Singled Out: Lee Aaron’s Tom Boy
March 28, 2016
Multi-platinum Canadian rocker Lee Aaron just released her brand new album “Fire and Gasoline” and to celebrate we asked to tell us the story behind the song “Tom Boy”. Here is the story:
“Tom Boy” was inspired by my ten year old daughter, Angella, who’d asked if I would write a song for her whilst working on material for Fire and Gasoline. In a distracted moment I said yes, I would, and immediately regretted making this promise, because I realized I’d trapped myself. What on earth would I possibly write that wouldn’t be sappy as heck?
I’ve always felt that the best songs write themselves. There is something inherently magical when a song idea arrives in your psyche almost fully formed and gets stuck there. When this happens, I almost feel like I should give writing credit to someone else, some spiritual force, some Bob Dylan in the cosmos. Well, “Tom Boy” was one of those experiences for me.
A few nights later, while getting ready for bed, the chorus and first verse literally landed in my head like a lightning bolt (thank you Lord!). I ran for my phone (I must say that iPhone memo feature has become my best friend) to record the melody and words. Over the next week, while vacationing, I fine tuned the lyrics and wrote the bridge section on my acoustic guitar by the lake. By the end of the week everyone was singing it, ha, ha… so I knew I was on to something.
“Tom Boy” was initially inspired by the free-spirited energy and spitfire attitude that young girls have before they hit their teen years and start becoming self conscious. There’s purity there, idealism about the world and a real love and acceptance of themselves that I adore. They’re in touch with their truest selves and aren’t yet weighed down with the trappings of a photo shopped ‘beauty culture’ that our media foists upon young women. My daughter, of course, is a tom boy and completely comfortable in her own skin. I was a tom boy growing up too (still am actually) so there were a lot of connections for me too. I asked Angella to contribute her own ideas to the song, hence the lines: “don’t girlie, girl me,” “I’d rather shoot and arrow than have a tea party,” and “I’m not into fuchsia…”
The rhythm and changes in the song lent itself really well to fun, precocious word play, so I had a blast writing the lyrics. The geek in me had always wanted to fit ‘quantum physics’ into a song somewhere and finally I had a chance to do it.
The video features Angella on guitar and her school friends as the backing band. I loved the idea of doing a modern emulation of Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock video with school girls. The girls totally rose to the challenge and gave amazing performances brimming with pre-teen, sassy attitude.
Songs often evolve, and it became apparent after a while that “Tom Boy” had taken on a life of its own. The song had a much more universal theme – one of individual empowerment for anyone feeling pressured to conform to a persona that wasn’t authentic for whatever reason: societal, religious or parental pressure. “Tom Boy” is meant to be a positive message to young girls but even more so, it’s a shout out to all of us who want to be loved and accepted for who we really are. I hope that’s the message that really resonates.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself here!
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