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The greatest incel anthem ever was written and recorded by Chads

In 1967, these men were considered quite dashing

By David Futrelle

“Here Comes My Baby,” is a deceptively cheerful-sounding song of unrequited love, written by Cat Stevens when he was a teenager. And it has the stink of high school heartbreak all over it. It occurs to me that it might be the ultimate incel anthem.

You may be familiar with Cat Stevens’ own version of the song from the soundtrack of Rushmore — a movie also redolent of teen heartbreak. But the first version of the song was recorded and released by a group called The Tremeloes. And it went something like this:

The song hints at the sadness hiding beneath its perky exterior in the very first lines, as a young man, “in the midnight moonlight [walks] a long and lonely mile.” But it’s the chorus that pulls the rug out from under us, sending us spiraling into pure teenage pathos.

Here comes my baby, here she comes now,
And it comes as no surprise to me, with another guy.

WHAT WHAT WHAT!?

Here comes my baby, here she comes now,
Walking with a love, with a love that’s all so fine,
Never could be mine, no matter how I try.

Now we’re firmly entrenched in incel territory; the bitterness is palpable.

You never walk alone, and you’re forever talking on the phone.

Replace “talking” with “texting” — as Stevens, now Yusuf, apparently does in performance these days — and you’ve got one of every internet misogynist’s favorite complaints about women today.

I’ve tried to call you names, but every time it comes out the same.

Take a trip to incels.co for a long list of suggested names to call women.

The original song had something of a hopeful ending — in which the young protagonist tells himself that in some blessed future time “you’ll be mine to hold each day” — but I kind of like the Tremeloes’ version better, in which the third verse is replaced entirely with whistling. Keeps it more pure, I think.

Here’s Stevens’ recording of the song:

You might have noticed something striking in these videos. Despite the incel-ness of the song itself, the singers don’t exactly fit the stereotype of the incel. The Tremeloes were a handsome bunch, at least by the standards of the day, and Stevens was such a beautiful young man he could have been a male model (the highest state of modern man, according to incels).

Basically, they’re all Chads.

Yet there they are singing what seems to be an incel anthem.

And while the tune itself is mighty catchy, the lyrics themselves seem to have connected to more than a few listeners — enough to make the song a Top Ten hit in the UK and Canada, and an almost-Top-Ten-hit in the US, when it was released in 1967. And people are still listening to it today.

Why? Because you don’t have to be an incel to understand this sort of teenage pathos; we’ve all gone through the maddening, saddening experience of unrequited love (and if you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you). The difference is that most of us don’t turn this teenage pathos into a lifestyle; we ultimately gain a little perspective and move on, and it’s that, not “a few millimeters of bone,” that separate incels from non-incels. We can relate to this song (if perhaps not to its more stalker-ish elements); we just don’t want to crawl up inside it and live there.

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Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

I would think the ultimate album for incels is Pinkerton by Weezer. Most of the songs on there are about various incel themes like anger that the girl you have a crush on is gay and wishing she was straight (“Pink Triangle”), wanting a submissive teenage waifu (“Across the Sea”), or more fetishizing Asian women (“El Scorcho”). Keep in mind that this was all written by a man in his early 20s about his romantic failures.

GAZZA
GAZZA
2 years ago

As Ivanova says, “All love is unrequited”. 🙂

Porkins_Beans
Porkins_Beans
2 years ago

Wait, Pinkerton was serious? Jeez, it’s so obvious the guy’s an obsessive, racist, homophobic stalker I thought it was supposed to be a joke.

I have a bunch of quicklime lying around my garage. If Weezer ever plays another show around here I’m throwing it in Rivers Cuomo’s face.

IseultTheIdle
IseultTheIdle
2 years ago

God, I had such a crush on Cat Stevens/Yusuf back in the day. He’s still a gorgeous man, for that matter.

jsrtheta
jsrtheta
2 years ago

Jeez, 50% of my adolescence was spent in unbearable lust and the other 50% in unrequited love. Frustration was my roommate.

BTW, best version of this song was done by the Jags, on their second (and last) album. One of New Wave’s best.

