The Music of Elizabeth Alexander


An uproarious affirmation of women’s bodies, minds and indomitable spirits

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: Elizabeth Alexander

An uproarious affirmation of the multifarious “handles” which adorn women’s bodies, minds and spirits. This eclectic, good-natured travelogue covers a lot of terrain, including dimples, wrinkles, jiggles, scars, tattoos, braids, and healthy boundaries. If desired, the over-the-top finale includes an opportunity for the chorus to add its own original spoken lyrics. Whooping is encouraged.

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

What a wild ride this song was to write! From the moment I jotted down the first lyric, it kept growing more and more outrageous, eclectic and unabashed, as if it had a mind of its own. For a while it felt like I was trying to hold back a wild horse – until it suddenly hit me that the song itself was essentially about freedom! Well, alright then. I gave it free rein and let it run.

And run it did! I channeled patter songs, melodrama, Dr. Seuss, and Ethel Merman. I let double entendre work double shifts. I knew from the outset that there would be wrinkles, scars and love handles in the song, but before long there were sly references to lovemaking, breastfeeding and #MeToo violations. Yikes!

By the time I reached the finale, I was in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound. Burma-Shave couplets? I took a deep breath and grinned.

Why not?



You say you can’t, just can’t,
Just can’t get a handle on a woman.
You don’t know what she’ll do or say;
Surprises are her natural way, this woman.
Not solely governed by her mind,
Her heart will not be left behind.
And so you tell me that you can’t, just can’t,
Just can’t get a handle on a woman?
But before you give in to outright despair about this
Impossibly hopeless, futile, cataclysmic, and not so very great scenario,
Let me tell you something that you might not know:

There are some handles on this woman.
I got ’em here and here and here.
There are some handles on this woman.
They ain’t about to disappear.
Handles, handles, handles:
Seems I get another every year.

Some of them were made for earrings to dangle on,
Some of them were made for bangles to bangle on,
Some of them were made for tattoos to tangle on,
Twang, twang, twang!
Some of them were made for combing and braiding,
Some of them were made for skipping and wading,
Some of them were made for bodacious bumpin’ –
Every one was made for something!

Wink and wiggle, dance and dandle,
If I jiggle that’s no scandal,
If you need a helpin’ handle,
Call me up; I’ll understandle!

Handles, handles!
I’ve got more than one or two.
Handles, handles!
To sing about them’s not taboo!
Handles, handles, handles:
They will always be right here for you.

Some of them were made for good friends to cry on,
Some of them were made for lovers to lie on,
Some of them were made for babies to latch on,
(Don’t know why you’re being so slow to catch on!)
Some of them are feisty. Some are fizzling.
Some are sweet. Some are sizzling.
All of them are miracles to behold!
Gonna have more when I get old!

Handles, handles!
They’re doubly-dimpled by design.
And if a someone takes advantage,
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
I’ve got a topnotch bottom line.
Make no mistake:
These handles are completely mine all mine!

Firm or floppy, flat or flexed,
I never quite know what they’ll do next.

Unique right down to every fold.
After me, they broke the mold!

Every wrinkle, every scar,
Beautiful is what they are.

So don’t tell me that you can’t get a handle on a woman.

Elizabeth Alexander
© 2018 by Elizabeth Alexander



Premiere: CHARIS, The Saint Louis’ Womens Chorus / Stuart Chapman Hill (Saint Louis, MO)
Sounding Joy / Barbara Hall (Danville, KY)