Script for September 2000, QMH:
I'm going to start out tonight's show with something historical. It's an English duo named Layton & Johnstone singing their version of the Gershwin classic, "the man I love."
Layton & Johnstone - the man I love (1928)
Well, that sounded pretty gay to me. But, that is only a gay song by hindsight. It's from 1928 and would not have been considered gay at the time, but these are males singing about a male. Here's the explanation. In the late 20s and early 30s 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 today we do, which make these a lot of fun. That also explains my second example, by none other than Bing Crosby. I just love the title of this song. It's called "ain't no sweet man worth the salt of my tears".
Bing Crosby - aint no sweet man worth the salt of my tears (1928)
Once again, that was Layton & Johnstone singing "the man I love" and Bing Crosby, singing "aint no sweet man worth the salt of my tears", both from 1928.
Since there will be so many obscurities heard on this show, I thought those of you on the internet would like to be able to see photos of the artists and recordings, and view the playlist. So I've set up a special web page just for this show.
We're going to jump ahead now, about 50-60 years. First is a song called "mademoiselle," by Lucie Blue Tremblay. She is a French Canadian artist, and in this song she is singing about the joy of being at a women's music festival. In the first verse she mentions meeting someone in "chemical free" and "walking on the land with my red arm band". Chemical Free became known as the drug, alcohol and tobacco free sections of many festivals, and arm bands were worn to identify that you were a festival participant. I've read that some women are so moved by the experience of a women's festival that they don't want to take off the armbands, and wear them for weeks back in their real world. And if you want to read the definitive book on the subject, pick up "Eden Built By Eves: The Culture of Women's Music Festivals" by Bonnie J. Morris. I had the pleasure of interviewing her a few months ago and she and the book are fascinating.
I'm following Lucie Blue Tremblay with another festival related song. It's by Alix Dobkin. In 1973 Dobkin recorded one of the earliest openly lesbian albums, "Lavender Jane Loves Women." She is one of the pioneers of the women's music movement and is still active politically and musically. This song, called "if it wasn't for the women," was recorded live at the 10th Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and is from the album "Michigan, Live '85."
Lucie Blue Tremblay
- mademoiselle (1986)
The Lucie Blue Tremblay song came from her self-titled 1986 album. And it also contains a version sung in French of this next song. But I'm playing the original. It's by another Canadian artist, Ferron, and the song is one of her most well known, "ain't life a brook". It's from her "Testimony" album from 1981. She's been putting out critically acclaimed work for over 20 years. I'm also playing a song from her latest CD "Inside Out" from last year. That CD is a very interesting one of all cover versions of well-known rock & roll songs. I want to read her message from the liner notes:
This is a CD of cover tunes, but uncover tunes would be a more apt description as they represent the radio times I grew up in. This is music that lifted, or broke, my young not-as-yet-known-to-be-gay heart as I carried my little transistor radio in its leather case atop my schoolbooks. I was recognized in the lyrics, moved by the music and baffled by the feelings that seemed to turn me inside out. It is over 30 years later and with the help of musician friends met over that time period, I am able to reclaim these songs, leaving gender intact, and have them finally be totally true for me.
So here's Ferron singing "ain't life a brook" and the cover tune I picked from her new CD, the Temptations song, "my girl"
- ain't life a brook (1981)
This would be a good time to take a break and remind you that you are listening to Queer Music Heritage, a part of Lesbian & Gay Voices on KPFT, Houston. Also, be sure to listen to KPFT every Saturday night at midnight for After Hours with Jimmy Carper. It's Queer Radio With Attitude.
My spotlight artist for tonight is Anita Bryant. No, No, that's not right. Now, before you start to wonder, I'm not playing songs by Anita Bryant, but songs about her.
And, I guess I need to give a short explanation for our younger listeners as to what the fuss was all about. Bryant was a runner-up from Oklahoma in the 1958 Miss America Pageant and as a singer had some mild chart success from around 1959 to 1961, with her big hit being "paper roses," reaching #5 in 1960. In the late 70s she was the used as the main promoter of Florida Orange Juice sales, appearing in countless TV commercials. Around 1977 she began her "Save The Children" campaign, with the help of the Moral Majority. It was a hate-filled, anti-gay campaign.
The gay community did not stand still for this, and I remember reading about protests at her rallies, one of which, in Norfolk, Virginia, even brought her to tears. Strangely, her efforts backfired, as it proved to be a shot in the arm to the gay movement. I was living in Norfolk shortly after that time, and belonged to a gay group, and remember the members crediting the rallying of the community to combat Anita as the impetus to found that group. That group went on to become the main gay focus of Norfolk, publishing a gay newspaper for over 20 years, providing the gay switchboard, and in general the main social and activist meeting place outside of the bars. Anita lit that spark, and Norfolk was not an isolated example. The gay community nationwide started a boycott of Florida Orange Juice, which was successful, eventually leading to Anita losing that job.
There were a number of songs recorded around that time that deal with Anita. They range a little in their approach. In the first one of this set, Charlie King sings "Thank You, Anita" for bringing us together. And then Rod McKuen encourages the boycott with "Don't' Drink The Orange Juice" and then a group called the Four Swallows sing that "Lord knows, I don't need Anita"
- thank you, anita (1979)
The Charlie King song was from his album "Somebody's Story" and the Four Swallows song was released on a 45 out of Pittsburgh. The Rod McKuen song was from a rare, and a little strange, disco album called "Slide Easy In." The album was mainly disco songs and featured McKuen's folky song in the middle of it. It came out on McKuen's label, but his name does not appear on the cover at all, and inside only on some of the writing credits. You have to know what album he's on to find this song.
I've got three more anti-Anita tracks to play, and two of these will show that the sentiment reached outside the US. First up is a 45 from Quebec by Paul Vincent called "gay rock for anita" and the third one is from Australia. Judy Small takes a very tongue in cheek approach with "Festival Of Light". The Moral Majority had a partner in Australia, which had the campaign name Festival of Light. In between, I play a little of a comedy bit by Robin Tyler, where she thanks Anita. It's from her 1979 album "Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom."
Vincent - gay rock for anita (1977)
That last song was by Judy Small. Small has released over a dozen very good albums over the years. "Festival of Light" was from her 1980 album "A Natural Selection." I particularly recommend her latest album "Let The Rainbow Shine: Judy Small Out And Proud", and I know I'll be playing songs from it on future shows.
Well, this show has been heavy on history, but now I want to play something brand new. Grant King is a modern-day gay folk singer. He released a very well-received CD in 1994 called "Let Love Out", so I've been waiting eagerly for his next release. Well, it's finally here; in fact it's not even officially released yet. I was very pleased that he sent me an advance pressing, and even more pleased when I heard it. I'm already prone to name it one of the best gay CDs of the year. The CD is called "Bodies of Water" and from it I'd like to share with you the songs "do you believe" and "scissors paper stone."
King - do you believe (2000)
That was Grant King with "do you believe" and "scissors paper stone." I want to thank you for listening to Queer Music Heritage. If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, including maybe where to track them down, I'd be glad to help, so please email me. This is JD Doyle for Lesbian & Gay Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back on the 4th Monday of next month with another installment of Queer Music Heritage. For my last song I can't resist playing one more track from the new CD by Grant King. Here is the title track "Bodies of Water."
King - bodies of water (2000)