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Songs About Boys


"The Man" by Aloe Blacc

Stand up now and face the sun | Won't hide my tail or turn and run | It's time to do what must be done | Be a king when kingdom comes

Being the product of a single mom, I am especially sensitive to conversations about how low I place on the hierarchy of Black manhood compared to my cohorts that had both male and female-identified parents within their household. It's something I have thought about for years, and I am totally convinced that if my Dad were to have raised me directly within the same household... I would have still turned out to be a flaming homosexual. The only difference I imagine is that my stock portfolio and 401(k) would be SOLID right about now. In either case, I can tell you that... I know my Dad. I like my Dad. And he digs me. He is the epitome of Black masculine strength, determination, and dignity. Every day I strive to be the man he is. Over the years, I have resented that preoccupation, but I am infinitely grateful for it. My suit will never fit as well as his, but he got me wearing suits... and that counts for something.

SEE ALSO: "Cats In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin



"You Give A Little Love" by Paul Williams from the Bugsy Malone Original Soundtrack

We could have been anything that we wanted to be | Yes, that decision was ours | It's been decided | We're weaker divided | Let friendship double up our powers

My brother and I were best friends as kids. It grew into a bitter hatred as teenagers then as young adults; it's safe to say that we were arch enemies with a mutual disgust that would have had Cain and Able shocked into saying, "you two are doing the MOST!" As we both skid into old age, we have finally gotten to a place where we can be kind to each other. It's not a perfect fraternity, but neither one of us is doing a bid for killing the other, and I appreciate that fact. My brother fancies himself to be a rough and tumble, hardcore, gangsta type dude, which I guess in certain aspects he is, but I was the dude who farted bubbles with him in the bathtub as boys so that hardcore shit only goes so far with me. He'll have to tell you his own story of the decisions he made with his life, but I will just say they were not positive, uplifting, or remotely healthy. I think that's why this SILLY ASS SONG always gets to him. It's a throwback to a simpler time when we watched Bugsy Malone as kids, the possibilities were endless, and we actually COULD have been anything that we wanted to be. We still can... we just got to regulate our blood pressure and cholesterol medication beforehand.

SEE ALSO: "It's Probably Me" by Sting



"Sympathetic Character" by Alanis Morissette

I was afraid you'd hit me if I'd spoken up | I was afraid of your physical strength | I was afraid you'd hit below the belt | I was afraid of your sucker punch | I was afraid of you reducing me | I was afraid of your alcohol breath

I have hesitated to call it rape because of what I know rape to be, but after discussing it with a friend, she uncomfortably whispered, "that's rape." It wasn't the broken bottle against the neck in a back alley with an overpowering stranger a la "Law & Order: SVU"... and it doesn't need to be. It could be, for example, your very first love who you haven't seen in decades. And you are so overcome with emotion with seeing him again that you completely forget that... he's an alcoholic... and a narcissist... and a bit of a sadist. And when you try to consummate the reunion by making love, he instead makes violence, and you go on for years questioning if it's rape because you used to love each other and it wasn't a broken bottle against the neck in a back alley with an overpowering stranger a la "Law & Order: SVU." It was a pretty decent hotel room in Vegas, and you really wanted to see him. But it was rape. And I used to love him. Unfortunately, the two can exist in the same space.



"Another Country" by Innocence Mission

I'm taking these dumb paper lanterns down | Yards, no, miles, they strung along | And me with them | And how was I supposed to know about that?

I actually made an entire mixtape for my husband back when he was alive. We used to listen to it together all the time. This was back when mixtapes were actual 90 minute audiotapes you picked up from Walgreens and recorded songs on your stereo system from 45 RPMs or vinyl albums... or the radio (!!!). That mixtape still exists, and it's now converted into an immense streaming playlist that I peruse every once in a while, adding more and more songs over the years. This is one of the original tunes from a band one of my college cohorts peeped me onto. Me and the hubby could never figure out what the song meant at the time, but we felt it. Even played it once after one of our more explosive wars. I remember we actually cried. We did that a lot. Fought and cried. The song, as I hear, is about immigrants preparing to leave their old country with thoughts of hope, adventure, and terror about the upcoming voyage. Pretty much all of our fights stemmed from the fact he knew he was dying and we were both in awe of the thoughts of hope, adventure, and terror about his unavoidable, impending, upcoming voyage.

SEE ALSO: "Somewhere" by Caron Wheeler



"You Gotta Believe" by The Pointer Sisters

You got to believe in somethin' | Why not believe in me?

For better or worse, the last relationship I had was the absolute most intense, with its demise coming in a close second on the Richter scale for trauma in my life. His name has been coming up a lot lately from random associates. If the question is, did I love him, do I love him, do I miss him, the answer to all three is yes... to what was presented to me. I completely adored being plugged into the matrix with him. When I was unceremoniously unplugged from that dream and looked over and saw I had invested my entire lifeforce into a [INSERT ANY DEMEANING AND INSULTING REFERENCE HERE], I was HORRIFIED. But that's what I do, man... I fall in love really fucking hard! When I'm in it... I'm ALL IN. Even when there are so many red flags. With him, it was atheism. There is nothing wrong with atheism, but I remember asking during one of our notoriously intriguing conversations about spirituality, "Well... do you believe in anything?" I truly was hoping he was going to say something like, "I believe in us. I believe in you." What he actually said was, "No. Nothing." Red flag. Red Flag!



