Part 1 - 1970 to 1973
- Lola (1970)
included straight songwriters, inspired by a new subject area, or an
area they were then much more willing to approach. Yes, many of these
songs were novelty songs, or with negative references, and some songs
expressed that there should be acceptance.
Up next, another band from the UK and from 1970. On my 60's show I did a long segment on the gay producers and managers who presented various bands to us. One of this group was Simon Napier-Bell, and the artists he worked with ranged from Dusty Springfield, the Yardbirds, Wham, and many others. In 1970 he produced a band called Fresh, and their album, called "Out of Borstal" was one of the first to be released on a major label, in this case RCA, to have songs dealing lyrically with homosexuality. Borstal is the name the English give to their juvenile prisons, so perhaps that lent itself to the subject matter. From the album I picked the song "And the Boys Lazed on the Verandah." And you'll figure out what they're doing. Here's the band Fresh.
And the Boys Lazed on the Verandah (1970)
early 70's David Bowie was going through his Ziggy Stardust phase, and
he had already declared to the press that he was bisexual, which was
just hype. Anyway, he had recorded the song you just heard, "John,
I'm Only Dancing," which was about a bisexual man dancing with
a woman but telling his jealous male lover that there was nothing to
worry about. "John, I'm only dancing, She turns me on, but I'm
I'm going now to a band you've probably not heard of, and I wouldn't have either if not for my friend Kristian Hoffman sending me this track. It's by the London band Fickle Pickle, which itself was comprised of some of the members of the late 60's band Smoke. Their 1971 album was called "Sinful Skinful," but while the song I'm playing is from those days it showed up only as a bonus track on a recent compilation by them. It's called "Sweet Wilfred, Rodent of Note," which you'll see rhymes with homosexual stoat.
Pickle - Sweet Wilfred, Rodent of Note (1972)
And that short little song was from Todd Rundgren's 1973 album called "A Wizard, A True Star," and he was telling his friend that to be gay "You Don't Have to Camp Around."
This next song is by a totally straight band, the Kit Kats, and I want to give you the background story. They formed in Pennsylvania in 1961 and lasted about ten years, and had fairly decent regional success, putting out a couple albums and a bunch of singles. For what turned out to be their last 45 rpm record, in 1971, band member Karl Hausman wrote the song, and the lyrics were not at all typical with their music, or for that matter, for any band in 1971. Hausman is not gay, so what prompted this? Well, one night he and another band member went to see a performance of the Frisco Follies, a gay male drag revue. He enjoyed the show and at the end was particularly moved by what one of the performers said: "Just remember, ladies and gentlemen: It's not who you love; it's not how you love; it's that you love."
That of course inspired the song, and the more he thought about it the more he felt, well, someone should speak up in defense of gay people, and he did. He had no problem with the dilemma that what if people thought he was gay. He just felt it was something that needed voiced, and the band backed him completely. The Kit Kats and "That You Love."
Kit Kats - That You Love (1971)
Lindsay Marks is the name of this next artist, and he was active in the early 70's in New Zealand, and he's been compared to Cat Stevens, and one of his songs got a reputation for being gay, though he didn't intend that. I know this because years ago a friend sent me a clip of the artist talking about the song. Here's Lindsay Marks and his song "Son of the Sun."
Marks - Comments
Well, "Do You Like Boys?" That was by the UK band Starbuck, from 1973, and it was by the gay songwriting duo Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who I mentioned in my 60's show. Starbuck should not be confused with the Atlanta band who had the hit "Moonlight Feels Right."
And this is a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always considered our music history as a visual as well as an audio experience. Again, that's at www.queermusicheritage.com, Also, for more very queer programming, please listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Friday night/Saturday morning from midnight to 4 am, on KPFT; it's Queer Radio, with attitude.
Up next I've got three black artists. Some of you may remember Jewel Akens, for his huge 1965 hit "The Birds and the Bees." Well, in 1973, long after any recording success, two producers talked him into recording a song for the gay market. I interviewed Jewel Akens last August and he just says, no, he wasn't gay and just went along with it, and didn't hear any more about it. He also didn't know that the producers ran a big ad in The Advocate, which is how I noticed it. For 1973 this is a very gay record: "He's Good For Me."
