Tenders of Affection

The song below started as a rather longer poem I wrote (like so many other young men, to try to win over a girl) around 1992. The poem is obviously an exercise in wordplay, and as with the later “Bastard’s Tale”, I took my inspiration from Shakespeare. (Ophelia’s claim that Hamlet “hath made many tenders / Of his affection to me” prompts her father, Polonius, to dress her down by applying a succession of alternate meanings of the word “tender”. Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3.) Clearly, I wasn’t so much emotionally invested in the girl as trying to show off. No dice.

When I joined my friend Arie Moller and bassist Juan Araya in 2000, in the band we would ultimately name Spiny Norman (not realizing there were half a dozen other bands out there with the name), I wanted to contribute a song to the roster. So I took an overly-clever poem I’d written (like so many other young men, to try to win over a girl) some five years earlier, and gave it a tune with a James Taylor sort of feel, which matched the folk-rock sensibility that Arie initially approached the band with.

After some feedback from Arie about how the song dragged from the endless puns and variations on the word “tender” in every single line, I cut several stanzas to make it more passable. Below is what I consider the best lyrics for the song, though it isn’t the version we played or recorded.


Tenders of Affection  © 2001 music and lyrics by Eric Schrager

The postman who has tendered this (my letter) to your door
Is but a tender, passing sea-bound goods from shore to shore;
He nothing knows what I intend, and not a soul knows more…
He nothing knows what I intend, and not a soul knows more.

What do I tender to you now? – The news that I resign,
Because my tender heart would bleed if you would not be mine?
No, I’m sure you’ll do it tenderly, if still you must decline…
I’m sure you’ll do it tenderly, if still you must decline.

And so I’ll try t’endure the pain if you refuse me still.
I know I tend to ramble, but indulge me if you will;
To what I say attend awhile, before my hopes you kill….
To what I say attend awhile, before my hopes you kill.

I know that there’s some risk about the tender that I make;
Affection’s not some legal tender, just to give and take;
And such a trust is not a light thing t’enter or to break…
No, such a trust is not a light thing t’enter or to break.

Yet I contend that what you’d gain would more than meet the cost.
If I’d a girl, I’d tend her wants, and never she’d be crossed;
No tender kept behind my train, to just be led and bossed…
No tender kept behind my train, to just be led and bossed.

Now I don’t mean t’interfere if you want to be free,
But I’m done pretending I don’t care, and hiding what I see.
I just want you t’understand how much you mean to me…
I just want you t’understand how much you mean to me…

This is a tender moment – if I overspeak, you’ll fly.
T’end here would be wisest, so a postscript I’ll supply:
I hope that you won’t wait too long to tender your reply…
I hope that you won’t wait too long…to tender your reply.


Creative Commons License
Tenders of Affection by Eric Schrager is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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