ROCK SINGERS SING ABOUT INNER ANGST, THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND EVEN WRITE SONGS ABOUT HAIR LOSS.
It’s not up there with loss of love as subject matter for songwriters, but loss of hair has inspired a fair number of interesting songs.
And why not? Popular music is supposed to be about the things that matter to people – and that includes issues related to our appearance.
What’s really surprising is that there aren’t more songs about hair loss especially since many members of the confessional songwriter era that came of age in the 1960s now have personal experience with the subject. The public is used to rock stars singing about inner angst and revealing highly personal details about their love lives but is less accustomed to hearing these same performers honestly singing about the reason they no longer appear onstage without a baseball cap.
Snide songs and hair loss
Many lyrics have the expected snide attitude concerning hair loss. Baldness in these songs is a definite negative – especially when the “baldee” is a woman. In the classic Lightnin’ Hopkins blues song “Bald Headed Woman,” the singer tells his woman he’s “gonna take back, that wig I bought you, Woman…let your doggone head go bald” as punishment for her stepping out on him.
A different song by the same name, popularized in the 1960s in versions by the Who and the Kinks, states that “I don’t want no bald headed woman/It’ll make me mean.” (To be fair, the lyric of this song is fairly vague, and it could be argued that “bald headed woman” refers to a woman living on Bald Headed Mountain.)
Things get somewhat stranger when we move onto the Beach Boys and their 1967 “She’s Goin’ Bald.” The lyrics detail a guy’s reaction to seeing his girl friend losing her hair very rapidly (“I tried to salvage what I could/And threw it in a sack…You’re too late Mama/Ain’t nothin’ upside your head.”) The juxtaposition of the lyrics with typical Beach Boys harmonies, a catchy rhythm, sped-up vocals and a semi-psychedelic section indicate that this is intended more as a “trippy” song than a look at someone who actually is losing hair.
Songs about the inevitable changes that aging brings
Somewhat more encouraging is “Bald Headed Lena,” covered by the Lovin’ Spoonful. It’s not the most tactful song – “Bald headed Lena/Has anybody seen ‘er?/ Cute as she can be/ Got a cue ball head that’s as hard as lead/but she’s alright with me” – but it points out that a woman doesn’t need hair to be attractive.
“I Think I’m Going Bald,” off of Rush’s 1975 “Caress of Steel” album, has the rocking riffs and ultrasonic vocals one associates with the band, but the lyric itself is a rather poignant exploration of aging in which going bald is only the take-off point for the singer’s wistful thoughts (“Seems like only yesterday/We would sit and talk of dreams all night.”)
The promisingly named “The League of Bald-Headed Men” by punk/alt-rock band The Fall isn’t so much about bald men as it is about excoriating certain lifestyles, but the starkly named “Bald” by British hard rockers The Darkness is definitely about the fear many men feel when they encounter hair loss. Despite the singer’s insistence that a “balding pate” is not his fate, it’s clear that he’s whistling in the dark here and is actually quite worried about this eventuality – a feeling to which many men can relate.
Compare that with hip hop artist Tq’s 2000 “One Day,” the chorus of which ends with “Cos we all gonna bald one day,” a clear-eyed acceptance that life brings about changes.
That’s the kind of guy that contemporary blues singer Debbie Davies can get behind, as evidenced by her great 1999 “Bald Headed Baby,” in which with a keen sense of humor she extols the virtues of her main man. (“The top of his head looks like one of my knees…He’s the only man for me.”)
Even more pate-appreciative is alternative folkie Christine Lavin, who has a definite preference for men with a shine on their domes. As she told one interviewer before playing a show in Florida, “At the concert, I’m going to crown the best looking man ‘Mr. Tampa.’ Bald men definitely have an edge.”
Hair loss in song: It’s getting better all the time
That fine ability to truly discern masculine beauty can be found in full force in her delightful “Bald Men,” a song which should buck up any man who’s feeling a little down about the current state of his pate. (“Everyone knows that it’s testosterone/That turns bushy-haired men into a chrome dome…The more that he’s got, the more that he can/Do the things that make the women go ‘Oy!’…You’re not losing hair, you’re gaining face…I love bald-headed men.”)
Electronica artist Gomo has the perfect follow-up to Lavin with his “Proud to Be Bald,” with its simple yet effective chorus “I don’t care about my hair…And if you care about my hair/Maybe you should go somewhere.”
Finally, there’s Wayne Faust’s 2005 anthem “Bald Guys (Are Cool).” Faust is a comic musician, and his piece is guaranteed to produce knowing laughs with observations like “(Bald guys) don’t have to comb their hair/They’re ready all the time,” “Every time I ‘got lucky’ I pulled out a hair” and “It’s a solar panel for my sex machine.”
The above songs represent a good starting point for a musical journey through the hair loss world, but it’s just scratching the surface. So any musicians out there, get your guitar tuned up and start searching for some nifty rhymes for “Alopecia,” “male pattern” and “scalp massage”.