- He's Good For Me (1973)
After Jewel Akens Harrison Kennedy, of the group Chairmen of the Board, sang "Closet Queen," a fairly advanced song of acceptance. That was from his 1972 album "Hypnotic Music," and then in the 1971 song "Stop the World and Let Me Off," the vocalist for the group Flaming Ember complained about losing his woman to another woman.
My general policy for selecting songs for these shows was not to include cover versions, but I have one I want to mention briefly. It's the old classic "Sally Go Round the Roses," a hit for the Jaynetts in 1963 and recorded by lots of people. I could have just have easily played this song on my 60's show with a version by Mitch Ryder, but this artist, Tim Buckley, in 1973, took it a step further, making the lyrics much more explicit, with his assertion that "The saddest thing in this whole wide world Is to find your baby been laying with another girl."
- Sally Go Round the Roses (1973)
Dr Hook, who finally did make it on the cover of the Rolling Stone, singing about the "Freaker's Ball," 1972. That was a Shel Silverstein song, and I've got one by him in Part 3. And closing that set was an obscure band called Rock's Gang. Their 1973 album "Bring It Back Alive" included one called "Faggo Root Beer," a parody of a commercial by a root beer brand named Faygo.
I've got another strange record to share with you. It's from 1970 and was released on a 45 on the Capitol label in Canada. On my site I show the very interesting picture sleeve they gave this 45. And what is almost as interesting is how tame the stereotyping is on both sides. Yes, the sissy voice is there, but the story lines are so ordinary, especially for that time period, you have to wonder why they thought enough of the record to give it a picture sleeve. It's a real collector's oddity. The artist's name of course is made up, and actually sounds like a porn name. Anyway, here's Rock Harding and "You Ain't Done Better Than Me."
- You Ain't Done Better Than Me (1970)
Yes, another country song about mistaken gender identities. From 1971 that was "Helluva World" by Howard Barnes. And here's one more, by country artist Freddy Weller. He did quite well in the country market through the 70's, and on his 1973 album, "Too Much Monkey Business," was an interesting song called "Betty Ann and Shirley Cole."
Freddy Weller - Betty Ann and Shirley Cole (1973)
This is JD Doyle and, again this month I'm bringing you "Straight Artists, Queer Songs: The 1970's," and this is a three-parter, with two more hours to be found on my site, at queermusicheritage.com. And, like I said last month, in no way am I implying that these are all the songs from the 1970's with gay references; they are just the ones I found interesting. I'm rounding out Part 1 of this show with another classic song. It reached Billboard #16 in 1973 but its fame has far surpassed that chart position. Get ready to join Lou Reed and "Walk on the Wild Side."
Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side (1973)
Part 2 - 1974 to 1977
Thelma Houston - One Out Of Six (1976)
That was called "One Out Of Six," and most of you will know Thelma Houston from her huge disco hit "Don't Leave Me This Way," which reached #1 in 1976. But she also recorded a very gay song that year for the movie "Norman, Is That You." The movie starred Redd Foxx and Pearl Bailey and the premise was their finding out that their son was gay and dating a white man.
And this is JD Doyle and Queer Music Heritage, and welcome to Part 2 of my special feature "Straight Artists, Queer Songs: The 1970's." And I've split the 70's roughly into three groups, and this segment will cover 1974 through 1977. The next song is from 1975 but I just found out about it, and it really feeds my imagination. It's about the Hardy Boys, the ones of detective novel and TV fame. Now they go back to the late 20's but my first exposure was the Disney series, in 1956, with Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk, who later came out as gay. A late 70's TV show had Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as our heroes. Now, I already had a huge crush on Parker Stevenson, from his 1972 movie "A Separate Peace." So when I heard this next track in my head those two actors were cast in the plot of the song, the way I would have loved to have seen them, as "Hardy Boys at the Y."
