Wives and Lovers – Jack Jones (1963)

Hey! Lit­tle Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

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
Time to get ready
Time to get ready for love

****

Here we are.  The most sex­ist song of the 1960s.  “Wives and Lovers” by Jack Jones.  It’s prob­a­bly the most obscure song on the list, but I think you will agree that it deserves to be at the top.  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 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 – like a man stand­ing above a woman after he slapped her for not hav­ing din­ner on the table when he came home from a hard day at the office.  And his dul­cet tones – it’s no won­der this song won him a Gram­my for Best Vocal Performance…

The curi­ous thing for me is the style of the song.  Even for the 1960s, this song sounds pret­ty dat­ed, and makes me think of Frank Sina­tra (who, inci­den­tal­ly, also cov­ered this song — as did Dionne War­wickAndy WilliamsElla Fitzger­ald,  among many oth­ers).  It’s like a throw­back to the 1940s, which makes me think there is a trea­sure trove of sex­ist songs from that era that I don’t know about.  Sex­ist songs of the ’40s… now that’s a list I’d like to see!

So, there you have it.  Just a lit­tle reminder, from me to you, that you’ve come a long way, baby!

 

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As a spe­cial bonus for putting up with this list, here is Jack Jones’ poor­ly-con­ceived dis­co ver­sion of “Wives and Lovers” from 1979. Enjoy!

30 Comments

  1. Tech­ni­cal­ly, what might be said to be the “intent” of the advice — to not take your spouse (or part­ner) for grant­ed — is excel­lent advice. The thing is — it is a two way street. What woman wants a guy who doesn’t make an effort? A strong mar­riage requires both spous­es to make a 100% effort in lots of areas. So while keep­ing up in one’s appear­ance is gen­er­al­ly appre­ci­at­ed by one’s spouse, so are being con­sid­er­ate, lis­ten­ing skills, shar­ing inter­ests, shar­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties, and so on. While the song is sex­ist and a sign of how things were, even then a good mar­riage was more than just look­ing good. But it was a sign of the times — I think you missed the biggest affront — call­ing a wife a “lit­tle girl”.

  2. Pingback: Fix Your Makeup | Martha Strawbridge

  3. This song was writ­ten to pro­mote a movie of the same name. It’s apro­pos for the movie. Many women have sung it as well. Per­haps a lit­tle research on the song might have been in order. By the way, the song was writ­ten by Burt Bacarach and Hal David. It’s their song.

    • Thanks for writ­ing in, DG. It appears that you didn’t see my com­ments under the song. I gave Burt Bacarach and Hal David full cred­it (or blame) for the cre­ation of the song. I also point­ed out that it was cov­ered numer­ous times by dif­fer­ent artists (includ­ing women) and pro­vid­ed links to their per­for­mances. I’d like to think that I did a fair amount of research. As for it being part of a movie, I feel that is irrel­e­vant to the fact that it is extreme­ly sexist.

  4. Glad you includ­ed that gaw­daw­ful Wives and Lovers to occu­py the #1 spot. I would have sug­gest­ed that if you hadn’t. Also check out some of the jin­gles from prod­uct ads from the six­ties. The one from Lux soap: A woman’s born to soft­ness and that’s the way it is. A soft and mag­ic crea­ture a man can call his. This one I find espe­cial­ly repulsive.
    ,

  5. This was quite enter­tain­ing. I don’t know why — but I woke up singing this song this morn­ing. My dad used to lis­ten to this song when I was a lit­tle girl. I couldn’t quite remem­ber the lyrics — but I thought, “that sounds so sex­ist.” So nat­u­ral­ly — when I googled the lyrics — I found this site.
    lol
    Thank you for the chuckles.

  6. Kudos for you post­ing. I remem­ber this song as a kid and thought “I don’t want a rela­tion­ship like that!!”

  7. One of the most ridicu­lous and annoy­ing ideas that misog­y­nis­tic men have tried to force into being accept­ed as fact is the bla­tant lie that men were “nev­er meant for monogamy.” It’s that utter and com­plete garbage they’ve been using for ages as an excuse to jus­ti­fy bad behav­ior and to take the blame off of them­selves. “It’s not my fault I screw any­thing that walks upright, I’m just a guy! It’s in my genes to sew my wild oats near and far! That’s how the cave­men did it! I am in no way respon­si­ble for my own actions and you’re just a needy, nag­ging, b!tch if you insist I choose between you or every oth­er bipedal crea­ture. Maybe you need a reminder of where your place is.《SLAP!》Now go get sup­per started.

