“As We Lay” by Shirley Murdock

It has been said that “As We Lay” is about adultery. And whereas the marital status of the vocalist is never verified, she does reveal that the addressee does indeed have a wife who doesn’t know that the two of them have hooked up. Moreover, considering that Shirley claims they “both [she and the addressee] belong to someone else”, it is very possible that she’s wed or in the very least in a committed relationship.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Shirley Murdock's As We Lay at Lyrics.org.

And by the looks of things, she and the addressee didn’t necessarily intend to sleep together. It just sorta happened. But more the point is now that it has, they can’t “turn back the hands of time” as if it hadn’t. So now, they both must now deal with the moral ramifications of their decision.

The further implication is that this bonking is something they either cannot or will not hide from their respective partners. Or in the very least, the vocalist is imagining what would happen if the addressee’s wife found out. So part of the aforementioned moral ramifications would be having to now live with the knowledge that she “hurt” this innocent woman by sleeping with her husband.

And conclusively, well, let’s just say that this definitely isn’t a song that came out in the 2020s.  Nowadays if a pop artist created a piece based on such a subject, it’d probably be along the lines of celebrating their ability to seduce other peoples’ partners. But in the case of “As We Lay, it becomes quite obvious that by the time all is said and done, this vocalist – and seemingly addressee also – is rather stricken with grief.

Did they enjoy the sex? 

All lyrics considered, the answer would be yes. But that, dear reader, is totally beside the point.  So this is a leaped-before-you-looked type of sexual situation and no, not in that YOLO kinda way. This song is rather illustrative of the more realistic notion that sometimes, in the name of busting a nut if you will, we make regrettable choices. In fact “As We Lay” has even been adopted by some fans in the name of espousing sexual discipline in general.

Lyrics to Shirley Murdock's "As We Lay"

Facts about “As We Lay”

This song was originally released by Elektra Records in early 1985, being one of the singles from Shirley Murdock’s first album, which itself is entitled Shirley Murdock!. “As We Lay” is the songstress’s signature piece, i.e. the only song she ever dropped that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100, where it made it onto the list’s top 30. 

And it also peaked at number five on what is now known as Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs listing. In other words, Shirley is more or less a one-hit wonder. However “As We Lay” is considered somewhat of a classic in the African-American community, likely just as much due to its forceful, gospel-reminiscent delivery than the message contained therein. In fact as with many R&B singers, Murdock traces her musical origins back to the church and later in her career did forthrightly embrace gospel music.

To note, Shirley Murdock did not have an official hand in composing this song. Rather it was written by Billy Beck and Larry Troutman (1944-1999) and produced by Larry’s brother, Roger Troutman (1951-1999). 

Readers already familiar with the Troutman brothers know that they served as the core of the old school funk band Zapp. Moreover Roger, being the frontman of the band, was actually the industry figure that put Shirley Murdock on.

Those who already heard of Roger and Larry Troutman also likely know that the latter murdered the former and then took his own life in 1999. And being that Shirley Murdock was close to the group, the way she explained her reaction to the murder-suicide is as if it buttressed her own faith in God or perhaps more accurately resolve to drop gospel music.

As We Lay

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