God, I feel old…

otrame
otrame
2 years ago

He was a beautiful young man, and has aged remarkably well. I was a fan of his music back in the day.

I especially loved Father and Son. The moment when a young man realizes he has to leave if he is going to grow up and the father who desperately wants him to take it slowly, because “there’s so much you have to go through.” It’s beautiful.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

“Here comes MY baby…with another guy”. Note the possessive, when he hasn’t even dated her (or, possibly, even talked to her). Meanwhile, she’s happily with someone else. That’s a disturbingly common theme in pop music.

Another incel anthem: Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him”, where the singer sees couples all around him and fantasizes about murder. (As one does.)

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee
weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee
2 years ago

Not going to lie, I’m disappointed that the band wasn’t actually called The Chads.

Speaking of incels, I’m watching The Stand miniseries* because of course I am, and I haven’t seen it or read the book in a few years. It’s really striking how the most devastating part of the book is nothing supernatural or plague related, but an act of incel terrorism. It’s even clear that Harold, despite being universally disliked in his hometown, had every chance of being accepted in Boulder. His life was turning around.
He chose to stay on the incel path, he chose evil.

I know we’ve discussed Harold Lauder as an incel on this site before, I just thought I’d bring it up again.

* It’s on YouTube if anyone else wants to watch it!

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

We’ve all gone through the maddening, saddening experience of unrequited love (and if you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you).

Right-o. I’m a liar then. Don’t believe anything that I’m about to say.

First, I didn’t fall in love with anyone until my late 20s. In no way could that be called “teenage pathos” except metaphorically, even if I had ever experienced it. Yes, I know, nitpicky, but with that out of the way…

Second, I don’t fall for anyone until after I’ve had sex with them at least a few times (and weren’t a client back when I was a sex worker). I suppose that makes me demiromantic? I should probably look that up to make sure I’m not misusing it. That hasn’t happened so far unless they fell for me first.

So no, I’ve never experienced unrequited love. For that matter, I don’t think most aromantic people have either.

(I know, it was probably a joke, but such a sweeping and certain statement felt a bit disrespectful somehow.)

Snowberry
Snowberry
2 years ago

I realized I should clarify the above: I don’t think it’s the actual act of sex which makes me fall for someone, otherwise I would have fallen for repeat clients. What I meant was by the time we’ve been together long enough for that to have happened at least a few times, then I’ll fall for someone. By that point, it’s pretty likely to be mutual.

galanx
galanx
2 years ago

“Walk Away, Renee” was mine, back in the 60s. The writer was sixteen, and fell in love (unrequitedly, and even unknown on her part) with his bass-players seventeen-year-old girlfriend, who he knew briefly for a few weeks (she moved away, and didn’t know the song was about her).
And, of course, ‘Brown-eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison.

CerulianBivalveIntentionalCommunity
CerulianBivalveIntentionalCommunity
2 years ago

Moving on from feelings of loss is all well and good but I’m skeptical of the concept of “moving on” from the kind of impulses that motivate incels like anger, obsession and misogyny.
“That was a long time ago.”
“I’m a better person now.”
How many times have we heard rapists and other abusers making these kinds of noises?

People need to accept that the worst things they’re capable of are always going to be inside of them. Always, right up until the day they die. If you really want to be a better person you don’t “move on”, you live every day from here on out with awareness of what you truly are and what strictures you need to avoid harming others.

Lifelong self discipline. Eternal vigilance.

Don’t think in terms of ever being “better” than your past self. That way of thinking only leads to smugness and relapse. Instead think of the “you” that comes naturally as a caged animal and the “you” you think you should be as the zookeeper.