    • *Oh, and we mustn’t for­get the dou­ble stan­dard. He should be allowed to be with how ever many women he wants with­out con­se­quence or objec­tion, but if she so much as looks at anoth­er man (and even if she didn’t but he is con­vinced she did) she should expect noth­ing short of a beat down. And she mustn’t get upset because she knows she deserved it.
      It’s the whole Madon­na-Whore complex.

  8. This old song went very well with crip­pling stilet­to heels, lots of cleav­age and woman dress­ing almost naked, often in faux bondage. And of course-thanks to the 70’s- women are free from all of these restric­tions today, so we don’t need trou­ble our lit­tle heads any more about this garbage. Oh dear… no, hang on… wait a minute…!

    • As I was read­ing your post I got where you were going and start­ed to chuck­le. I agree, if any­thing, we are pro­mot­ing an even worse sce­nario now! I refer to music videos, lit­tle girls cloth­ing and the fact that peo­ple born in the 30s to 50s are still walk­ing around keep­ing that men­tal­i­ty alive and well along with pass­ing that Nean­derthal atti­tude down to the next generation!

  9. Yeah, but it real­ly swings. Like music from the 60’s, not the 40’s. Great song.

  10. Lis­ten to the hep stars song “sun­ny girl”, writ­ten by ABBAs very own Björn Ulvaeus. “She’s domes­tic, she’s prop­er­ty, she’s sweet like reed”.

  11. what about Under my thumb…

    • Under My Thumb” was on my mind when I made this list, but as I wrote in my intro, “In terms of the music, it helped if the songs were guile­less, earnest, cheer­ful and not at all sexy (which is why the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb” is not on the list).”

  12. In the first “For Bet­ter or Worse” strip, we see the strip’s hero­ine, Elly Pat­ter­son, vac­u­um­ing in a bathrobe and slip­pers. The song Wives and Lovers comes on and Elly smash­es the radio and keeps on vacuuming.

  13. I don’t care who wrote the song.ok When­ev­er I think of Burt Bacharach, from now on I’ll think of pigs. Chau­vin­ist pigs. And I’ll be hun­gry for bacon, but not from him.

  14. Yes the lyrics are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a time. So were many lyrics of the ‘50s -60’s. In the 60’s women felt lib­er­at­ed to be open to sex­u­al­i­ty. “Men will always be men”, Don ‘t be neive, Hal David tossed that in as an inside line. The secret to the hit; a pump­ing brass line w/ a 3/4 to 6/8 jazz beat. You can dance to this tune. Ladies, light­en up.

  15. Your label­ing of Wives and Lovers as “obscure” is very telling.

  16. Your label­ing of Wives and Lovers as “obscure” and “dat­ed” is very telling.

  17. Its a fan­tas­tic song — you women should get back to being women and be a lit­tle bit more appre­cia­tive of your men

    • Tru daht, Waz­zap, such a snazzy tune. And I’ll get right to mak­ing that ham sam­mich for ya — while you pay all my bills, take me out to din­ner and buy me nice clothes & jew­el­ry. :snick­er:

  18. I don’t think any­one real­izes that Wives & Lovers isn’t actu­al­ly being sin­cere. This wasn’t prop­er even back in the 60s. It’s sex­ism was pur­pose­ful and sup­posed to be tak­en tongue in cheek back as it was writ­ten for inclu­sion in a com­e­dy about cheat­ing. Today’s gen­er­a­tion is tak­ing it a bit too seri­ous­ly (from Mad Men) not actu­al­ly under­stand­ing what it was actu­al­ly like back in the 60s. This may seem incred­i­ble to mil­lenials, but back in the 60s, we had big fem­i­nist and racial equal­i­ty move­ments back then too. We weren’t cul­tur­al­ly walk­ing around unaware drag­ging our knuckles.

    • Very good point, julie651. Some­times con­text gets lost as time goes by, espe­cial­ly when one part of a pop-cul­ture piece (in this case, the song) has out­last­ed anoth­er (the movie). And your point about the ‘60s equal­i­ty move­ments should be remem­bered as well. Thanks for writing!

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