QMH, June 2006, Script

Billie Burke Estate - Gay (2005)

Andy Liotta of the Billie Burke Estate

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 I'm going to kind of run amok, covering many, many types of music, from all over the world. And since it's June this show will also feature some gay pride songs, and the opening song definitely fits that description, and it has an interesting story. The song is called "Gay" and is by an act called the Billie Burke Estate, in honor of the actress who played the Good Witch in "The Wizard of Oz." It's from a 2005 album called "Give It All Away." I found that song delightful so I contacted the singer and writer, Andy Liotta, and got a very nice email back. He wrote me that he was glad I liked the song, but he wasn't actually a gay artist.

He went on to say: "So how does a straight songwriter come to write a song proclaiming 'I'm Gay,' you might ask? I don't really have an answer, as it was not a planned thing. The song pretty much wrote itself. Though not autobiographical, I found the song to be one of the most honest and direct things I've written. I consider coming out as a gay man in the US as about as courageous an act as there is, and the song is a celebration of that courage. I anticipated there could be some awkward moments when the 'is he or isn't he?' issue is ineviably raised, but ended up figuring my sexual orientation was pretty much irrelevant to the virtues of the song." Now isn't that refreshing.
Next up is a song that one of my favorite acts, Romanovsky & Phillips recorded, one of the very few they did not write on their own. I've tracked down the original version. The songwiter was Larry Havluck, a Minneapolis folksinger, and it appeared on a 1985 cassette tape of his called "Bi Now, Gay Later," and Bi was spelled B-I. Here's his song "Must've Been Drunk."

Larry Havluck - Must've Been Drunk (1985)

Ron Romanovsky & Paul Phillips recorded that song in 1986 on their "Trouble In Paradise" album, and I interviewed them on my May of 2003 show. I was very pleased when Ron Romanovsky recently sent me two new songs. Alas, one is only for my internet audience, but the other is a new gay marriage song that's not been released yet, called "The Sanctity of Marriage."

Ron Romanovsky - The Sanctity of Marriage (2006)

And the second song Ron sent me is being played for the first time anywhere on this show, and I thank Ron for that. It's an updated version of their 1986 song "Don't Use Your Penis For a Brain," and contains a new verse with some commentary about the worst President in our history.

Ron Romanovsky - Don't Use Your Penis For a Brain (2006)

Okay, here comes the gay pride section of the show, and I've uncovered some historic obscurities. The first is from 1977 and is by Bobby Sanders, and you can tell right away that he's responding to Anita Bryant. It's a 45 rpm recording on the label Equal Rights Records, and he credited it as sung by the International Gay Society. You can't get much more queer than this record. It's called "Stand Up For Your Rights."

International Gay Society - Stand Up For Your Rights (1977)

The International Gay Society and "Stand Up For Your Rights," and the year before, 1976, another very early gay pride 45 was produced. It's called "Come Out, Come Out" and was by New Freedom. Now for years in my collection all I had was a very ragged copy of this record, definitely not good enough to play on the air. So I went hunting on the net for a better one and finally searched on the name of one of the writers, Nick Curto. Not only did I find him but he sent me a new copy of the record and gave me this very interesting story of the history of that song.

Nick Curto - Interview (2006)

Well, "Come Out, Come Out" was a very special time in my life, doing that song because I'd been a gay activist in New York City, for about four or five years, really going strong. And I was meeting amazing people in the organizations with that, and for years some of my other friends, who were gay activists, wanted to communicate with the whole community, and tell them what new organizations and services that were now available to the gay community which were never available before. This was all brand new, everything was just bursting.

And they had gone to public television channel 13 in New York and said, is there any way we can get airtime so that we could tell the community what was going on. And they had been doing this for months and months. Then I got a call that said, Nick we did it, they've agreed to I believe it was four live hours of airtime where we could present different organizations, people from different services, have a little bit of entertainment. And this was unprecedented; no one had ever done this before. I was jumping up and down. This was a dream that had suddenly come true. And they said, Nick, you're a graphic artist, would you do a logo, so that when we go in and out of the program for all these hours, they would see this, an identification logo. I said, of course, I'm honored to do that, and I came up with something, and brought it to a meeting, they loved it.

