My life changed substantially on 12 January 1995. Had I found God/Marx/Picasso? Finally come to terms with my deviant sexuality? Decided to give away all my worldly possessions and devote my life to the common good? nope, not quite. 12/01/95* was when I got a brand spanking new copy of Master Wel When I Was A Sperm 12″ through the post. When I look back on my life now I simply split it into two eras, pre-sperm and post-sperm.
Now, as one of the foremost minds of my generation I have noticed that there is one thing which brings us all together, regardless of skin colour, religion, gender, nationality, sexual preference, sports team, income bracket, intelligence, or ability. Whether we are yurt-dwelling Mongolian nomads, or indigenous forest-dwelling dog-headed pygmy tribes from Congrovia**, or sophisticated men-about-town international playboy types from Wales with their finger on the zeitgeist, we are essentially all united in one single respect. None of us want to think about our parents getting it on. True dat. I mean … yuk! My wife and I can clear our kids out of any given room at any time simply by puckering up and making kissy noises at each other. I call this fact 1537’s Third Law.
Not that this universal constant is sufficient to constrain Master Wel’s muse, like a wackily-costumed super villain refugee from the-land-that-decorum-forgot toting a jury-rigged death ray he leaps into the fray and headlong into confronting this taboo, entirely unconstrained by all considerations of taste. In fact Wel takes us back before the moment of conception in When I Was a Sperm. In fact let me print a truncated, version of all the lyrics:
When I was a sperm I had a lot to learn but the one thing I knew was I could not remain
In my environment, the predicament hectic, I had to get out quick through my daddy’s
You know the term, but do I have to say it, time to get out ’cause he’s about to spray it
I had to swim through the gym and the pool is crowded but I wouldn’t stop, you think I did
About a million and one other brothers were pursuing me as I swam for the ovaries
I got to find one, got to get with one, just like my dad did before he called me kid
One time resident of the prostate, now I make my home the placenta
Down the road I will wear my Adidas, but for now call me foetus
Oh when I was a sperm I had this crazy dilemma, I had to reach my mother, I had to get up in her
Though I’m not talkin’ about incest or sex ’cause when I think I might do, kill much respect
To my moms and my pops, my brothers and my sisters too, you on the scene
But you don’t know what to do, as your numbers increase do you keep the peace
Yup, we start out in this song, as in life, in our father’s prostate … eek. It’s the line about ‘getting up in’ his mom that makes me freak. I really don’t want to think about my mother’s birth canal, I’m sure the same goes for you too. I’m happy it all happened and stuff, otherwise you would all have been deprived of my wit and wisdom, but that’s as much thought as I want to give it. Not so Master Wel.
Actually I do really like this track. It’s bouncy and fun, or at least it is in the Norman ‘Fat Boy Slim’ Cook radio remix, the original and other versions are slower, jazzier and just not very good at all. I particularly like the bit where he gets a female rapper to rap out the line ‘When I was an egg, I didn’t have to beg’^. Master Wel also nets big 1537 bonus points for rhyming ‘Adidas‘ and ‘foetus‘, not even Dylan in his prime, umm, pulled that one off. The song later turns into a plea for responsible use of birth control, but I deliberately missed that bit out because it isn’t funny.
Now who was Master Wel? well, he was Weldon Irvine, keyboardist and bandleader for Nina Simone in the mid-60’s, he wrote the lyrics of ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’ no less, before moving on to work with all manner of other jazz notables. Sadly, he committed suicide in 2002 at the age of 59. So for now hit Spotify below and have some fun with him.
*I don’t want to cause an international incident here, but that’s the right way round!
**Note to self: check facts before publishing.
^which I’m guessing is biologically correct.