Script for September 2007 QMH
Maxine Feldman - Angry Atthis (1979)
Welcome to Queer Voices on KPFT and I'm JD Doyle. From time to time on Queer Music Heritage I like to feature songs that don't really fit into any theme, so this is another one of my Songs I've Been Meaning To Play shows. And that opening song is called "Angry Atthis" and is a special one to the history of our music culture. I give it credit for being the first openly lesbian song, and it was by Maxine Feldman. Sadly, I am reporting that Maxine Feldman passed away on August 18th, in Albuquerque, at age 62. I was very pleased to interview her for QMH in 2002, and here's just a snippet of that interview. I asked her about the song "Angry Atthis."
Ah, okay, "Angry Atthis" I wrote May 13th, 1969. And I had just left Boston and I had been living down in New York, too. And Mayor Lindsay had sent these cops into gay bars where they would imitate gay guys, and as soon as the guys went outside, they would bust them. Now that was called entrapment, but it wasn't called entrapment then. So there were many things, being thrown out of college, always having to hide who you were, it got me so damn angry that one night, when I arrived in Los Angeles, California, it was the first I arrived, I wrote "Angry Atthis." And it just came spewing forth. It just talked about everything that I was angry about, of not being able to hold my lover's hand. Were not child molesters, we're not this, we're not that, and so I figured the best way to put it sometimes is in a song, and this was prior, as you know, since it was May 13th, prior to the gay movement as we know it today, but it was in the air. I mean, you know what happened at Stonewall at Christopher at the end of June, it was in the air, it was bound to happen, we were all getting very tired of being invisible and losing our jobs, losing our schools, losing our parents. So, that does that kind of
That's a pretty good start, where did you get the title for the song?
Alright, Atthis was one of Sappho's lovers, and I had of course read Sappho the lesbian poet, and originally I was going to call it, you know, "Sappho's Sadness" or something and I went, no, let me call it "Angry Atthis." And anyone will know who Atthis is if they've read Sappho, they will know that Atthis was one of her many lovers. When you also look at the words, if you look at "Angry Atthis," which is spelled a-t-t-h-I-s, it also, if you separate the words out it becomes "angry at this." So it was kind of a double, I like words, so it was a double meaning.
You can hear that entire interview on the April of 2002 page of my site.
[This section omitted for time reasons: As she said, Feldman wrote the song in 1969, and it took another three years before it was recorded, as a 45. In those years she was OUT well before it was considered safe for a gay or lesbian artist to be performing openly. This was before Olivia Records or any of the other early openly lesbian recordings. Feldman's openness lost her bookings and she was banned from some clubs, but she never compromised her act or her music. The song "Angry Atthis" later appeared on her 1979 album, "Closet Sale." As a performer, she was a fixture at the Michigan Women's Festival for most of the 70's, and her song "Amazon" became an annual theme song for the event.]
I'm moving next to one of the members of another historic act, Romanovsky & Phillips. Though they stopped performing together years ago Ron Romanovsky is still making music, and of course many of his songs are political, like this one he sent me last December. It's called "Hard Times for Closet Cases," and at the time was inspired by the scandal surrounding evangelist Ted Haggart. Well, those hypocrites just can't stay out of the news, and the song applies just as well to Senator Larry Craig from Idaho. Ron Romanovsky and "Hard Times for Closet Cases."
Ron Romanovsky - Hard Times for Closet Cases (2006)
Bonus Track: Senator Larry Craig's restroom adventures reminded me of the song "Tap," which was in the 1994 gay musical "The Ballad of Little Mikey." "Tap" was about, well, the signals one might use in a public restroom to get your neighbor's attention. The song at 11 minutes was too long for the show, and not quite the subject matter I wanted to use, but I still want to give you a chance to hear it. Click Here to download "Tap"
The Australian duo Bluehouse has been producing excellent music for many years, and they've just put out their fourth full-length CD, called "One More Kiss." The duo is comprised of Jacqui Walter and Bernadette Carroll, and their new CD was produced by Aussie guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel. While the album is mostly original songs, one of the covers caught my ear and I asked Jacqui to tell me about their version of "Help Me Make It Through the Night."