And I said, what else are you doing visually, that's a long time on TV. They said, we'll be answering calls, taking calls from the listeners and viewers. We'll be doing talking heads, people from different organizations. And I said, that sounds great, but you need something more visual also. I had just got a new camera. It was a super 8 movie camera, in those days, super 8 sound. And I said, why don't I make a short movie, showing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people of different ages, holding hands, walking around New York City in an affectionate way, kissing, holding each other, and we'll put that on, as a short, 30-second, maybe 60-second, when we go in and out of the program. And they said, wow, that's a great idea, can you do it, I said, let me try. I put the word out, and I rounded up people that would fit that description. And we filmed I think it was two weeks, different places, in and out of New York. I edited it, brought it to them and they were blown away. And they said, okay Nick, what are you going to do for the soundtrack?

I said, umm, I didn't think of that yet, because I'd been so busy with the visuals. And they said, will you think about that and maybe come up with something, or pick some music. Well, we went looking for music from the gay community, and at that time, around '76, we couldn't find anything that really would work with the visuals. So I thought, well, there's nothing out there, we got to do something. And I'd done a little music before, composed a few things on my own. And I thought of a dear friend of mine, Bob Gaston, who was a performer and did write. I called Bob up and I told him the situation, would he help me, and he said, sure. So we went and started working on music and a theme. The theme was "come out," the whole community coming out, and many levels of that. So we came up with a song, Bob and his guitar and me doing some of the lyrics, and it was called "Come Out, Come Out."

We went to a small studio. We had put ads in the paper, saying that we needed people from the community that were singers to do this special project. And they came. We had incredible talent, absolutely amazing talent from the community. We went to the studio and recorded it. I think it took about two hours, you know, several takes, and we were thrilled. The airdate came, and we were so excited. We had all the interviews. Again, it was all live TV, and we showed the logo symbol I had designed. The people were amazing, they were talking about the services and the organizations, newly available to the community in the tri-state area. And they played the song, that was going in and out, as they showed the visuals of these people, holding hands in various sections of New York.

And people started calling the studio, and they said, where can we get that soundtrack of "Come Out, Come Out"? Where can we get the song? So while the program they came to me in the studio and said, Nick, what do we tell them? And I thought for a second, and I said, give me five minutes. And I thought about this, and I thought, well, I know Craig (Rodwell) down in the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, on Christopher Street in the Village. Called him up and said, Craig, if I had a song, on record, would you be able to put it in your store, cause it's mostly books? And he said, I will, Nick, of course I will. So I called back, I went to the people live in the studio and said, please tell them that it will be available in a couple weeks at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore.

Anyhow, I called up the next day in Philadelphia, where I knew they pressed records, and found a manufacturing company that would press the records. And at the time, in 1976 it was all 45s, remember the 45 records. So they pressed, I think it was about 500, and we went to Craig, and got them there, and they started selling, people even calling the bookshop, asking for it. And although we didn't become millionaires, we paid for all the expenses of the recording studio, of the advertizing we had to do to get the performers, and pressing the records. And if I would come out even even I would be thrilled. Well, we did. And it was an amazing time, creatively and as a gay activist in New York, for me personally and for all the people that were connected with this project.

I want to again thank Nick Curto for that history, and the book store owner that Nick referred to was Craig Rodwell, a very noted gay activist, and they called the group on the 45 New Freedom. Here's "Come Out, Come Out."

New Freedom - Come Out Come Out (1976)

For the next song we're moving ahead eight years to 1984, and it's a local Houston recording. The theme for Lesbian & Gay Pride that year was "Unity and More in 1984" and local artist John Day released his own song by that title, and I can recall him performing it around town at that time. As far as I know it was his only recording. John Day and "Unity and More in 1984."

John Day - Unity and More in 1984 (1984)

Now, it's rare for me to play the same song on QMH more than once, and one of the reasons is that there's just so much music of our history that I want to cover, it's almost not fair to repeat a song. But this will mark the third time for this one, which should tell you how much I respect it. I played it on my very first Gay Pride show, in June of 2000. The artist is Jimmy Worm and I'm talking about his song "Stonewall." It came from his 1995 album "I Pledge," and this year he released a new CD, called "Last Chance," so it was the perfect chance to visit with him. I asked him this question, of what song that you've recorded are you the most proud?

