Tuesday, September 6, 2022



The above phrase came up in a conversation a day ago (in an innocent way, I hasten to add), which had me wondering as to its origins.

The following may be of interest, adapted from Wikipedia:

"Wine, women, and song" is an expression that endorses hedonistic lifestyles or behaviours. A more modern form of the idea is often expressed as "sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll", a phrase popularized by British singer Ian Dury in his song of the same title.

The concept dates back to the Romans:
"Baths, wine, and sex corrupt our bodies, but baths, wine, and sex make life worth living."
— epitaph of Tiberius Claudius Secundus,

The following poem by Hafez (1325-1389) mentions similar ideas using four concepts rather than three:
"Two sweethearts,
Two flasks of old wine,
A book of verse
And a cosy corner in the garden."

Sounds a bit like Omar Khayam, eh what? He said in his 1120 Rubaiyat:
A book, a woman, and a flask of wine:
The three make heaven for me; it may be thine
Is some sour place of singing cold and bare —
But then, I never said thy heaven was mine.

Obviously books were more important for poets than song.

The English couplet:
"Who loves not woman, wine, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long"
appears in print as early as 1837, translated from German verse attributed to noted priest, theologian and founder of the Reformation, Martin Luther.

John Addington Symonds used the phrase "Wine, Women and Song" as the title for his 1884 book of translations of medieval Latin students' songs.

The phrase in German is apparently older than in English. Symonds and the anonymous 1837 writer both provide the German text, attributing it to Luther. The attribution to Luther has been questioned, however, and the earliest known reference in German is to a folksong first printed in 1602.

Bartlett's Familiar Quotations cites Johann Heinrich Voss (1751–1826) as a likely source,[5] but any use by him would have to be a later use of the phrase.

The waltz "Wine, Women and Song" (Wein, Weib und Gesang) is by Johann Strauss II.

The lines:
Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein, und deutscher Sang
(German women, German loyalty,
German wine, and German song)
are found in the second verse of Das Lied der Deutschen, the third verse of which is the German national anthem.

AC/DC quotes the motto in the title song of their album, High Voltage (1976):
Stars, bulbs
All around the spotlight
Put the lights out, turn me on
(High voltage rock 'n' roll)
(High voltage rock 'n' roll)
Wine, women and song
(High voltage, high voltage)
Plugged in and turned on, it's sparkin' and
(High voltage rock 'n' roll)

In The Beatles' 1964 film A Hard Day's Night, the phrase is uttered by road manager Norm, in reference to Ringo, who has escaped from the studio to go gallivanting after tiring of being teased by his bandmates: "God knows what you've unleashed on the unsuspecting South. It'll be wine, women, and song all the way with Ringo when he gets the taste for it."

The Bee Gees' song "Wine and Women" starts with the sentence "wine and women and song will only make me sad". It was released as a single in 1965 in Australia and was their first top 20 on the local charts and ever in their career.

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