I'm calling these songs Cross-Vocals, and they were, for example, intended to be sung by a woman but are instead sung by a man, keeping the pronouns intact. They sound pretty gay now, but are only gay in hindsight. In the late 20's and early 30's music publishers had a stranglehold on the rights to their catalogs. Singers could not change a word, period, so it was not uncommon for a man to seemingly sing a song to a man, or a woman to a woman. The public knew of the restrictions on singers and did not really pay attention to any gay connotations. But we do, and in retrospect, they are quite fun. So let's start off with one of the singing giants of the past, Bing Crosby, and lyrics you would just not expect. As vocalist for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1928 he's bringing us a classic, called "Ain't No Sweet Man Worth the Salt of My Tears."
Crosby w/Paul Whiteman Orch - Ain't No Sweet Man Worth the Salt of
My Tears (1928)
And that was another Bing Crosby song, a lesser known one called "From Monday On," also with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and also from 1928.
Next is one of my favorite songs, the classic by the Gershwins, "The Man I Love." It's been sung by many, many singers and is an American standard, and I remember emoting to it as a young gay boy, before I had really processed that I was a young gay boy. And of course then I wasn't aware of any male versions, and there are a number now to pick from. I like this one by the UK duo Layton & Johnstone, and I'm playing two by them, both from 1928.
neither song I played is on this collection,
& Johnstone - The Man I Love (1928)
"Can't Help Lovin' That Man" was written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II and comes from the musical "Show Boat." And after that the vocalist was Sam Brown singing in front of Jack Hylton & His Orchestra, in 1929, telling us "I Must Have That Man."
Here's a military-themed song, and we're sticking with Jack Hylton & His Orchestra, this time with George Baker on vocals. "There's Something About a Soldier."
Baker - There's Something About a Soldier (1933)
Did you notice on those last two how the about the first minute of the songs were instrumental, with vocals only coming in after it really got started. That was a common style of music in those days and you'll be hearing that a lot in this show. It's really a different approach than we're used to now, but remember a lot of these acts were from the jazz band era and the emphasis was on dancing.
Second in that set was Danny Yates & His Orchestra with "He's My Secret Passion" and then I played the Flamingo Melodians doing "He's My Kind of Man," both from 1930.
For the most part the music I've collected over the years of this so-called genre has been of the male on male variety, but harder to find have been those by women, but I do have some gal on gal ones, starting with Ruth Etting. From 1927 she gives us "It All Belongs to Me."
Etting - It All Belongs to Me (1927)
From 1933 the Viennese Seven Singing Sisters gave us "My Marguerita" and that was Dolly Dawn & Her Dawn Patrol doing "Copper Colored Gal." Dolly was only 17 when she recorded that in 1936. And here's a couple by the Golden Gate Orchestra, beginning with 1929 and "The Right Kind of Man," and then they'll sing one called "What a Man," from 1926.
Gate Orchestra - The Right Kind of Man (1929)
After the Golden Gate Orchestra was one from 1928. It was the Ted Weems Orchestra and "Tall Dark and Handsome."
Coming up is a favorite of mine and a classic song. It's "Am I Blue" and this time it's from 1929 and done by the Travelers, and it features Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey.
Travelers - Am I Blue (1929)
That was Maurice Elwin & His Rhythmic Eight, from 1928, doing "Why Do I Love You?"
This is JD Doyle and closing the first hour this month is one with a rather playful arrangement. It's from 1939 and the Hoosier Hot Shots tell us "I'm Just Wild About Harry."
Hoosier Hot Shots - I'm Just Wild About Harry (1939)
And that was the same artist who started off Part 1, Bing Crosby, doing a song from 1929 with a now amusing title, "Gay Love." This is JD Doyle and welcome back to my show on songs that in retrospect are very gay. And also from 1929 is a song that many a gay man can relate to.
Cherwin & His Orchestra - He's a Good Man to Have Around (1929)
"He's a Good Man to Have Around" started off that set, as done in 1929 by Dick Cherwin & His Orchestra. Then a bit more upbeat, Benny Krueger's Orchestra told us about "Charley My Boy." Finally, Cyril Grantham sang "Far Away in Shanty Town."
These next two tracks are respectively from 1924 and 1933 and are by a very popular artist, and you may not have heard these songs but you should know the voice. See if you can figure out from where.
Edwards - Insufficient Sweetie (1924)
Did you recognize the voice? That was Cliff Edwards and his biggest claim to fame was in 1940 as the voice of Jiminy Cricket, from the Disney movie "Pinocchio." And the classic song from the film was "When You Wish Upon a Star." In the second song you heard by him, think Mae West, as "Come Up and See Me Sometime" was her most famous line.
Here's a very popular group, the Boswell Sisters, and the song starts off a bit slow and then really picks up the beat. From 1931 it's "When I Take My Sugar to Tea."
Sisters - When I Take My Sugar To Tea (1931)
Three more female acts in that set. After the Boswell Sisters was one of the oldest songs on this show. From 1924 by another sister act, the Brox Sisters, and they told us about their "Red Hot Mama. Then the cabaret singer Hildegarde sang "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody." That was from 1936 and last, from 1925, "If You Knew Susie" was by one of the most famous male impersonators of the UK, Ella Shields.
Here's one more female singer, and this song was a huge hit for her. Gracie Fields recorded "Sally" in 1931 and it became her signature song. Here's "Sally."
