Mon | Jul 16, 2018

As a man: It's a pity

Published:Sunday | April 24, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke

When Gem Myers performs One Man Girl (the chorus of which goes "I'm a one man girl, a huh/I'm a one man woman") the climax of crowd participation is when the band does a mix and she sings "hol' up yu han' if yu a one man woman/wave yu han if yu have one man".

It is always a crowd-pleasing section of Myers' standout performances. So much so that invariably she has cause to stop, chuckle and point out that a man or two in the audience is singing happily along and waving their hand. There is always a hearty laugh all around.

I have seen Tanya Stephens perform a few times and It's a Pity, is as much a hit live as it is on record. It is on her Gangsta Blues album, an excellent set which includes Boom Wuk, Tek Him Back, and Way Back. With the horn line and tough bass to complement superb lyrics on a topic that is always relevant to our society of fluid relationships, I am prone to breaking out into the song spontaneously.



In public, I always stop myself at "it's a pity", before going on to "you already have a wife/an me done have a one man inna me life." In private, I sing it all out to my heart's delight. It really is a pity that I don't have the guts to sing a song that I really like in public, because of social conventions.

I am not alone. It is par for the course to hear people change around the lyrics of gender-specific romance songs. But to trammel with the lyrics of a Tanya Stephens song is musical sacrilege in the first place, then it would be rather silly if I walked around singing:

"It's a pity

You already have a husband

And we done have a one woman

Rude girl, it is such a pity"

So I continue to cut the tune short in public and sing the rest in my head, murmur it in full at home, then tun up tune and voice in the car when I am alone. As a man, I guess that makes me a coward but I'm cool with that.