Jacqui Walter of Bluehouse comment (2007)
I just wrote in a press release here in Australia that we managed to take a Kris Kristofferson ballad and turn it into something that sounded like honky tonk bar room brawl music. Yeah, when we do covers we generally, we really like to mix them up and do something different with them, and we sent Tommy (Emmanuel) two versions of that and the other was a real beautiful, harmony rich sort of version of it, and then we said, let's do this punk version and he'll never pick it, he'll never go for it. So Bern started playing these weird chords and we sent it off to him, and when we saw him he said, I really like that version, I think we should do that, and we said, really? He said, yeah, c'mon. And he had the most fun playing that. It was hysterical watching him record that, playing the guitar. He also did all the drums on the album. He just went to town on that.
Bluehouse - Help Me Make It Through the Night (2007)
That was Bluehouse. Next I want to share with you songs from the latest releases by two very talented artists. First up is Terry Christopher. His new album is called "Journey of a Wordsmith" and I just love the song "Brothers In Arms & Sister Soldiers."
Christopher - Brothers In Arms & Sister Soldiers (2007)
Following Terry Christopher was Nick Granato and the song "In This Human Race." That's from his CD "Outside the Lines." Here's a little more about Nick. Over the years he has had over 250 songs recorded, and some 38 charting singles, producing numerous awards, honors and nominations. His songs have been covered by some highly notable names like Randy Travis, Pamela Stanley, Bette Midler, Stella Parton, Crystal Gayle, Eddie Rabbitt & Juice Newton, just to name a few. Again, his name is Nick Granato.
Tornados - Telstar (1962)
Focus on Joe Meek
Now it wouldn't be a Queer Music Heritage show without my digging into some obscurities. Today probably only record collectors remember the name Joe Meek, but he was a legendary British record producer in the early 1960's. His innovative style and very distinctive production techniques gave him legendary status at that time. But personally he was a very troubled man and by 1966 he was in deep depression, caused by lack of success of his recordings, near bankruptcy and the oppression he felt for being homosexual. Homosexuality was still illegal in the UK at that time. You're hearing a bit of the smash hit "Telstar" from 1962 by the Tornados, which he produced.
That group wasn't gay, but on the last 45 he produced for them, in 1966, he perhaps gained some satisfaction by exposing a reality long suppressed. On the flip side of their record "Is That a Ship I Hear" he placed what sounded like a throwaway song, called "Do You Come Here Often." It's an innocuous sounding instrumental and most people, had they even bothered to turn the record over, would have stopped listening well before the point of interest I'm telling you about. At about 2 minutes and 15 seconds into the song, he inserted this bit of conversation apparently intended to sound like it came from a London gay club, with two obviously bitchy queens.
Tornados - Do You Come Here Often (1966)
Remember this was 1966, and that indulgence by producer Joe Meek was in a way an amazing achievement. It was the first record on a UK major label, Columbia, to give us a look at gay life, with all the campiness sometimes present. No one knows how much satisfaction that recording gave him, because within six months he had committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun.
I want to share a couple of other Joe Meek oddities. Back then it was not uncommon for songwriters to make recordings of songs they wrote intended to be sung by female artists. Here's a demo recording of his called "He's Mine" and it will be followed by a tribute recording.
Meek - He's Mine (early 60s)
That second song was a little of "My Johnny Doesn't Come Around" and appeared on a various artists Joe Meek tribute album out of Spain in 2002, with that track by the group La Prohibita. The song was originally a UK hit in 1964 by the girl group Flip & the Dateliners.
I've got another demo from the 60s and it also keeps those pronouns intact, which is of course why I'm playing it. It was written by the songwriting team of Pete Anders & Vinnie Poncia, who also got some radio play under the name The Tradewinds, with their hit "New York's A Lonely Town." They wrote songs for the Ronettes and Darlene Love, among many others, and I can't resist their 1963 demo of the song "She's the Girl Who Stole My Baby."
