Androgynous

Album: Let It Be (1984)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Written by lead singer Paul Westerberg, this tidy ballad tells the story of an androgynous couple, Dick and Jane, who don't adhere to traditional gender norms (Dick "might be a father, but he sure ain't a dad").

    Rockers like Lou Reed and David Bowie released songs questioning gender roles in the '70s, but by the '80s, it's wasn't a hot topic in rock, owing partly to the rise of disco and New Wave, where it was natively accepted. This song stood out with its message that what now seemed aberrant would eventually be normal:

    Kewpie dolls and urine stalls
    Will be laughed at the way you're laughed at now
  • This was included on The Replacements fourth album, Let It Be, which is now hailed as a classic. According to Westerberg, this song wasn't hard to write, but getting the band to accept it was a challenge, since there was no place for Bob Stinson to blast a guitar solo. The album was very successful, but it opened up a schism in the band.
  • Crash Test Dummies included this song on their 1991 debut album The Ghosts That Haunt Me. Their version was released as a single, where it was a minor hit in Canada. Joan Jett covered the song in 2006 on her album Sinner. Videos were made for both of these versions.
  • This song was revived in 2015 after transgenderism became a hot topic, thanks to the transition of Caitlyn Jenner and a proliferation of movies and TV series with transgender characters (The Danish Girl, Transparent). A leading voice in the movement for transgender rights was Laura Jane Grace, who performed this song with Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett at a benefit for The Happy Hippie Foundation, which encourages young people to accept others without judgment.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & FireSongwriter Interviews

The longtime bassist of Earth, Wind & Fire discusses how his band came to do a holiday album, and offers insight into some of the greatest dance/soul tunes of all-time.

Bill Withers

Bill WithersSongwriter Interviews

Soul music legend Bill Withers on how life experience and the company you keep leads to classic songs like "Lean On Me."

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.

Alan Merrill of The Arrows

Alan Merrill of The ArrowsSongwriter Interviews

In her days with The Runaways, Joan Jett saw The Arrows perform "I Love Rock And Roll," which Alan Merrill co-wrote - that story and much more from this glam rock pioneer.

Grateful Dead Characters

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

Ben Kowalewicz of Billy Talent

Ben Kowalewicz of Billy TalentSongwriter Interviews

The frontman for one of Canada's most well-known punk rock bands talks about his Eddie Vedder encounter, Billy Talent's new album, and the importance of rock and roll.