Wainwright III - Hardy Boys at the Y (1975)
If you look on the album for "Hardy Boys at the Y" you won't find that title, likely due to copyright reasons. I'm sure some TV network would have complained, so on the LP it's just called "Untitled." And it was sung by Loudon Wainwright III, now more famous as the father of Rufus. The album was called "Unrequited." And the song after that was a chain of unrequited love, with one person really loving the next, matter-of-factly including a gay couple. That was simply called "Love Song," and it was by Severin Browne, from 1974.
In the 70's the Rubettes were kind of a power-pop act from the UK that had a string of hits, the biggest being "Sugar Baby Love." One of their last releases was in quite a different vein and tells a sad story. From 1976 was "Under One Roof."
- Under One Roof (1976)
That was The Kinks urging their friend to come out of the closet and live "On the Outside." That was from their "Sleepwalker" album from 1977, and they have garnered an appearance in each of these 70's segments.
Next are two gay country novelty songs, both from 1974, and the second one actually made the charts, up to #12, but the first is perhaps more well-known, and is dripping in stereotypes. Allegedly by Ben Gay & the Silly Savages, it's the "Ballad of Ben Gay." I'll like to dedicate it to Wayne and Bruce at the Chartreuse Moose, oh wait, they're going to do that.
Ben Gay & the Silly Savages - Ballad of Ben Gay (1974)
That same year Jim Stafford, who had a number of successful comic songs during the 70's and 80's, released one with an intentional surprise ending.
Jim Stafford - My Girl Bill (1974)
"My Girl Bill," by Jim Stafford. I have a personal memory of that song. Now, remember that this was not a song about two gay guys, it was just a joke. But this was 1974, and I was at work and the song came on the radio. A male coworker, about my age, heard it and just started to get so angry, and I'm sure he expressed that very colorfully. From deep in my closet, I didn't say a word, but I knew to keep that door especially closed around him.
Coming up three songs by well-known black artists, Funkadelic, the Miracles, and Joe Tex. First, Funkadelic singing, in 1974, that "Jimmy's Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him."
- Jimmy's Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him (1974)
Funkadelic gave us "Jimmy's Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him," from their 1974 album "Standing at the Verge of Getting It On." Next was the Miracles and their million-selling album "City of Angels," in 1975. Smokey Robinson had already left the group several years earlier, but they were obviously doing well. The album included the fairly tolerant song "Ain't Nobody Straight in L.A." And Joe Tex, well, when he wasn't talking about skinny legs and all that, he was just insisting on warning his friend. The song was "Be Cool, Willy Was Dancing With a Sissy," from his 1977 album "Bumps & Bruises."
This next song is vague enough that it could be argued either way that his other love is a man. The UK band Ian Lloyd & Stories tell us about "Another Love." And this starts off a trio of bisexual songs.
& Stories - Another Love (1974)
The band Sweet brought us "AC-DC" on their 1975 album "Desolation Boulevard," and an act you probably don't know is the Australian band Supernaut. They were very hot in that country in the late 70's, taking all the way to #1 their song "I Like It Both Ways." Hmm, a bisexual song at number one? You're right, it didn't chart at all in this country.
And this next song charted nowhere, but is quite well known. In 1970 the Rolling Stone were ending their contract with Decca Records, and owed them one more song. Well, they made sure Decca would not make any money from it, as they wrote one of the filthiest songs in rock history. They came up with "Cocksucker Blues."
Stones - Cocksucker Blues (1970)
"Cocksucker Blues" was from 1970, and you may notice that the way I've divided these three segments up, by years, well, that should have been in Part 1. But that segment is the part that airs locally on public radio, so that just wouldn't work. The next song was about another man about town. Lewis Furey sang about "Hustler's Tango" on his self-titled 1975 album. And he included several songs on his albums that touched on the gay side of life.
Getting near the end of Part 2 and I know I told you I was purposely avoiding including cover songs, but this one is just too much fun and is actually more of a parody. It's from the UK from 1977 by The Roadies, called "Packer of the Leads."
Roadies - Packer of the Leads (1977)
And, I thank you for listening to Part 2 of Queer Music Heritage. This is JD Doyle and this has been the middle part of "Straight Artists, Queer Songs: The 1970's." Rod Stewart closes the segment and I think my favorite of his albums was "Tonight's the Night," from 1977, and it included the sad story of "The Killing of Georgie."