Pete Anders & Vinnie Poncia - She's the Girl Who Stole My Baby (1963)
Pete Anders & Vinnie Poncia and "She's the Girl Who Stole My Baby," with baby coming off as very bisexual. And here's one more visit to the early 60s.
Cannibal & the Headhunters - Land of 1000 Dances (1965)
That of course is the classic oldie "Land of 1000 Dances" as done by the East L.A. band Cannibal & the Headhunters in 1965. Probably not many of you know that Cannibal was the nickname for Frankie Garcia and he was gay. He quit the music business in 1966 and died of AIDS in 1996.
From the present, here's a song from an album I think is just excellent. It's very infectious pop music out of England by an artist going by the name Mika. He's getting a lot of attention with his album "Life in Cartoon Motion" and he's maintaining a very evasive stance as to whether or not he is gay. Out Magazine recently did a 7 page story on him, complete with cover photo and his position is "anyone can label me but I'm not willing to label myself." Well, he pegs my gaydar and here's his song "Grace Kelly."
Mika - Grace Kelly (2007)
Lots of Freddy Mercury influences there, from the very talented Mika.
I'm shifting to Israel now and an artist I've become quite taken with. He's a megastar there and his coming out in 2002 didn't hurt his career at all. His name is Ivri Lider and I'm going to spell that for you: I-V-R-I L-I-D-E-R. That way you'll be able to find his videos, which are so sexy. Unfortunately he does not have an English album yet, and most of his recordings so far have been sung in Hebrew, but I'm sharing two songs with you that are in English. The first song can be found on the new various artists CD "Music With a Twist: Revolutions," which is the first effort by Sony's new gay marketing section. And I absolutely love this song. It's called "Jesse."
Ivri Lider - Jesse (2007)
Also by Ivri Lider is a song that is featured in the new Israeli gay movie "The Bubble," and I think his version of this song is utterly charming. It's one of my favorite songs, "The Man I Love."
Ivri Lider - The Man I Love (2007)
Tribute to My Partner, Jeff
"The Man I Love" as done by Ivri Lider. And that song is perhaps an appropriate way to lead into the last section of this show, as I want to do a tribute to the man I loved, my partner Jeff. He died on August 9th of cancer and I'm very much dealing with the grief of that, with all that comes with it, feeling sad, numb and empty, all with an unreal aspect to it. We celebrated our 12th anniversary in the hospital, four days before he died, and despite the very difficult last year and a half, those were very happy years. I feel very honored to have loved him and will forever miss him.
Regular listeners may have heard him on this show before. He was an avid fan of the TV show "I Love Lucy." Was always watching the reruns, and I used to tease him that like Lucy was always pestering Ricky to be on his show, we joked that Jeff wanted to be on my show. We finally indulged in that about a year ago, when I got Jeff to do the sort of commercial part usually aired midway through the show. Here's what that sounded like.
Jeff Pierce - QMH promo (2006)
He was a sweetheart, perhaps the most kind and good and gentle man I've ever known, so I searched very hard for the right songs to play. When Tret Fure heard about my loss she sent me a song that will be on her new album "True Compass," to be released in a few weeks. I thank her for that, as the song is beautiful. It's called "Sail Away."
Tret Fure - Sail Away (2007)
"Sail Away" by Tret Fure. Another song I found that comes close to what I wanted to say is by one of my favorites, Mark Weigle. On his "Out of the Loop" album from 2002 was the song "Wish You Were Here."
Mark Weigle - Wish You Were Here (2002)
Mark Weigle. Before I get to the last song I want to mention that if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. And please check out my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com, where you can hear a much expanded version of this show. I've also set up a special section of my site at a tribute to Jeff, with lots of photos of him, and us, over the years. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston.
Now I knew the last song in my tribute had to be a very special one, and knowing Jeff I know that he would not want it to be a song of mourning, but rather, one of hope. It seems almost like he told me to play this one. It's from the 1997 musical "The Last Session." We saw the show a couple times, when it was staged in Houston, and have met the composer Steve Schalchlin. Jeff loved this song, and I hope you see why. Jeff was the love of my life and I will always cherish the wonderful gift of knowing him. From "The Last Session," here's the song "When You Care."