Pedro Ivode Souza
Pedro Ivode Souza
2 years ago

Hey man, how are you doing?
I used to visit this blog back when I was in college doing a couple of gender studies classes, I think I’ve known your work for over 7 years now.
I’ve been kinda monitoring the rise of the mans rights thing in my own country (Brazil) and well, these types of goups have been growing for quite some time, and they even elected their champion here, an even dumber version of trump.
What I wanted to ask is how you are doing, are you ok? How do you keep your mind “clean” after engaging with this sort of stuff, I find it rather taxing and troublesome. I also wanted to know if you think that we (however that we may be) are paying enough attention to these movements and seeing that simply pointing out their ridiculousness doesn’t seem to work all that well.
Anyways, keep on fighting the good fight.
With love,

Pedro

Unicorn Rider
Unicorn Rider
2 years ago

I don’t think “is she really going out with him” has the singer fantasizing about murder. He says if looks could kill, the guy would be dead, but that doesn’t mean he actually wants him dead.

What always annoyed me was this line:

“They say that looks don’t count for much
If so, there goes your proof”

Either the couple proves looks don’t count, or it doesn’t. You can’t say it’s only proof if the thing you’re trying to prove is true. If it’s proof, you know the thing is true. Not that any of that is related to incel ideology at all.

Come to think of it, the fact that the other guy is ugly means it’s not an incel anthem, because according to them, ugly men are doomed to be alone forever.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward
2 years ago

Frankly, reading through some of the things that these “incels” say, I can’t help but have some sympathy for them. Back around 1992 I was also a hapless teen nerd who had zero success in love. I’ve never been much good at making friends, even today, nearly thirty years later, RL friendships are few and far between. That today I actually find myself happily married and with a kid still sometimes seems like some kind of fluke. But, remembering the frustrations I had as a teenager I can imagine how much the incel movement of today might have appealed to the teenage me. Back in 1992 though I didn’t have anything to reinforce my foolish misconceptions about the world and specifically about women, so I just soldiered on. Had some thoughts of killing myself a few times as many teens like I had been often do, but fortunately there wasn’t anything out there that could make that harden into actual resolve. As the years passed I could see how false and foolish so many of my old misconceptions had been as I saw more of the world and the people in it. Still took me a damn long time to meet the woman I would eventually marry (I was 25 by then), though, but it ceased to bother me long before then. Turns out that it wasn’t my ugliness (greatly exaggerated, or at least so Mrs. Coward tells me), my nerdy hobbies (anime, RPGs, etc.), that my ass was poor (we struggled a lot for years after we got married) or anything so superficial as that. Turns out what was necessary was to try to understand people more deeply. The minute you let her into your heart then you can start to make it better. So yes, “Hey Jude” seems like the quintessential anti-incel anthem:

GAZZA
GAZZA
2 years ago

That’s not a bad anti-incel anthem, but let’s not let the Beatles off. After all…

Kevin
Kevin
2 years ago

@ AC

Interesting stuff, and a lot resonates with me, including what David has to say. I did have a huge crush on a girl in my middle school class that lasted throughout my teens. My nerdy approach to study and reading didn’t help my social skills to develop either, but incel ideology or anything of that sort would never have appealed.

I’m glad that ate and I found each other, though getting hitched on the edge of an insurgency warzone wouldn’t have crossed my mind either, but her extended family didn’t have the means to attend anywhere else.

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
2 years ago

Aww, I loved that song by the Tremeloes back in the day (when I was 12 years old). I didn’t realize that he’d never dated her; I thought they had broken up. Also, the video of high-spirited young men singing seems to me to be the opposite of incels. That said, yeah, some elements of the song are a little weird. Sometimes it’s better when you don’t understand all the lyrics.

And to echo Galanx and Anonymous Coward, I also loved “Walk Away, Renee,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “Hey Jude.” Fun fact: Although I grew up in Pittsburgh, a socially conservative town where radio was big but not all records got played — for example, “Eve of Destruction” — my local radio station played a version of “Brown-Eyed Girl” that I don’t hear on radio stations in San Francisco. “Makin’ love in the green grass” is still edited out in San Francisco, all these years later.

Prith kDar
Prith kDar
2 years ago

The album Stevens released that song on is full of weirdness. One lyric is “I love my dog as much as I love you,” going on to talk about how the dog will probably be more faithful. Where the third track on the album is “Here Comes My Baby,” the last is “I’m Gonna Get Me a Gun.”