Jimmy Worm Interview Comment (2006)

I think probably of all the songs that I've written the one that is the most meaningful when I listen to it is probably "Stonewall," just because is summarizes, in my mind, a lot of history. I think in that song for me something in embracing who those people were helps me in some way appreciate really how easy I have it right now, you know, I'm here in Seattle. I can walk down any street holding my boyfriend's hand, and I have really no worries at all, and I think back to where that started and how difficult it had to be to make those first moves. I don't know the song just…really what I wanted it to be was just a big thank you to those people who had to go through the really scary stuff for me to enjoy what I enjoy right now.

Jimmy Worm - Stonewall (1995)

From that same CD, please tell me about "I Pledge/Rainbow Striped Banner"

Jimmy Worm Interview Comment (2006)

I was driving with a friend of mine to the Columbia River Gorge, in Oregon, and we were just talking about politics, and I kind of jokingly said, I think we need a new Pledge of Allegiance, I'm really tired of ours. I think we need one that fits us better. And we just started playing around, as a joke, and the more I thought about it, I really starting enjoying it, and when I got home I started putting music to it, and it's kind of how I did the format of that CD, from that little idea that started out as a joke.

Jimmy Worm - I Pledge/The Rainbow Striped Banner (1996)

Jimmy Worm   Jimmy Worm  Jimmy Worm

Again, both of those songs were from Jimmy Worm's 1995 album "I Pledge." And bringing things up to date, I'm very pleased to share with you this next recording, as I think it's very inspirational. In 2002 in Seattle a chorus group was founded, and what made that notable is that it was the first Gay/Straight Alliance Youth Chorus. The called themselves Diverse Harmony and this song, though not released commercially, was performed by them in concerts and on television. It's called "Our World."

Diverse Harmony - Our World (2004)

One of the perks of doing a show like this is every so often I play a song from some obscure recording and then a while later I hear from the artist. That happened recently. A couple years ago I played a song by a New Mexico artist, Ted Fox, from his 1992 cassette called "One of Us." He recently sent me some additional older music and a brand new song, and I'm delighted to share them. But first let's go back and sample another song from his 1992 release. It's called "Sink or Swim," and of course I love how Out his lyrics are.

Ted Fox - Sink or Swim (1992)

A few years after his first recording, Ted and a couple friends formed a trio called Bophadem. Ted explained to me that the name, Bophadem, came from New York City slang. For example, I was talking to Tony and Louie and I says to bophadem. Anyway in 1997 they almost released a 3-song EP. I say almost because at the last minute arrangements broke down. That's unfortunate because the music was really good, as you can see in the song "I'm Ready."

Bophadem - I'm Ready (1997)

"I'm Ready" by Bophadem, from 1997. Moving to the present, Ted recently sent me a new recording and I was pleased to give it a world premier a few weeks ago on Queer Voices. His lyric writing is still as vital as it was in his first release fourteen years ago. Ted Fox and the song "Positive."

Ted Fox - Positive (2005)

This next music set will be very different, but then I warned you this would be that kind of show. I've been saving this song just so when I played it, I could say I was playing a recording that was one hundred years old. It was written by one of America's greatest songwriters, Jerome Kern, and he published it in 1904 and it was a hit the next year for a female singer. In 1906 an artist named Billy Murray recorded it and with a man singing it, well, it becomes quite gay. People didn't think twice about that in those days, but today, well, it belongs on my show. Remember this was taken from a hundred-year old 78 rpm recording. Billy Murray and "How'd You Like to Spoon With Me."

Billy Murray - How'd You Like to Spoon With Me (1906)
Jerry Jenkins & His Band of Angels - A Good Man Is Hard to Find (2000)
Jerry Jenkins & His Band of Angels - Johnny (2000)

You're probably wondering who on earth did we hear after Billy Murray? While it sounded like something from the 1940's or 1950's, especially with the Spike Jones inspired sound effects, it was really from the year 2000. The song "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" came from a German act called Jerry Jenkins & His Band of Angels and their self-titled album. My internet listeners also heard from that album the song "Johnny."

Also from Germany, from 1970, is a song with amazingly early gay lyrics. It's by Johnny Delgada and the title is "We Two, We Are Not Like the Others." And the picture sleeve for this 45 rpm record is amazingly erotic for a record cover, for 1970 or any year. You can see it on my webpage for this show and even though the lryics are in German, playing the song is worthwhile just to give me an excuse to show that cover.

Johnny Delgada - Wir Zwei, Wir Sind Nicht Wie Die Andern (1970)

Above, Johnny Delgada...real name: Johnny Bode; 1931 pic

Welcome to Part 2 of Songs I've Been Meaning To Play, a special expanded edition of Queer Music Heritage.