Last Session - When You Care (1997)
Sugarbeach - I Just Love Girls (2007)
Welcome the second hour of Songs I've Been Meaning to Play, on Queer Music Heritage. That song, called "I Just Love Girls" is brand new, from a Canadian duo going by the name Sugarbeach. This is JD Doyle and this is the internet only version of the show, which gives me more time and more leeway in what I choose to play. And I'm getting into those waters right away with the latest CD by Lisa Koch. It's called "Tall Cool Drink" and I asked her about the title track.
Lisa Koch comments (2007)
Just to let you know, "Tall Cool Drink" is about my partner. I think the last CD that I wrote, I broke up with my partner shortly afterwards. Of course that happens in lesbian land, too. My latest partner is a very tall girl, so I wrote that song about her, just to give you an idea, if you hadn't figured that out already. [I knew with the context]. Yes, metaphors, metaphors, full of metaphors.
Lisa Koch - Tall Cool Drink (2007)
That was the song "Tall Cool Drink" and I couldn't resist also asking her about the song "Back When We Had Sex."
Lisa Koch comments (2007)
"Back When We Had Sex" is ah it's about any of those relationships that, I'll say probably longer than four/five years where you just, you know, you just don't do it as often. And especially in the lesbian world there's that myth of well, maybe it's not a myth, of lesbian bed death. So I just decided to write a song about, you know, long term couples, couples who have been together for a while, and they have to work at it. But they remember back to when they had that wonderful stuff.
Lisa Koch - Back When We Had Sex (2007)
And one of Lisa's good friends is Jamie Anderson and she's got a new album also, called "Three Bridges." It contains a song that was a bit of a surprise to me. It's called "Too Busy Being Blue."
Jamie Anderson - Too Busy Being Blue (2007)
On one of my earliest shows, back in 2000, I did a segment on Anita Bryant. Now this was not songs BY her but 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. 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. Here are a couple that I didn't have time to include on my earlier segment. First one is by Lynn Frizzel from 1978 and is called "Hurricane Anita.
Frizzell - Hurricane Anita (1977)
And Anita Bryant protest songs were not limited to gay atists. That last one was byTom Paxton and was called "Anita OJ," from 1978.
I've got one more song about Anita, and this one I think is amazing, not so much musically but for its source. Her bigotry not only inspired artists in America but in other countries. In Amsterdam there was a benefit concert to raise awareness about the issue, and that concert was recorded, with the album of speeches and songs being released. They titled the album "Miami Nightmare," because that's where the anti-gay referendum was held. Most of the songs were sung in Dutch but this one, sung by Manfred Langer, was in English and was called "A Message From Holland."
Manfred Langer - A Message From Holland (1980)
From the "Miami Nightmare" album, released in 1980, that was Manfred Langer and the song "A Message From Holland."
Also from Holland is this next song, and you may wonder why I'm playing it, as it's sung totally in Dutch. Well, it comes from a member of a choir called Children For Children and every year on television they have a special broadcast. In 2005 a boy in the choir named Terence sang a song called "Two Fathers." It's about the totally normal life he lives with his two fathers. I hope you'll be curious enough to watch the video, easily found on YouTube, because he and the song are utterly charming and I would be surprised if you can watch it without being very moved. Here's Terence and "Two Fathers."
Terence Uphoff - Two Fathers (2005)
I've been meaning to feature this next artist for some time, as he was one of the earliest to record lyrically gay material on his album. His name is Paul Wagner and the album "To Be a Man" was released in 1973. Here's the title track, followed by a song called "The One."
Wagner - To Be a Man (1973)
Once again, that was Paul Wagner, from his album "To Be a Man." And again, the title of this show is Songs I've Been Meaning to Play, and one of those is by I presume a straight artist named Andy White. He's from Ireland but now lives in Australia and has released a slew of albums. On one of them, called "Teenage," from 1996, comes the song "My Gay Cousin."
White - My Gay Cousin (1996)
Following Andy White was another straight artist, Cat Stevens, with a track I found interesting from his 1978 album "Back to Earth." Yes, I know that Randy, spelled R-A-N-D-Y, can also be a woman's name, but hey, I still thought it worth a spin.
