appealing.
So from that point of view, the lyrics of ‘Wives and Lovers‘  don’t exactly dignify men either do they?
Neither do they put across a positive or healthy message of male or female roles within a marriage.
The real punchline of the whole thing is that the narrative of the song sets out to “warn” women of the impending danger of marital infidelity, all the while believing in the so called “soundness” of it’s own advice!

I think Wives and Lovers is what it is. It has it’s place… it’s historic…  it isn’t dangerous, but we can acknowledge it’s flaws and laugh about it afterwards, right?

Wives and Lovers” by Burt Bacharach / Hal David was part of my “Bad Cover Version” requests project. This is something I am currently doing for a bit of fun while I record and hammer away at my album of original music that I began making last year at Red Room Recording Studio. The idea is that, you ask me to sing anything, and I might just do it. I don’t opt in for every request and I recently decided that I would avoid any more note – to – note cover versions. The reason for this is because I don’t really want to cover songs that I would listen to or that are already a staple in the soundtrack of my life, since I do not feel that I can contribute anything to them. Instead, I want to cover songs that are interesting and that I can imagine being able to bring something of myself into, or change – not with the intention of bettering, but with the intent to rehash and to use part of what is already there to make something different out of.

Wives and Lovers – Burt Bacharach / Hal David Lyrics

“Wives And Lovers”
(originally by Jack Jones)

Hey, little girl
Comb your hair, fix your make-up
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because
There’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try any more

For wives should always be lovers, too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you

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

For wives should always be lovers, too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He’s almost here

Hey, little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you’d wear to go to the city
And dim all the lights
Pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love

Oh, time to get ready,
Time to get ready
Time to get ready
For love.

Some people ask why I refer to them as “Bad” Cover Versions. This is in part, a reference to a Pulp song of the same name as much as it is an example of my own self deprecating humour. Also, I wouldn’t object to covering something that might be potentially considered bad, i.e “not good” on a wide, universal. scale. If I felt that I could bring something of myself into it or change the song into something new, then I will most likely take it on.

Here are all my Bad Cover Versions so far: