Back to Oct 2003 Show

Script for October 2003 QMH

David Brown - kiss (1996)

Welcome to Queer Voices on KPFT and this segment is called Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and I'm here on the 4th Monday of each month to bring you an hour devoted to our culture's music. The music you just heard is kind of a teaser for one of the special segments on tonight's show. It's by New York singer/songwriter David Brown, who you'll hear about later, one of three male artists whose work I'm saluting tonight from the genres of folk-rock and pop, covering the last 20 years.

LeRoy Dysart

The first artist I'm featuring produced an album that I've admired for a long time, and it's taken me over a year to track him down for an interview. His name is LeRoy Dysart, and in 1982 he released his only album, called "We Are Everywhere." The title song took on almost anthem status immediately after he wrote it. And among other highlights of his musical career was writing the official theme song for the 1982 Christopher Street West Parade, in Los Angeles. It was called "A New Gay Dawning."

He's done quite a bit of acting in musicals, and cabaret singing and has composed for choirs and orchestras. He's written with Christian singer Marsha Stevens, and has even written an opera based on the Biblical story of David and Jonathan. The inspiration for his anthem, "We Are Everywhere," came from both from his experience of hearing Sergeant Leonard Matlovich speak at a Pride event, and from watching on television the coverage of the 1979 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. I asked him to tell us about it.

[LeRoy comments]
Several of the songs on the album are…I mean, they are directly in response to the difficulties I was going through, mostly with my family. My mom was like on this crusade where if she could keep me back at home long enough, that she would somehow get me converted back to being a straight person again. I had been there several weeks, and just wasn't leaving the house, wasn't leaving my room, very depressed, and someone sent me an Advocate, which announced the gay pride weekend at the University of Missouri, which was only a half hour away. They made me promise to go. And Leonard Matlovich (if you remember who he was, the Air Force guy?) was speaking. So I promised to go, and it was a great time. He was very inspiring. He was a wonderful speaker. It really struck me when he said, "What if everything gay people had done was not here? What if every brick that a gay person had laid in a building was gone? What if every piece of road that a gay person had laid was not there? Do you think we'd be able to drive on the streets, or the buildings would hold up?" That got me to thinking all across the board, what would it be like if all of our contributions were just sucked out of the universe. That was really something to think about.

And then within a few days was the March. You know I could not watch it at home, so I had been invited to some of the peoples' house that I had met at Gay Pride Weekend a few weeks earlier, to come over and watch it on the news. We had a little party and watched it. The local channel showed all of about thirty seconds. But they just showed the camera panning. That whole place was just totally filled, and people were chanting "we are everywhere, we are everywhere," and it just made me cry. I didn't know that many gay existed in the whole world. Coming from Fulton (Missouri), the size of ten thousand people, something like that, I really thought I was the only one. So, as happens, songs just start in my head spontaneously. Just the phrase "we are everywhere" that everyone was chanting had music to it.

Here's a little bit of "We Are Everywhere"

LeRoy Dysart - we are everywhere (1982)

Another very noteworthy song by LeRoy was called "You Did It Out Of Love," and was in a way a thank you song to the organization Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, for the support he received by attending their meetings.

[LeRoy comments]
"We Did It Out of Love." My lover and I, at the time, my first lover, we got acquainted with Parents and Friends pretty early on, when we got together. We both came from families that were having troubles with us being gay, and we started going to Parents and Friends weekly discussion groups. They were really great people to us. Some of them sort of adopted us as surrogate kids, which was really nice, to get parental support that I'd never had before. I became very attached to some of the people there, and I wanted to write something to honor them. And they asked me to sing at their first international conference, and I just decided that I would surprise them with a song, for them.

LeRoy Dysart - you did it out of love (1982)

Do you have any other comments about the song "You Did It Out Of Love"?

[LeRoy comments]
That's basically all there is to it, except that I had asked, this was one of the first times that I had asked someone to co-write with me, Harry Wingfield, who is somebody that is really overlooked and forgotten. Harry was a guitarist and vocalist, but he was a comedian. He was known for a couple of comedy songs that he had put out on 45s. He wrote very funny comedy numbers, openly gay comedy numbers. There was one song of his that I went on to perform that was very 50's-like, like (sings) "oh, oh, oh, oh, the first time I met you was at our high school dance." Very funny song about two guys, it turns out to be, you think a guy and a girl going to the Senior Prom, but it turns out there was two guys who go with the girls, but they get to the dance and they end up kissing each other, and going home with each other, and making out in the car, and leaving their girlfriends behind at the dance.

When I visited LeRoy in Los Angeles last month I was delighted that he told me about Harry Wingfield and this song, because I had never heard of the artist, and I was even more pleased that he loaned me a copy of Harry Wingfield's tape, so that I could share the song with you. From the very rare 1992 cassette tape "Songs of Life, Songs of Love," here's "I Do, I Do, I Do (The Senior Prom Song)."

Harry Wingfield - I do, I do, I do (the senior prom song) (1992)

From The Advocate, 5/28/81

Again, that was Harry Wingfield. Gee, I would have loved to have heard songs like that on the radio when I was a kid. But back to my interview with LeRoy. I wanted to ask him about one more song, one that is one of my favorites from his album. Tell me about the song, "I Love A Man."

[LeRoy comments]
That was written for my lover at the time, as a proposal. It was a proposal, in a way. We had a date on a Friday night, which extended into Sunday afternoon. We had dinner, and then we didn't get out of bed until Sunday afternoon, something like that. And then I moved in the next Thursday. It was like we met on a Friday and the next Thursday I had moved in. [you're fast] (laughs) This was not typical behavior. This was very unusual. It was him. He was the one that really pushed it, and I was like on a roller coaster, didn't know how to get off. And we moved in as roommates, because we said, you know, we don't know each other very well, obviously, and we both still had the right to date other people, and we'd just be roommates and we'll see how things go.

So we called ourselves roommates for about six months. At course we were falling in love with each other as that time went by. So he went away on a trip, and that was when I really knew I was in love with him. [cause you missed him] Yeah, and how much I missed him. And sitting home being lonely for him produced "I Love A Man." And a friend of ours was joining him, at wherever it was he was, and I asked her to take a copy of it on a cassette tape to him and give it to him. It was kind of my way of saying, can we be lover now, and, we were. That's when we, that's when we changed from being roommates to lovers.

LeRoy Dysart - I love a man (1982)

Joe Bracco

The next artist I'm featuring is Joe Bracco, and with my love for openly gay lyrics it was natural for me to be drawn to his work. He began performing in the New York area in 1980 but it was not until several years later that he found his own voice, both personally and musically. To be true to himself, he stopped composing heterosexual songs and around 1987 started using his melodic flair to write songs that portrayed gay feelings and lives in a positive way. Joe's dream was to release an album of his songs, but sadly, he would not live to see that come true, because in March of 1991 he died of AIDS. He was only 30. His songs, mostly done on home recordings, were turned over to his good friend, Paul Phillips, of Romanovsky & Phillips, and Paul used his studio and arranging talents to complete Joe's dream. The album, released as a cassette tape in 1992, was called "True To Myself." I spoke with Paul Phillips recently and got these comments. I first asked him to comment about one of my favorite songs on the album, called "Friend in My Pocket."

[Paul comments]
"Friend In My Pocket" is a great song. I love it because it takes a subject that at that time in history not many people wanted to discuss. That was before there were condom ads on TV and whatnot, even before that discussion began, I think. Joe's dream for that song was that it would be used in educational campaigns, you know, for AIDS awareness and safe sex campaigns. That was his dream. And it was used a tiny bit. I think it aired on one of the cable stations, at one point. I mean, it's a very clever way of talking about a condom. But, yeah, I think it's a great song and it's really great to be able to educate and entertain at the same time.

Joe Bracco - friend in my pocket (1992)

Can you tell me something about him as a person?
Joe was an amazing man. He was such a sweetheart. He was passionate. He was Italian, in that way sort of definitely embodied the stereotype of the passionate Italian man. Um, he had such a wonderful heart. He was very opinionated and rather cantankerous at times, especially when his mom was there. They were close, they were very, very close. And, she was the light of his life.