Will & Grace Theme Song Intro

Of course that's the theme song from "Will & Grace," and my tip of the hat to eight very good years of queer television. And this is a good time to remind you to visit my website. If you do so 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 Saturday night/Sunday morning from 1 to 4 am, on KPFT, it's Queer Radio, with attitude.

Will & Grace Theme Song Extro

How many of you knew that the actress who played Karen on "Will & Grace" could sing? She, being Megan Mullally, definitely can. And until Sean Hayes decides to come out, she is the only openly GLBT member of that cast. From her 2002 album "Big as a Berry," here's the song "Lonely at the Top."

Megan Mullally - Lonely at the Top (2002)

Up next is a gay artist who never released any recordings, but I sure wish he had. His name was Hank Baron. He grew up in New Jersey and in 1977 he was living in Philadelphia. On May 13, 1977, along with Casse Culver, he performed a benefit concert in Washington DC for a gay radio show on Pacifica station WPFW called "Friends." The show was recorded and I want to thank the folks at the Rainbow History Project in DC for providing me a copy and allowing me to air songs from it. The first song is called "Asking the Road," and speaks of the anguish of gay teenagers, and a second song, called "Ride 'Em, Cowboy," deals with the bar scene. Due to its lyrics, it's for my internet listeners only. Here's Hank Baron and unreleased music from 1977. Notice that he mentions Anita Bryant in his intro.

Hank Baron - Asking the Road (1977)
Hank Baron - Ride 'Em Cowboy (1977)

[in background, "The Wings" from the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack]

We're in the middle of kind of a country & western set, and of course gay cowboys really got into the public eye this year with the movie "Brokeback Mountain." Willie Nelson got some attention for contributing a song to the movie's soundtrack, but he got even more press when on Valentine's Day he released a song on iTunes with a decidedly more queer country theme. It was called "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other." Now, I've loved that song for years, as one of my favorite punk groups, Pansy Division, recorded it on their 1995 album, "Pile Up." And gay duo Rick and Andy had it on their CD from last year, "Going Places." Both of their versions were radio friendly, but not so for Willie Nelson's. And that got me to wonder what the original version was like. So I tracked down the song's writer, Ned Sublette, and he sent me his own very obscure recording of it. It's the way Willie did it, so it's also reserved for the internet version of my show. Sublette told me the song dates back to 1981, so it's had a long time to come to the surface. Here's the songwriter's version of the song: Ned Sublette and "Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other."

Ned Sublette - Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (1981)

Robert German

Another cowboy inspired song for my internet show is by a new artist, Robert German, and I think it's very sexy. It's brand new and is called "Marboro Man." I got to meet Robert this month and got him to tell me about the song.

Robert German interview quote.

"Marlboro Man" is a song that I wrote after ending a five-year relationship, which ended very badly, and it's sort of about trying to put yourself out there again and feeling very hurt from the relationship before, and not really being able to trust, or know whether you can trust someone.

How about the title?

The title, well, I want to say first off it has nothing to do with cigarettes (laughs). The title I think is just, it's sort of a cowboy song. I guess I chose Marlboro Man because it typifies a cowboy, this figure who could ride into town and be gone, you know, the next day, just ride off and sort of leave you. And so I thought that it was a good representation for me of this figure, this iconic figure, but also sort of symbolic to me of the guy that I was with, and, I don't know, just someone who can be detached emotionally and just kind of get on his horse and ride off.

Robert German - Marboro Man (2006)

Okay, one more x-rated queer country song from this year, this time by Jennifer Corday, although she just goes by her last name. Get ready for Corday and "Redneck Lesbo."

Corday - Redneck Lesbo (2006)

And here's two more country & western songs by lesbian artists from last year. From Canada Rae Spoon released an album I quite liked called "Your Trailer Door," and from it is the song "Don't Turn On Me."

Rae Spoon - Don't Turn on Me (2005)
Topp Twins - Country Music (2005)

And following Rae Spoon were some favorites of mine, the Topp Twins from New Zealand with the song "Country Music." That's from their latest album "Flowergirls & Cowgirls."

I've got a couple new artists to tell you about, both with debut albums last year and both living in New York City. First is Ron Morris and his very well produced album was called "Speak True." From it is the song "The Atmosphere Here."

