Saturday, August 02, 2003

Gay rock

A million cable channels and I'm on Music Choice? The "Power Rock" station just got through playing something by Queen, and now it's "Nobody's Hero" by Rush. They're begging for a post.

Not being a student of gay culture, I only occasionally pick up on gay performers or themes in music. I don't look for either for sure, and it really makes no difference as long as everyone can leave everyone else alone (which means keep your cotton-pickin' hands off the institution of marriage, but that's another post). So there's no telling what has escaped my notice.

When a band names itself Queen, well, you have to wonder why. And in fact their lead singer Freddy Mercury died of AIDS some years back. Dying of AIDS doesn't mean you're gay, but there wasn't much doubt about Freddie. Whether any of the rest of them were gay I don't know, and I did follow them to an extent. Guitarist Brian May in particular - did interesting things with guitars and was into astronomy.

If Rod Stewart was gay, it sure was a waste of fine women when he married Alana Hamilton and Rachel Hunter. I only mention him because of his song "The Killing of Georgie", which got a little airplay when I was in college.

We can't forget the Kinks and "Lola".

I usually avoided synthy dance music, which was most of what I recall hearing from George Michael. How romantic, sneaking off somewhere in a park to have sex with someone you love.

Oh yeah, Judas Priest. I wasn't exactly shocked to hear that lead singer Rob Halford was gay, but I'm suspecting many others were. He couldn't be - he sang heavy metal! Ha, they're playing a Priest song now.

Look what I found on the Halford link - a book:
Rock on the Wild Side : Gay Male Images in Popular Music of the Rock Era by Wayne Studer
What #1 hit by Elvis Presley contained a blatant suggestion of male-male sex--way back in 1957? Which Beatles songs allude to homosexuality? Can you name two Top 20 hits about drag queens? What smash from 1974 has been called "the greatest gay love song ever written?" Which popular rock songs are tainted by homophobia? Which country songs refer to gay people? And who are some of the openly gay performers who've succeeded in the world of rock music?

The answers to these and countless other fascinating questions can be found in Rock on the Wild Side, an entertaining and informative look at more than 200 songs of the "Rock Era" that describe gay men or express various attitude about gayness. Your record, tape or CD collection may never sound quite the same again. Illustrated with more than two dozen photos of such stars/groups as Boy George, David Bowie, Elton John, Kinks, Kitchens of Distinction, Johnny Mathis, Queen, Lou Reed, Tom Robinson, Romanovsky & Phillips, Rupaul, Village People, Tom Wilson Weinberg, Flirtations, Pet Shop Boys...
I haven't heard of all of them, but the rest aren't surprises.

We can't forget the women of course. Everybody has heard of Melissa Etheridge. Somehow I'd like to dislike KD LANG, but she sure can sing. I don't know about the Indigo Girls.

Lookie here - people trying to ban t. A. T. u. in the UK and in NZ. I'm guessing that what busts them isn't whether they are lesbians or not, but the fact that making out onstage in their underwear seems to be pretty much their whole act. IE they're promoting something besides their music.

The list of successful gay musicians could go on forever. From this it's pretty clear that gays can succeed anywhere in the music business. I for one couldn't give a fat rat's patootie about the musician's private life if they don't make it an issue themselves.

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