YMCA lyrics “not specific to gays”

YMCA Village People

Village People. Photo: Mario Casciano

Against the backdrop of Russia’s anti-gay laws, someone had the fun idea of asking lyricist and Village People lead singer Victor Willis if the song “YMCA” could be played at the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia as a protest. His reply might come as a surprise to many people.

Speaking to WENN, he said ”If they want to use the song that way, go right ahead, but I think it’s silly because the lyrics were written by me as an expression of urban youths having fun at the YMCA. The words were crafted by me to be taken any number of ways but not specific to gays. It’s much broader than that. The song is universal.”

This might be news to the two other writers of the song, Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo, who detailed the origins of the song in a documentary. Morali, who was gay, put together the group after visiting the clubs of Greenwich Village. The tongue in cheek lyrics were added by Willis on a musical idea by Morali.

It must be said that the idea that “YMCA” is not a gay song is a little undermined by its inclusion on an album called “Cruisin'” and other songs in their repertoire such as “Sodom & Gomorrah”, “My Roommate” and “Macho Man”. It seems odd that Willis is trying to rewrite history in this way when the gayness of the track is such a large part of the song’s appeal.

What do you think?


5 comments to “YMCA lyrics “not specific to gays””
5 comments to “YMCA lyrics “not specific to gays””
  1. You’re mixing apples with oranges. He wrote the lyrics so he ought to know. Morali wrote the music (music are not words) and Willis wrote the words about what straight people knew about the YMCA not whay gays secretly did there. I guest the YMCA organization is gay too, eh?

  2. Hi Shelly.

    I know what you are saying, but the whole group was Morali and Belolo having fun with gay clichés. I think it’s very, very unlikely that Willis was not aware of this. You only have to look at the other titles referenced – such as “Macho Man” – to see their collective tongue was very firmly in their cheek. It was a huge part of the fun. Believe me, you don’t write a song like “YMCA” with partners like that by mistake.

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