In Jamaican Patois, "no" is used for various negations: no, not, isn't, don't (thanks, donfreenut).

Hence, Bob Marley's great song No Woman No Cry is not an anthem to bachelordom. It is about a man comforting a woman --that he obviously shared a great deal with-- because he has to leave: "No woman, don't cry".

Without doubt, Rita Marley and the I-Threes understood the lyrics when they performed the backup vocals.

Once upon a time, I was invited to a weekend party, and as usual the hosts asked me to bring along my guitar. It always waits patiently inside its battered case, waiting for the moment the mood is just right, all of last week's rumours are spent on eagerly listening ears and cognac, beers, vodkas and white wines have settled in the attendants lower limbs. When the speaking and the smiling has become a tad slurry, that's when it usually happens.

I fumble around in my pockets for any one of the many red Sharkfin picks which will help accelerate the assembly through to the next party phase; sing-alongs. From the black case which was brand spanking new in 1983 I produce my trusty Fender Newporter which was brand spanking new in 1982. It cost me the equivalent of €250 back then. I changed oil at my uncle's gas station for months and months and months to pay for it. It's been on the radio, a couple of demo tapes and on and off stage more times than I care to remember. It sounds better than ever.

But I digress. I was talking about sing-alongs, wasn't I? We don't do campfire songs. We do 70's, 80's and 90's rock music and the occasional Beatles tune. I'm happy with that.

One particular night, there was a grumpy figure sitting in a corner nursing a glass of undoubtedly body temperature Liebfraumilch white wine. This girl seemed to be lost and unhappy beyond rescue, naturally appealing to my alcohol fueled "all is not lost!" mood.

Browsing back and forth in my repertoire, "No Woman No Cry" stood out, complete with flashing lights and ear shattering alarm clocks.

Striking the familiar C-Em-Am-F pattern, introducing a white man's one-man-band attempt at reggae to other white people, rasping "No Woman No Cry...", the aforementioned glass of white wine's contents promptly landed in my face.

"You can't sing that song! It is sexist!"


"It's a stupid song! Like you have a good time when there's no women around? It's sexist I tell you!"

That is one of the more interesting interpretations of any Bob Marley song I ever got. Apparently, she hadn't actually read the lyrics, only done some rudimentary analysis based on the song title. Whatever you read can mean anything you want, especially if your opinion is sufficiently skewed when you start. What's that about "open minds" again?

I had random thoughts on the devil and the Bible, but us XY chromosome people aren't very good at philosophery being under the influence while simultaneously singing and playing the guitar.

So, after clearing up that tiny little misunderstanding (and succesfully hunting down a clean shirt), we got back to singing Bob Marley's song about comforting crying women.

The girl? She retreated even longer back into the corner. I think I saw her singing along to Twist and Shout a bit later on.

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