Some more history, and this is obscure. One of the earliest gay musicals was produced in 1976 and with it writer and director John Glines brought us the story of the trials and tribulations of a gay lifeguard. The musical was called "Gulp." Now, there was no commercial release of this show's soundtrack, and here's where the advantage of having a big website comes in. I have a special section of my site called Gay Musicals. John Glines, now living in Thailand, saw this section and my mention of his show, and mailed me a recording of the soundtrack. From it, probably for the first time on radio anywhere, is the very political song "Hand Out the Leaflets."
From "Gulp" - Hand Out the Leaflets (1976)
I thank John Glines for that very rare track. Unfortunately, there have not been many gay musicals released in the last few years, but there was one from 2005 that quite impressed me. It's called "Songs From an Unmade Bed." I would love to see this performed locally, but it would really demand just the right actor, as it's a one character show, with him singing every song by himself. That takes a bit of talent to pull that off. And on the New York cast album that is accomplished quite well by Michael Winther. Pulling one song out of a concept album doesn't do it justice, but here's a taste of it, with the song "The Other Other Woman."
Michael Winther - The Other Other Woman (2005)
That was Michael Winther from the musical "Songs From an Unmade Bed."
Next I want to bring you a couple songs by one of the early women's music artists, Woody Simmons. She had two albums that I know of, with the first being "Oregon Mountains," from 1977. From it is the song "You've Got the Love."
Simmons - You've Got the Love (1977)
After the song "You've Got the Love" you heard one called "It Don't Rain." That one is from 1980 and came from Woody's second album, just called "Woody Simmons."
Now she's not disappeared into the woodwork. Recently she's appeared on two albums by Kitty Rose, playing on and helping produce them. Kitty Rose's latest album "Live at the Ryman" is an attempt to recreate the sound of the Grand Ole Opera, circa 1971. From it is the song "I Ain't No Pretty Little Thing."
Kitty Rose - I Ain't No Pretty Little Thing (2007)
Kitty Rose, from "Live at the Ryman."
The debut and so far only album by this next artist, well, I think it's just not gotten enough attention. It's called "Perfect Strangers" and is by Steve Snelling. How could you not like a song that boldly starts out with the lyrics "I learned to kiss from a boy named Mark"? That's what the title song does. Here's "Perfect Strangers."
Steve Snelling - Perfect Strangers (2001)
From 2001, Steve Snelling and his album "Perfect Strangers."
Next up, I'm very impressed with an artist whose been around a while, but I've just recently become aware of her, Susan Werner. I've got her two latest albums and I think they are both amazing. They are concept albums and very different and both extremely well done. The 2004 album "I Can't Be New" is sort of a cabaret/lounge album. She wrote all the songs and they are wonderful. From it is the song "I Was Late for the Dance."
Susan Werner - I Was Late for the Dance (2004)
I'm not playing the other Susan Werner song I have for you back to back, as it's a very different album. It's called "The Gospel Truth" and in it she comments on the place of the Church in contemporary America. This is an album just ripe for controversy. Again, it was hard to pick just one song, but here's one called "Our Father."
Susan Werner - Our Father (2007)
Two songs by Susan Werner.
Okay, time for the last song of this special bonus segment. Before I get to the last song I want to mention that if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. And please check out my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com. If you're listening to this part, well, you're already there, so thanks. This is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage.
Now, you've heard me talk about Eurovision before on this show. That's the song competition between European countries that's been an annual event for over 50 years. And you thought "American Idol" was the first one of its kind. Well, the countries compete against each other and the entries seem to be getting more an more liberal. In 2007 was the first appearance in contest history by a solo drag act, with Peter Andersen representing Denmark. For his act he goes by the name DQ and his song finished 19th in the competition. His song is called "Drama Queen" and now he's got a full-length album. Take a listen to the lyrics though. I have to wonder if the phrase Drama Queen means something different in Denmark. Anyway, it's catchy and has a cool video, which you can easily find on YouTube. Closing the show is DQ and "Drama Queen."
DQ - Drama Queen (2007)