Ron Morris - The Atmosphere Here (2005)

And I can't resist also playing a demo of a song Ron sent me, called "My Boyfriend's Back." In addition to giving me permission to play the track, he also gave me this comment about it.

Ron Morris interview quote.

This song is a demo of a new tune called "My Boyfriend's Back." This song is the closest I ever got to sampling, I think of it that way, because I get a nice little hook from an old classic song, and that little hook of "My Boyfriend's Back," the familiarity of it when you hear it, reminds me of that sort of magic of romance when you feel so comfortable with someone, they feel like an old song.

Ron Morris - My Boyfriend's Back (2005)

Another new artist I got to see a while back at an Open Mic sponsored by the Outmusic organization, in New York City. It was interesting to see him perform and then a couple years later hear his debut album. His name is Richard Cortez and by him is the song "Craving Something Beautiful."

Richard Cortez - Craving Something Beautiful (2005)

Very nice. That song, and the album it came from, is called "Craving Something Beautiful." It's by Richard Cortez and besides being a wonderful album to hear, the CD jacket has one of most sensual photos I've seen on an album in quite a while.

Richard Cortez

I'm continuing to jump all around the queer musical map. In 1998 Jeff Scott and Bill Fagan wrote a musical with a title that really caught my eye, "I Was a Teenage Homo," so of course I asked for a demo of the songs. It's taken all this time, but finally production of the show is being readied for next year in Los Angeles. Here's the synopsis: 1978. Small town boy, under control of local mad scientist, is transformed from angry young high school student into a flamboyant disco queen. Will the small town of Straightville USA accept him, or hunt him down? Sounds irresistible to me. Here's a preview of the title track, sung by Ralph Gorgolione. It's called "I Was a Teenage Homo."

Ralph Gorgolione - I Was a Teenage Homo (1998)

My next song is kind of a travelogue though gay Houston in the year 1988. Teresa wrote and recording this homage, named after the oldest gay bar in Texas, "Mary's Naturally." You'll hear the name of probably every gay and lesbian bar in the city at that time.

Teresa - Mary's Naturally (1988)

"Mary's Naturally." The bar by that name started in 1970 and the song, by Teresa, is from 1988.

Below is one of the famous murals that graced the side of Mary's
over the years, featuring some of the bar's noted staff and patrons

Mary's, Naturally

Well, you probably wouldn't expect me to play a song from 1973 by a teen pop duo, but this is no ordinary duo. They were known as The Williams Brothers and as 14-year-old twins they had the look and sound, and family connections to get some attention. Their father was a Hollywood manager and their uncle was Andy Williams. From 1973 here's their version of the song "Secretly"

Andy & David Williams

Williams Brothers - Secretly (1973)

I picked that particular song by them with some degree of irony. Flash forward to 1987 and the career of the Williams Brothers picked up again with the first of three albums for Warner Brothers. Their last album, in 1993, was called "Harmony Hotel." Okay, what's the gay connection? You know there's got to be one. Well, the Williams Brothers are Andy and David, and in 1994 in an interview in The Advocate David Williams came out. As I mentioned, their 1993 album was called "Harmony Hotel," and I just love the AIDS-related song from it called "Don't Look Now."

Williams Brothers - Don't Look Now (1993)

The Williams Brothers.

The Williams Brothers

I'm down to the last song, and it's one I've been meaning to play for quite some time, but before I get to it, I want to thank you all for tuning into the show. I always enjoy doing one of these shows, as I get to share so many songs I've been meaning to play. And my internet listeners get to hear a much expanded version, which includes many more songs, including some that due to lyrical content are just not ready for regular radio.

If you enjoyed this show, you'll want to know that I'm doing another chapter of it in August, sort of a part two of Songs I've Been Meaning to Play. I'll tell you why I'm skipping July in a moment.

If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. And please check out my website, logically enough, at www.queermusicheritage.com, where you can see photos of the artists and recordings I've played tonight. 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. On that show I'll salute the winners of the Outmusic Awards, held in New York City earlier this month.

Now, onto the last song. It's by one of our superstars and it has extra appeal to me as a collector because it's never been released by her in any form as an audio recording. It's from the wonderful 1996 documentary film "Celluloid Closet," and was used under the closing credits. Here's kd lang and her terrific version of "Secret Love."

kd lang - Secret Love (1996)

kd lang