I Want You To Like Me [Poem]

AP Photo/Rob Burns


I’ve been a singer and musician for most of my life. My biggest influences have always been black singers, and as a white musician who never wanted to sound white, I’ve always struggled with feeling like a phony.

This is a poem I imagine myself speaking to a primarily black audience, because as a performer those are the environments I feel most alive in — but also the environments that are the hardest for me to feel a part of.

This is my attempt to be radically honest and say what’s true for me.

I Want You To Like Me

I want you to like me,
That’s really what’s true.
I’ve tried my whole life,
To be more like you.

I know it sounds silly,
To speak of my plight,
Or lament at the struggle,
Of a straight man who’s white.

Ever since I was younger,
The songs I would play,
Were from Earth Wind and Fire,
Or my man Marvin Gaye.

If you want me to dance,
Or see me get down,
Don’t give me house music,
Just play some James Brown.

My hero is Prince,
Can I get an a-men?
And please don’t ask me
To play Jack Johnson again.

I just want to sang,
Spelled with an a, not an “i”.
But I’m still afraid,
Of being seen as “that guy”.

You know what I mean,
The white guy who acts black.
I secretly judge him,
How ironic is that?

Groucho Marx said it best,
So his words I remember.
“I would never join a club
that would have me as a member.”

Aw shit, that’s some truth,
I guess it’s plain to see
That the people I judge
Are the people like me.

So that’s why I’m here,
To just take a chance.
And make funkier friends,
Who know how to dance.

I want you to like me,
That’s really what’s true.
Cause it means a lot more,
When it’s coming from you.

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