What is 'Real Men' about? Joe Jackson leaves that up to you

Published November 18 2015

While I do spend the majority of my time listening to '80s music, I do try to stay somewhat current on new album releases by '80s artists. One of the better ones I've heard this year is Joe Jackson's Fast Forward that was released just last month.  The new material is reminiscent of his early '80s work on his Night and Day LP and has made me nostalgic for its lost songs like Real Men.

A chameleon of music styles, Jackson's best-selling album came in 1982 when his homage to New York City, Night and Day, produced several Top 40 hits like the classic Steppin' Out and Breaking Us In Two. The third single was Real Men and with its subject matter about gender definition and gay culture it's not a surprise that it did not chart in the U.S.; however it was a Top 10 hit in Australia.

The song pushes the envelope with discussion of the F-word among gays and the video also pushes boundaries with gentlemen getting chummy with each other. Real Men is not so much pro-gay song but more an open-ended song that asks the listener to make their own definition of what makes a real man. As far as Jackson's preference, he has described his sexual preference as "fluid" and was married for two years to his wife, Ruth, during the early '80s.

Jackson's Fast Forward  is a bargain with 70 minutes of music packed into 16 songs, with the CD divided into four equal parts, separating the recordings done and reflecting the personalities of cities of New Orleans, Amsterdam, Berlin and his adopted hometown of New York City.  Official website

(Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)