Can you tell me a little about him as an artist?
As an artist? Well, I certainly respected his talent, very much so. I thought in some ways he was doing something similar to what we were doing, and he did at numerous times in our friendship, he did credit us or acknowledge us for being quite an inspiration for him.

How did you come to produce the album?
Well, Joe and I had a bit of a fling, um, not like a serious romantic fling but we were intimate, we were affectionate. We lived in two parts of the country so that probably wasn't ever going to become any more than just a warm and intimate friendship. And, in doing so I spent time as well with him at his home on Long Island, with his mom. So, he got sick, and before he got sick he had started working on an album project. He was choosing the songs, he was finding arrangers, arrangements, I should say, finding other people to play on the songs, trying to decide the song order, and stuff like that. He had saved some money up for the project, and then started getting sick. He contracted HIV, and it went full-blown to AIDS fairly quickly. In spent time with him right up until near the end. I wasn't there when he died, but I certainly was in the hospital visiting him at several occasions near the end. And he was constantly talking about the project, the album project, and I think it was something that actually gave him a will to survive, for a while. Unfortunately this was before a lot of the improvements in treatments, so his chances weren't really that strong. He just kept getting sicker and sicker. He just kept getting one thing after another.

Michael Callen was another one of his big influences. Michael was in New York at that point, still, or for part of that time. So he was somewhat friendly with Michael. I think Michael was also a real inspiration for Joe. On the other hand I think that Joe had great resentment for the fact Michael didn't seem to be getting as sick as he was. I remember him being at times a handful in the hospital. His mother used throw her hands up in the air and say, "I can manage him, I can't deal with him." He would lash out, and I think that's only natural when your life is ebbing away and you're young and you have this project that's finally going to be realized, but you can't get to it, because you can't stay out of the hospital long enough to get it put together.

When he died, shortly after he died, I called his mother up, and we talked. And it became apparent that he had saved some money up and that she somehow wanted to get this project finished. I originally offered to help her. The short version of the story I guess would be just that we eventually agreed that I would finish the project. I would bring it to New Mexico and finish it there, or put it together there, really. There were only a few tracks that had actually been recorded and they hadn't even been finished. So, all she had was a lot of homemade cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes that he had recorded at home. There were only I think, I think there were only like two or three songs on the album that had actually been recorded in a studio originally when I got the project, sort of in my lap. It's something I'm really proud of, that album, because, because it does have a lot of me in it, but it also, I think, has a great deal of respect for Joe and I think it definitely features Joe. I think part of that was I did have an understanding of who Joe was and what he had hoped to have with these songs, and with the album.

Can you tell us about the song "Coming Out"?
Yeah, it's a beautiful song. To me it ranks up there with "The Ones Who Aren't Here" (written by John Calvi, recorded by Meg Christian in 1982) in terms of how beautiful, how simple and beautifully evocative it is of the pain without, again without being morose and a real downer. It takes it in the other direction and comes from a place of warmth and love and encouragement, but in that warmth and love you also feel the pain on the other side.

Joe Bracco - coming out (1992)

The last song on the tape is almost his own benediction; please tell us about "Home Free, At Last"
Now that was one of Joe's earliest songs. That was a song that he actually recorded, and released on a 45, I think. Yeah, I believe that was released even on a 45. And that was when he was part of a duo, singing with his friend Debra, and it was actually written about his sister I believe. I think it's a great pop song, I really do, I think it's just a really nice little pop song. [and a great closing song for the tape] Well, the placement of that song on the album was definitely premeditated. It seemed like the perfect way to end the album, and you know anytime you set a song into an album, with other songs around it, and you know the story behind the artist it all, it all conspires to make for a different story than maybe the song set out to do. And that's one of those times when this is very true. The song really was about his sister, I think, leaving home, and stuff, but it ended up in the context of the album just being a beautiful way of saying farewell, of letting him go, you know, and hoping that he's at peace.

Joe Bracco - home free at last (1992)

That was Joe Bracco and his early duet partner, Debra Ruth, singing "Home Free at Last," from Joe's album "True To Myself." The album contains many other interesting songs that I can't do justice to here, but they have such titles as "Cruiser's Blues," "South Shore Boy," "Kiss Me In Spanish," "Golden Boy," and one very amusing one I won't comment on, called "Window Whacker." My interview with Paul Phillips was about twice longer than I could fit into this show, but you can hear the rest of it on my site.

