For all that rock ‘n’ roll is full of songs that involve large, hirsute males boasting about their sexual prowess and remarkable ability to metabolize alcohol, rock songs that actually examine what it means to be a man are very few and far between. This, of course, is hardly surprising — men have never been encouraged to express their feelings, and even in our enlightened post-feminist world where everyone is supposed to be in touch with their emotions, there’s still a pretty substantial societal pressure on men to be strong and silent and emotionally inscrutable. Happily, here at Flavorpill, we don’t buy into gender-related bullshit of any description, so here are ten of our favorite songs about masculinity. We’d love to hear yours.
Joe Jackson — “Real Men”
In Flavorpill’s considered opinion, this remains the single best song that anyone’s ever written about the experience of being male in the late 20th and/or early 21st centuries — or the best one that we’ve heard yet, anyway. In six concise, often sardonic verses, Jackson’s lyric manages to cover a whole gamut of conflicted masculinity: the changing role of men in society, the experience of being unsure about your sexuality, confusion as to how to relate to both women and your own peers, the tyranny of conventional gender roles, and plenty more. It’s a great, beautiful, poignant song.