I’ve been demoralized too many times
But now I realize, Ah ah, no more.
I’m gonna get me a gun
I’m gonna get me a gun
And all those people who put me down
You better get ready to run,
Cuz I’m gonna get me a gun

I know my destiny is like the sun
You see the best of me when I have got my gun

So you think you can push me around
And make me run
Well I’m gonna tell you now

So I guess he starts out an incel and ends up as Elliot Rodger. 🙁

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
2 years ago

@Unicorn Rider

I don’t think “is she really going out with him” has the singer fantasizing about murder. He says if looks could kill, the guy would be dead, but that doesn’t mean he actually wants him dead.

Um, that’s literally the definition of fantasizing about murder. You imagine the other person dead, you talk about them being dead, even if you wouldn’t necessarily kill them IRL. It’s what incels do all the time, and then claim they’re “just venting” and “didn’t really mean it”.

Why are you going out of your way to defend this song as Not Really Incel?

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Buttercup

It’s what incels do all the time, and then claim they’re “just venting” and “didn’t really mean it”.

It’s also not only incels who do this, it seems most of the manosphere tries to excuse themselves with this excuse. In our society many people seem to have some idea that venting reduces anger and so we should let people vent. But that’s obviously false, venting does not reduce anger; in my experience it amplifies it. Venting doesn’t reduce anger any more than shouting racial slurs makes someone less racist.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
2 years ago

I was thinking I must be a lying liar (like Snowberry) but now that I think back to my teenage pathos, I guess that bout of “unrequited love” I had back then was both maddening and saddening, like my body and my brain were just failing me by making me react emotionally to someone who was utterly beyond my reach, who had almost nothing in common with me and who I wouldn’t even have wanted to be with*. I felt like if that ever happens again it’ll be too soon, and I’m pretty glad it still hasn’t.

I can only imagine recognition might be like that for those Elfquest elves, except that it’s mutual and you’re kind of forced to act on it I guess? No wonder it always seemed scary to me as a kid.

* To clarify, there was nothing wrong with them as far as I could tell. I was going through a lot and any sort of dating would have been a needless hassle.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward
2 years ago

The thing is, these incels aren’t “venting” in a productive way. Venting, as I understand it, is supposed to let you get awful feelings like those out of your system, but these echo chambers do anything but. When the people listening to you “vent” provide positive feedback for the awful things you say, well, then that doesn’t really get them out of that rut at all, but rather amplifies their hateful misogyny and entitlement. They basically have none of the virtues of venting and at least vices 3, 4, and 6 in spades from this article:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201404/6-virtues-and-6-vices-venting

Yet ventilating, when it’s confined to repetitively self-vindicating messages, can also be self-limiting. And misused in this way (which is all too common) it can link to prematurely, and self-defeatingly, claiming “victimhood” when what’s really called for is actively behaving in ways that could potentially rectify a situation. As such, it can become little more than an excuse for not acting to resolve a problem or confront an issue that requires confrontation.

That is exactly what seems to be happening with the incels.

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
2 years ago

I know we’ve discussed Harold Lauder as an incel on this site before, I just thought I’d bring it up again.

I’ve read the book multiple times since I was 15 (probably one of my favorite King books) and connected with different people every time. I really felt for (and like) Harold starting out. I even understand why he is incapable of seeing any attempts to befriend him as genuine (such thorough self-loathing can really do a number on you). I never rooted for him after he continued his path in Boulder, but I felt for him, and his view on other characters slipped into my own (especially regarding Stu and Frannie). Reading it a couple years later, after starting University and getting some more female friends my perspective shifted dramatically in the other direction (trying to distance myself from previously held views and not wanting to acknowledge I held them). I despised Harold the second time around.

Now it’s more that I wonder if he’d been able to get over his past if he’d met a different group of people, other that his high school crush. Not to put the blame for his issues on Frannie or anything like that. But I imagine it would have been easier for him to adapt if there wasn’t someone who constantly reminded him of who he was in High School.

eataTREE
eataTREE
2 years ago

Mr. Yusuf’s catalog is quite incel-friendly, I think. Check out “Sad Lisa” and “Wild World” for other Cat Stevens tunes that bring the Ew to the gender politics….

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