The Brandy Backstory

The Brandy Backstory

When I was a little girl my parents were super into music, and one of their favorite genres was 70s soft rock or what’s affectionately now called “Yacht Rock”. It wafted through our home seemingly on a daily basis. It’s no wonder I can belt out the lyrics to any Doobie Brothers or Steely Dan song with the greatest of ease. Anyone who knows me knows that every summer I eagerly await the day (usually in mid-June) when Sirius XM debuts the “Yacht Rock” channel and I can indulge in the guilty pleasure of the smooth sounds of cheesy rock. (Yes, I know that I can just download it anytime, but what’s the fun in that?!).


 A photo of my cousins, my Dad and me (on his lap) in the heyday of the Yacht Rock era.


A Venn diagram to explain the Yacht Rock phenomenon. Because it's baffling.


Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass has always been one of my faves. For those of you unlucky few that aren’t familiar with the song, you can listen to it here and I’ve posted the lyrics at the bottom of this post. The song is extremely catchy. It’s about a barmaid named Brandy who works in a busy seaport town that serves "a hundred ships a day." Lonely sailors flirt with her, but she never entertains them because she pines for one who's long since left her, because he claimed his life, his love, and his lady, was “the sea.”


The fabulously yacht rock-y 1972 album cover of Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass. Beards, smoothness, and all.


I always felt kind of sorry for Brandy. She was in love with a man who loved her back, but it was of no use.  Poor Brandy lost him to the sea, which he apparently loved more than he loved her. But he didn’t die or anything. He wasn’t called away to war. Nope. He just left her and said, you’re super fine and would make a really good wife, but you’ll never compete with my only love, the sea.


While it’s clearly not Yacht Rock season, the other day the song started playing on the radio while I was driving and as per usual, I started singing it out loud with zero irony, embarrassing myself and making my kids chuckle.


But then something happened. I actually really heard the words that were coming out of my mouth for the first time, from a song I’ve heard all my life. And I got really pissed off. Wait a freaking minute! The chorus that repeats several times says that Brandy would make a “fine wife.” But by whose standards and by what qualifications? Is it because she conveniently works her ass off to sling drinks to the sailors, which would make her a “fine wife”? I don’t have daughters, but if my sons chose a girl solely because she would be a “fine wife” I would be sorely disappointed. If my husband described me to his friends and colleagues as a “fine wife” I would pretty much lose my shit.


The lyrics in the song are from the perspective of the sailor and/or sailors who frequent the bar where Brandy works and imply that 1) her qualifications as a wife are determined by these lonely sailors she serves drinks to and a guy that can’t commit and 2) that she is a tragic figure because she will never be granted the privilege of becoming his wife. As if being a “good wife” is the be all end all of Brandy’s hopes and dreams!


This is what we envision Brandy might wear in her off-time.


I’ve decided that Brandy needs a backstory because I think she’s more than just that. Maybe Brandy is working part-time in that bar because she’s studying for her law degree. Maybe Brandy is an incredible writer who has ironically chosen that bar job as a source of inspiration for her books about female empowerment. Maybe Brandy is a yet-undiscovered designer of handbags, and her designs are inspired by that seaside town. Yup, that’s the one!  And maybe she meets an incredibly kind, supportive and eco-friendly fisherman in that seaside town after she forgets about that deadbeat who can't commit. Not only is her new guy easy on the eyes, but he knows that irresponsible disposal of commercial fishnets poses a threat to marine life so he donates his nets to be upcycled into something beautiful.


Presenting The Brandy Collection of handbags inspired by empowered barmaids and harbor towns.


Inspired by this thought, I introduce to you a limited edition capsule collection of handbags and totes called The Brandy Collection by Hamabla.  We created them before even thinking of the song, but it fits so well that we just had to name the collection after Brandy. Handcrafted in Los Angeles of genuine leather and upcycled commercial fisherman nets, each piece is a work of art with a backstory behind it. We made them, but it’s okay if you picture Brandy and her hot, supportive and equal partner fisherman beau making them together.


All joking aside, the impact of artisanal and commercial fishing lasts long after the final boat has moored at day’s end. We are proud to utilize these beautifully upcycled nylon nets in this collection to do our part to minimize ocean waste in our continued support of clean oceans.  Read more about the risk commercial fishing poses to our oceans and marine life here.


The Brandy Shopper as seen on Ella in real life in the harbor town of Marina del Rey.


The Brandy Crossbody in its natural environment. 

The Brandy Sandpail. Our most playful silhouette. You can literally use it to make a sandcastle. But we wouldn't recommend it.


Shop the capsule collection here:


Despite the misogynistic undertones, I continue to love the song Brandy.  It is a remnant from a simpler, less evolved time.  I'm sure the writer meant well in creating a compelling female heroine in Brandy.  But like many things in the past, it just would not fly in this day and age. Let's appreciate it for what it is and be happy society has made huge strides in our views toward women!

xx Joelle

Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass 

There's a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes
And there's a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin' whiskey down
They say, Brandy, fetch another round
She serves them whiskey and wine
The sailors say: "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea"
Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loved
He came on a summer's day
Bringin' gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn't stay
No harbor was his home
The sailors say: "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"

Lyrics:  Elliot Lurie
Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
 xx Joelle