And, this is a good time to remind you to be sure to listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Saturday night from midnight to 4 am, on KPFT; it's Queer Radio, with attitude. Also, I invite you to check out my website, at where you can view the playlist and see photos of the artists and recordings, and listen to the show anytime. [surrounded by theme from TV show "Will & Grace"]

David Brown

My last special feature for the show is on the music of David Brown. David released his first album in 1996, called "Splendid Wings." He followed that up in 1999 with "Storm In A Teacup," and they both showcase his unique ability to reach out to the listener emotionally while dealing with some uncommon issues. His music can be both harmonious and thought provoking at the same time. I've been a fan of his for several years, and was very pleased to meet and interview him in New York last spring.

David, please tell us, is it important for you to be "out" as a musician?
Yes and no. I was originally was moved to write a lot of this music as part of my coming out process and I wanted to yell it from the rooftops, and I still think out music is really important, and I think people being out is very important. At the same time I'm moving more toward the feeling that music is music and, and I'm not as concerned about being out all the time. It depends on who I'm talking to now, really, and if I feel like it's relevant.

The song "Cathy & Claire" was from your first album, "Splendid Wings." Can you tell us about it?
Cathy and Claire were two women that I lived with. "Cathy and Claire" was the first song that I wrote on the guitar, and that was two women I lived with in Brookline, Mass, I always want to say Brooklyn, Brookline. I'm from Massachusetts originally. And it was one of, one of my first real homes away from home, where I felt a great youthful independence and joy. I just actually felt a lot of things back then but it was a really fun time.

David Brown - cathy & claire (1996)

Another of my favorites from that album is "Mr. Right"
"Mr Right" was inspired by, ah, sexual compulsion, and ah looking for mr goodbar, looking for mr right, right now, for right now. It was a very just personal song, sort of exposing a part of myself, and it was a part of my process of coming out, too, more fully.

David Brown - mr. right (1996)

From "Storm in a Teacup," your second album, the song "Johnny Shoemaker" is very interesting
Johnny Shoemaker. There's a sort of genre of Johnny songs, there's Johnny songs out there, and, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," I don't know, there's, there are Johnny songs out there and I just felt like, Johnny is sort of a collage, "Johnny Shoemaker" I think of it of different very gay images. And I sort of incorporate like a soldier, a fighter, and there's a longing. It's a song about longing and longing for sort of, you know, sort of a mythical hero to come home, named Johnny.

David Brown - Johnny shoemaker (1999)

I wish we had time to play more songs from that album, such as "Embraced by the Mob," the song that got David banned from Borders Books, but listeners can hear a little of that one at his website, During our interview David was gracious enough to play two of his songs for me. They will likely be on his new album, hopefully released in the next few months, so you're getting a special advance listen to them. The first one is called "Magic," and the second is about his high school gym teacher.

David Brown - magic (2003)
David Brown - gym teacher (2003)

Okay, I've got one more song by David Brown I want you to hear, and it's my favorite, but before I play it, I want to thank you all for tuning into the show, and I want to thank LeRoy Dysart and David Brown for their interviews and to thank Paul Phillips for sharing his memories of Joe Bracco. Please check out my website, logically enough at If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, I'd love to hear them. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back on the fourth Monday of next month with another installment of Queer Music Heritage.

David, please tell us about the song "Every Kiss Is A Revolution"
"Every Kiss Is A Revolution" is about public displays of affection and how straight people can take for granted, gay people do not take for granted when they're out in public and want to show affection, because there's a risk, a real true risk of maybe verbal assault or physical assault and it can be very serious. So it's a revolutionary act to display affection, same-sex affection in public, and it's something I think about a lot. [I think it's your masterpiece] Really? Wow, wow, thank you. That's neat to hear. I mean I usually, I think, it's like to me that's sort of, it's kind of like old stuff to me today, but I know it's still relevant, so that's very nice to hear. Thank you, JD.

David Brown - every kiss is a revolution (1996)

Total Time: 58:41