Recently, certain friends of mine living in a distant land with small children, far away from their regular support network, found themselves wandering around singing Eric Carmen’s song “All By Myself (Don’t wanna be)”. But instead of the “Don’t wanna be” line, they sang “Just wanna be…” instead. And suddenly, by substituting one little word with another, they’re playing my song.
No doubt fueled by the hysteria brought on by doing one too many trips to the toilet with an audience of small children watching, these friends emailed me, pleading me (begging me!) to re-write the whole song to become an Anthem for Parents of Small Children. Unfortunately for them, they asked entirely the wrong person. I am no lyricist by any stretch of the imagination – most of my reworkings of popular music involve the word “Poo-Poo” coupled with the rather baffling (but at least rhyming) “Schmoo-schmoo”. When the kids aren’t within earshot, I also like to slip in the word “Bottom”, which is innocent enough until you start trying to rhyme it with “Scrotum”. As I said, I’m no lyricist.
Anyway, my friends’ request got me thinking about how so many songs take on a new meaning AC (After Children). I can’t listen to Razorlight’s “We’ve been up all night” without thinking of those delightful Gastro evenings where I’ve conducted an exhaustive inventory on the contents of my children’s stomaches. And while Salt’n’Peppa’s classic “Push it” has a whole new meaning post-childbirth, Kellis’s “Milkshake” is a helluva interesting way to advocate breastfeeding (perhaps I could adopt it as the Official Theme Song for those lactating asian babes I like to mention A Lot?). And any song that refers to a lover as “baby boy” is just plain wrong. Ditto goes for “baby girl”, especially when referring to someone’s boyfriend. And of course there’s that fateful day you enter the Parental Advisory Lyrics zone where you suddenly realise the infectious song your three year old son loves to dance to has the words “Don’t want to meet your momma, just want to make you come-ah”. Bring back bottom/scrotum, I say. Or then again, maybe not.
But it is interesting how very few songs there are about child-rearing in the charts these days – though god knows there are more than enough pop stars squeezing out kids. But within minutes of giving birth, these women are betraying the Motherhood by shoe-horning themselves back in their size 0 Vera Wangs and singing all about the Usual Crap (love, money, sex, drugs, shoes, superannuation) as if the baby thing never happened. As if it wasn’t everyone’s natural tendency to stay in their dressing gown for the first five years of their new child’s life and sing songs about Poo-Poo (rhymes with…). Pah!
So I’m donning my Wonder Woman “feminum” bracelets and deflecting that challenge from my far-away friends to write a Parenting Anthem back to those Female Judases (Judithes?) so that they may Make Good with the Mums of the World. Just a few examples off the top of my head: Britney could raise awareness about melamine levels in formula milk by reworking the lyrics of “Toxic” or Christina Aguilera could revise “What a Girl Wants” to be about The Pixie’s growing list of exacting requirements (Christina, see “Not-so-easy Riders” for inspiration). JLo could even turn her most recent single “Hold it don’t drop it” into a maternity hospital teaching song about handling newborns. Or, better still, Gwen Stefani could restyle “The Sweet Escape” so it’s about leaving your children behind with your husband while you go bustin’ a move on a makeshift dance floor in somebody’s garage before it’s even 7pm. Now *there’s* a song I’d like to “Space Invade” to.