Ten Reasons Why I’ll Never Be Able to Get Into R&B Slow Jams

Ten Reasons Why I’ll Never Be Able to Get Into R&B Slow Jams


I’m too impatient. A good R&B slow jam is all about having patience and letting the magic wash over you. Probably they are best appreciated by people who have the ability to keep a container of ice cream in the freezer for more than 20 minutes without eating it.

I’m too insecure. You can’t half-ass a slow jam, whether as a singer or a listener. You have to step up to the plate and commit. When the strings are surging, you can’t start double-guessing whether or not your falsetto sounds sexy.

• I can’t sing. If you try to sing along to a fast song, when you miss a note it’s over so quickly that people might not even notice. If you miss a note when singing a slow jam, it’s several seconds of agony.

Slow jams are about the music, not the lyrics. You can’t overthink a slow jam: you just let the vowel sounds do the talking. My favorite parts of slow jams are the spoken-word interludes, which are kind of like little blog posts.

They were big in the 90s, which was not a stellar decade for me. Lauryn Hill probably brings back great memories for you, but for me she brings back memories of getting a ride home from school in the neighbors’ car, looking down past my grey Farrah school-uniform slacks and watching the road through a hole in the floor of the car.

I’m not seductive. If I ever have the hots for you, you’ll be able to tell because I’ll get nervous and talk a lot, not because I’ll slip into a set of satin pajamas and nibble at your ear.

• My name isn’t cool enough. “Jay Gabler” is perfectly fine, but it’s no “Luther Vandross,” that’s for damn sure. Even “Peabo Bryson” is cooler.

I don’t have enough candles. Just one, actually—and it’s scented Cinammon Stick, which makes you think of playing Scrabble with Aunt Nonie, not soaking sexily in a bubble bath.

I don’t wear the right clothes. Can you imagine Anita Baker stepping on stage in an L.L. Bean fleece?

I’m white. Obviously being white is not a categorical disqualifier for being a talented purveyor or appreciative listener of R&B slow jams, but there’s a reason no one really wants or needs to answer Michael Bolton’s musical question “Can I Touch You…There?”

Jay Gabler

Photo by Carolyn Kopecky