Gracie Fields - Sally (1931)
Now this next song does not have same-sex lyrics but you'll see why I couldn't resist it. It's by a UK artist, from 1935, and she was very much known for this song. It's Tessie O'Shea and "No One Loves a Fairy When She's Forty." And, if anyone knows of a male recording of this song, please let me know. I'd love to have it.
O'Shea - No One Loves a Fairy When She's Forty (1935)
Now, that last song is more known as by Helen Kane, and was quite a campy song done by her, but I chose an even campier version, from 1928 by the Broadway Bellhops. They sang "He's So Unusual." Two wistful songs coming up, starting with the Clevelanders in 1930, wishing to be a bride, and singing about "In My Little Hope Chest."
- In My Little Hope Chest (1930)
"Beach Boy, the memories of your kisses are burning, burning, burning." So sang Bob Lawrence in 1933, with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. But there were four songs in that set, and the second was another by Bing Crosby, also with Paul Whiteman, and in 1928 they recorded "Evening Star Help Me Find My Man." And after that Frankie Trumbauer & Orchestra gave us "What I Wouldn't Do," from 1929.
Leo Reisman & His Orchestra - Can't We Be Friends (1929)
That song was "Can't We Be Friends," from 1929, and like many of the songs you just heard, I had a couple of choices of whose version to play. I picked the one by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra.
This is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage and I thank you for joining me for this accidentally gay trip to the 1920s and 1930s. I could have done a four-hour show but I think this probably was sufficient. I'm closing with another classic Gershwin song, this time from 1930 and by Smith Ballew with Fred Rich & His Orchestra. "I Got Rhythm, I got music, I got my man, who could ask for anything more."
Smith Ballew w/Fred Rich Orch. - I Got Rhythm (1930)
Billy Mayerl & Gwen Farrar - Masculine Women Feminine Men (1926)
Those "Masculine Women & Feminine Men." This is JD Doyle and that song has been a delightful one to cover by many bands and singers over the years. I have about 18 versions of it, with most being from the 1920s. That one was one of the first, from 1926, done by Billy Mayerl and Gwen Farrar. And before I get back to the songs with accidental same-sex lyrics I'm going to slip in a couple favorites that were pretty gay.
First, from 1928 are Douglas Byng and Lance Lister, doing "Cabaret Boys." Douglas Byng was one of the most famous female impersonators of England.
Byng & Lance Lister - Cabaret Boys (1928)
Yes, those were Very gay, and all from the UK. The Durium Dance Band recorded "Let's All Be Fairies" in 1933, and even more outrageous, and perhaps slanderous, Judd Rees gave us "The King's a Queen at Heart." That was in 1934 and he was singing about King Edward the VIII, who had just become King and a couple years later would abdicate his throne.
Here's a couple on the feminine side, starting with Bea Wain singing vocals on this song by Larry Clinton & His Orchestra. It's called "Martha."
Clinton & His Orchestra - Martha (1938)
Adelaide Hall gave us the sultry "Have You Met Miss Jones," from 1939. I just love this next one and it's from 1924. Vincent Lopez and His Hotel Pennsylvania Orchestra tell us about "Me and the Boyfriend."
Lopez & Orchestra - Me and the Boyfriend (1924)
In the middle was Leo Reisman & His Orchestra, who were "Moanin' Low" in 1929, and then from 1935, the classic song "Red Sails in the Sunset," as done by Lew Stone. Perhaps a little cross-generation love coming up, as in 1929 Bert Lown & His Orchestra sang about "Redskin."
Bert Lown & His Orchesra - Redskin (1929)
Now, courtesy of Earl Gresh and His Gangplank Orchestra, from 1925 we'll hear about a prissy queen named Oscar who was terrified of women.
Gresh & His Gangplank Orchestra - Help! (1925)
Four songs in that set. I already told you about the Earl Gresh song, and next was Red McKenzie who in 1927 sang about "My Syncopated Melody Man." Next Jean Goldkette & His Orchestra gave is "I'd Rather Be the Girl," from 1926, and I cheated a bit on that last one. This show is billed for having music from the 1920s and 1930s, and that one was from 1919. "I Ain't Got Time to Have the Blues" was done by the Jack & Irving Kaufman Orchestra.
Davis & His Orchestra - The One That I Love Loves Me (1929)
From 1929, Meyer Davis & His Orchestra told us that "The One That I Love Loves Me." And then, sorry about the static on that last one, these tracks are hard to find in any condition. That one was from the Sam Lanin Orchestra, and also in 1929, they were "Wishing and Waiting for Love."
From 1932 here's Joe Haymes and His Orchestra, and they "Can't Do Without His Love."
Haymes & Orchestra - Can't Do Without His Love (1932)
A word I'm trying to get into my head is penultimate, which means second to last in a series. So Abe Lyman and His Californians just gave us the penultimate song of this show, from 1928 and called "Just Imagine."
This is JD Doyle finishing up three hours of accidentally gay songs from the 1920s and 1930s. I love this kind of music and have been collecting it for years, so I figured I was overdue making a whole show out of it. Hope you enjoyed it. Closing, from 1932 is a famous band, Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians. They recorded one called "Pu-leeze! Mr Hemingway."
Guy Lombardo & Royal Canadians - Pu-leeeze! Mr Hemingway (1932)