Rod Stewart - The Killing of Georgie (1977)
Part 3 - 1977 to 1979
Kinks - Out of the Wardrobe (1978)
And the Kinks bring us one more song, this one about a transvestite who comes "Out of the Wardrobe." That's from their 1978 album "Misfits." Welcome back to Part 3 of "Straight Artists, Queer Songs: The 1970's," and I'm JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage. This segment finishes the 70's starting in 1977, and coming from that year is an obscure band called the Twinkeyz, and their song "Aliens in Our Midst."
- Aliens in Our Midst (1977)
From 1978, that was an L.A. band called the Sunset Bombers and the song was obviously called "Drag Queen." The band didn't last long but their bass player went on to do the same job for The Knack, of "My Sharona" fame.
Despite the lyrics of their 1978 song "Gay Boys in Bondage," I have no reason to think that the band Drug Addix were gay. They were a short lived UK act probably most famous for the late Kirsty MacColl singing backups for them.
- Gay Boys in Bondage (1978)
Those two were by the Skyhooks, a very popular 70's band from Australia, pretty much unheard of in the States. And that first track by them took an interesting approach, of being "Straight in a Gay Gay World." That certainly wasn't true late in 1976 when they released the song, and they even made it the title track for the album. They were probably going for irony. The other one I played for you by them was an unreleased track from 1979, "Funky & Gay." Kind of preoccupied, weren't they?
Coming up are several songs that could not be played on broadcast radio, and the first is from 1978 and is called "Jet Boy Jet Girl" by a UK band called Elton Motello.
Elton Motello - Jet Boy Jet Girl (1978)
And if you have the Elton Motello album then you also have the seven-minute version, but rest assured, the three-minute track I gave you lost no nuances. Here's another penetrating song, by Mitch Ryder. In the 60's he had a slew of hits but by 1978 when he released the album "How I Spent My Vacation," it was kind of like, gee, he spent his vacation having sex with men. There are a couple more songs of this ilk but I picked the most blatant one, "Cherry Poppin'."
Mitch Ryder - Cherry Poppin' (1978)
In Part 2 I played Dr Hook, doing a song written by Shel Silverstein called "Freaker's Ball." I could have played you Silverstein's own version but wanted to save him for this one, an answer record to his own song. It's called "Father of a Boy Named Sue."
Shel Silverstein - Father of a Boy Named Sue (1978)
I find that song kind of distasteful, but that's just me. It was a little bit country and here are two that definitely are country, and one is a sequel to the other. In 1977 there was a craze of owning CB, or citizen's band, radios for your trucks, allowing drivers to talk with each other, and Rod Hart saw his opportunity and came out with a song becoming his only chart record. It made it to Billboard #67 and was called "CB Savage." After it you'll hear an answer record, by an artist I can find nothing about, Felder Fitzgerald, singing "The Real CB Savage.
- CB Savage (1977)
1977 was also the year Anita Bryant started her "Save the Children" campaign, and she became a lightning rod that some activists give credit to for really getting the gay movement moving. A number of artists, gay and straight, wrote songs about her, and here are two of the straight ones, Charlie King and Tom Paxton. Charlie's song is called "Thank You, Anita" and Tom's song, "Anita OJ" deals with the orange juice boycott she also prompted.
King - Thank You, Anita (1979)
Over the last twenty years Randy Newman has been nominated for an Academy Award 20 times and has won twice, and he's been writing hits for years. And he's done fine singing his own songs, but one I don't really like is from his 1979 album, "Born Again." It's called "Half a Man." And I'll follow it with one I do like.
- Half a Man (1979)
Also from 1979 that was Steve Goodman and "Men Who Love Women Who Love Men," from his album "High and Outside."
Down to the last song of three hours of "Straight Artists, Queer Songs: The 1970's" and this is JD Doyle and I thank you for listening. Some of you may scratch your heads at the closing song, but I think the lyrics are the perfect song reflecting being in the closet. And unless Barry Manilow comes out, the song fits on this show. From his "This One's For You" album from 1977 is "All the Time."
Barry Manilow - All the Time (1977)