Premiere: Gender Roles & Psychedelic Soirées in Joe McKee’s “I Want to Be Your Wife”

Joe McKee © Ami Sioux
Joe McKee © Ami Sioux
Singer/songwriter Joe McKee observes, critiques, and reflects on gender roles in his new single “I Want to Be Your Wife,” a dreamily cool psychedelic soirée.

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And with every waking kiss I’m in matrimonial bliss…

If Joe McKee really is an Australian alien, then he has an impressively intimate understanding of human history, societal norms, heritage, and culture. The singer/songwriter observes, critiques, and reflects on gender roles in his new single “I Want to Be Your Wife,” a dreamily cool psychedelic soirée.

I’ll sleep in the bed that I’ve made
Conform to role I’ve been given
So shape me and mold me like clay
And everyday you’ll awake to my face
Listen: “I Want to Be Your Wife” – Joe McKee
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I Want To Be Your Wife - Joe McKee
I Want To Be Your Wife – Joe McKee

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “I Want to Be Your Wife,” the latest single off Joe McKee’s upcoming album, An Australian Alien (out 9/14/2018 via Baby Race Records). Born in England, raised in Australia and now based in Los Angeles, Joe McKee is a little bit of a lot of things – including a worldly traveler, a new father, a loyal friend, a careful observer, and a studious thinker. “I Want to Be Your Wife” finds the artist attacking traditional structures with grace and candor, reversing roles as he adopts the female point-of-view in his narrative:

I’ll fill you with bacon and eggs
Force feed you warm custard and cake
Until you’ve all but doubled in weight
For fifty years and them I’ll disappear
Into thin air

“I Want to Be Your Wife” provokes us to think about how our (largely Western) cultures and traditions have impact the experience of being a wife and mother in society. It’s “sung from the perspective of a woman in a relationship stifled by patriarchy, domestic violence and the trappings of a traditional marriage,” Joe McKee tells Atwood Magazine. “The whole song is a facetious look at a marriage… Of which, I’d found myself in. I married the mother of my child, in order to remain in the country, to be a father. The expectations of being a husband/wife were enormously difficult on both of us. Especially because we barely knew each other. I flipped the perspective, and sang from the females point of view because i had taken on the “traditional” woman’s role, as the stay at home parent.”

Joe McKee © Ami Sioux
Joe McKee © Ami Sioux
When your shoulder is cold
I’ll fall asleep with my face to the wall
Who said silence was gold
Give me permission to speak
Forgive me for being so bleak
But smother me under the sheets
Some truth for a smack on the cheek
And with every waking kiss I’m in matrimonial bliss

The song takes on new life once we understand Joe McKee’s personal relationship to marriage, paternity, and so forth. Still, there’s no denying the songwriter’s viceral stance on marriage: “I Want to Be Your Wife” is a dark song, its bright and colorful sounds purposefully contrasting with its ominous, depressed message. McKee sings softly, his intimate inflections as devoid of emotion as possible to make him feel almost un-human. His resulting dreamy performance is a powerful reflection on the effects of the inherent sexism in our society’s traditional structures that persist to this day.

Perhaps if every man opened his eyes as wide as Joe McKee has, we’d be in a better place as a species. For now, we have the Australian Alien at our side and in our ears to guide us, show us our flaws, and help us improve ourselves. Joe McKee’s album An Australian Alien is out everywhere September 14, 2018!

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An Australian Alien - Joe McKee

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? © Ami Sioux
album art © Rick Milovanovic

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