"Voyage to Atlantis" by The Isley Brothers

Can I go on my way without you? | Whoa, how can I know? | If I go on my way without you | Whoa, where would I go

For those who have been keeping track of this blog over the years... you know this is Dean. For those who know me in real life... you know Dean's REAL name and who he is. And yes, after all these years, close to twenty... He's. Still. Around. The love is there, amazingly. Not as intense, but he is one of my most dearest friends. Who knows how it will all eventually manifest itself but, if we look at this from a statistical point of view... neither one of us has been in a relationship with other people in which we were not also intimate with each other at the same time... for close to two decades. I imagine one of us eventually is just gonna go, "let's just cut the shit and be together already!" Well, truthfully, the BOTH of us have said that to each other at one point or another. What I do know is that whether he settles down first, or I settle down first... he's ALWAYS gonna be around one way or another. That's what soulmates do.

SEE ALSO: "Still Crazy After All These Years" by Paul Simon



"The Weekend" by SZA

My man is my man, is your man | Heard that's her man | Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday | I just keep him satisfied through the weekend | You like 9 to 5, I'm the weekend

During the downward slide of my last relationship, which just happened to be a long-distance relationship, we tried to also have an open relationship. During this period, I met a curious gentleman who I will call Brian. Now Brian was in an open marriage, so he totally understood the assignment; "this is sex, good sex, afterward, I'm going home to my spouse, nothing is going to detract from that." Brian was always an avatar. I never had sex with "him"; he was just a substitute for the ex. After I broke up with the ex and I was being intimate with Brian, I remember him actually stopping and asking, "Where were you?" He could tell that connection that held us together was gone. I can only imagine the look on my face or how tight my body was for him to stop and ask something like that. Where was I? I was heartbroken. But eventually, over the years, I did have actual sex with Brian. Sober, eyes open, looking at him, thinking of him while present and having sex with him. And it's damn good. It always has been. It still is. And afterward, he goes home to his lovely spouse, who sends me whiskey every Christmas to this day.

SEE ALSO: "Kiss Me On My Neck" by Erykah Badu



"Werewolf" by Fiona Apple

But we can still support each other | All we gotta do is avoid each other | Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key

The very first relationship I had when I moved to Los Angeles was with an amazingly attractive dude who was way out of my league but he, for some strange reason, really dug me. The relationship didn't last very long, but we remained cordial over the years. Somewhere when Covid-19 was ravaging the world at breakneck speeds, he reached out from his own bunker to see how things were in my bunker, and we reconnected on a level that felt familiar, safe, and daunting. We haven't physically seen each other in years, and I know all too well the pitfalls of "Zoom" relationships, but the coronavirus had unintentionally rendered me celibate as I stayed away from any and all human contact and... did I mention the dude was FYNE. I knew from the offset that we were "playing house" and that once the world stopped being contagious that things would change, but I was just happy playing the role of loving husband for what it's worth, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. But the eventual arguments happened. And as quickly as I was Corona married, I was Corona divorced. And while our demise was predictable, the level of bitterness at the end was a little surprising. I'm not sure if we'll ever talk again. What vaccine can I take to prevent me from going through THAT shit again?

SEE MORE: "Why" by Annie Lennox



"Bigger" by Beyonce

If you feel insignificant, you better think again | Better wake up 'cause you're part of something way bigger | You're part of something way bigger

My brother makes fun of me because I consider everyone in my family born after me to be "babies." Despite the fact many of them are in their mid-thirties at this point, I still very much consider them all to be infants. Particularly my brother's oldest son, who I first got a glimpse of minutes after he was born. Despite the mustache, tattoos, and constant halo of cannabis, I think he and all the rest of them are toddlers. I think it's all window dressing. I only see chubby-cheeked infants thoroughly entertaining themselves by trying to eat their own feet. I remember my other nephew scoffed at the idea because he's "grown." He wasn't even twenty when he said that. I remember thinking; he should feel blessed that despite the sheer amount of sex, drugs, and mischief that he has welcomed into his life that would make Iceberg Slim blush, there is at least one person on this planet that will forever see him as nothing but innocent light... no matter what.

SEE ALSO: "Brown Baby" by Oscar Brown Jr.



"New York" by St. Vincent

New York isn't New York without you, love | So far in a few blocks, to be so low | If I call you from First Avenue | Well you're the only motherfucker in the city who can handle me

Calvin McFadden was one of the first people I met when I moved to Los Angeles, and we became fast friends. Within a year, he moved back home to New York, but our friendship only blossomed. He was a complex man. He was brilliant and fashionable, arrogant and proud, funny and difficult, thoughtful, careless, scared, fearless, sexy... "Evil Diva Robot," I once called him. He was annoyingly obsessed with death, pining on about how if something tragic happened to me, that he would never know. I remember him asking, "Seriously, our families don't know each other; if I died, how would you even find out?" Bothered, I hastily exhaled, "I don't know. I guess I'll find out on Facebook." An answer he was none too pleased to hear. And I was none too pleased to experience when I got on Facebook and found out that he passed away... and could not get in contact with his family. All of my life, I have dreamed of living in New York. When he moved there, the emotional cache of the place only grew exponentially with hopes that once I relocated there, we would hit every bar, drink every cocktail, make fun of everybody, make out with everybody, and laugh so hard that we would pee on the street then make fun of ourselves. But everything has changed now. I have lost a hero. I have lost a friend. And no, New York isn't New York without Calvin McFadden. He was the only motherfucker in the city who could stand me.


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