December 2009 Script
Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio - Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear (1993)
You probably already know that song is called "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear" and was one of the concoctions cooked up by Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio. It's from their 1993 CD "I Am Santa Claus." And I am JD Doyle, welcoming you to my Queer Xmas Special, part of Queer Music Heritage, heard on Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston. Yes, this will be very queer. And this is not just any December show. You see, next month is my tenth anniversary of QMH, and accordingly this month is my 10th anniversary doing xmas shows. So I decided to make the first hour sort of a Best of Queer Music Heritage Xmas. I figure over the years I've played close to 500 different holiday songs, either by GLBT artists or having a gay connection lyrically.
Picking only the roughly 15 songs to make this show was therefore quite a challenge, and of course very subjective. But these are all old favorites of mine and I hope yours. Now, this applies for just the first hour of the show. You can find on my website more gay-related xmas music, including brand new material. And that includes one song recorded especially at my request. All that's on my site at www.queermusicheritage.com, but let's get started with more music.
And here is one of the best. In my opinion, when you're considering not isolated songs, but a queer Christmas album taken as a whole, this may be the very best one. Here's the title track from the 1995 album by Venus Envy, "I'll Be a Homo For Christmas."
Envy - I'll Be a Homo For Christmas (1995)
Of course that was Cris Williamson, and "Greetings of the Season," which was the opening track from her 1985 album "Snow Angel," released on Olivia Records. She released a new holiday album last year, but for this show I had to go back to her classic one.
Majority - It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (1981)
Lots of history there. Around 1981 Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority was perhaps at its loudest and a choral group in San Francisco was formed in protest. They called themselves the Choral Majority and their goals were to celebrate the gay community while at the same time challenging audiences and informing them of issues, all to the tune of a church choir. So "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" was one of the 28 parodies found on the very rare cassette tape they released, called "The Choral Majority's Greatest Hits."
And from the other side of the world, following basically the same path was the Gay Liberation Quire of Sydney, Australia. And they spelled Quire, q-u-i-r-e. That group was also formed in 1981, and over the next six years was very active in the gay movement in Australia. In 1983 they released an EP single called "The Gay Liberation Quire Goes Down On Vinyl." It contained the two songs you heard, "God Help You Merry Dykes and Poofs" and "Hark the Herald Fairies Shout."
This next song is not from a xmas album, but the song's story takes place at Christmastime. It's from an artist I much admire, Brady Earnhart, from a 2003 album he named after a South Carolina island, "Manalapan." The song is "Honey Don't Think Your Mama Don't Know."
Earnhart - Honey Don't Think Your Mama Don't Know (2003)
And after Brady Earnhart was another song that did not come from a holiday album, "Doesn't Seem Like Christmas." It's from the only recording by Dennis Hensley, an excellent album from 1999 called "The Water's Fine."
Want to pick up the beat? Well, here's a classic song to do it, done by our favorite drag queen, RuPaul. In 1997 she released a totally classic recording, called "Ho Ho Ho," and it has lots of gems but the one I keep going back to is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Drag Queen."
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Drag Queen (1997)
No, that was not the Village People, doing Christmas takes on "Macho Man" and "N.O.E.L." That was a group of singers calling themselves Holiday Express. According to their site, they are an all-volunteer nonsectarian organization that raises funds for various charity groups, including people living with AIDS. And I've no idea if the members are gay, but that recording was so superb I could not resist it. And that applies as well to this next song. Again, I do not know if the singers are gay, but they are doing a wonderful parody of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." And it took two groups to pull it off. The instrumental group Pledge Drive was joined in 2003 by an a cappella group called One of Each. I think this is amazing work. Christmas Rhapsody.
Drive and One of Each - Christmas Rhapsody (2003)
I'm sure you noticed and figured out the missing word there. "Homo Christmas" by Pansy Division is one of my very favorite queer Christmas songs, and I really wish I could play an unedited version on the broadcast edition of this show, but no, better not. So this is a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings, because I believe our music history is a visual as well as an audial experience. You know, I collect gay and lesbian related Xmas music all year, and it seems like this was another banner year, as I found enough new material, songs I've never played before, to give you another two hours of programming. So, having no willpower at all, that's what I did. You can find those segments 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.
I know I said at the start of the show that the songs I'd play would be the best of past xmas shows, but I'm going to slip in one I've never played before, and I think I have a good reason for including it now. Next month on my show I celebrate the 10th Anniversary of QMH, and I wanted that show to be extra special, so I will have for you an interview with Holly Near, one of the most iconic founders of the Women's Music Movement. Knowing I would do the actual interview prior to this show I asked her about a recording she did with Brian Lane Green, that appeared on the 1993 various artists album "Cabaret Noel: A Broadway Cares Christmas." I asked her to tell me about her recording of "O Holy Night."
Holly Near comments (2009)
There's a wonderful singer, Brian Green, who has a career on Broadway, as well as works in a show called Three Men and a Baby Grand is also now doing, I think there's a series out of Three Tenors who are doing Broadway, sort of picking up on the Three Tenors thing. So he's got quite a career out there and he's a dear friend of mine, and we began working on that song, and it just soared, just amazing. And so we recorded it for Broadway Cares. They were putting out a holiday record. I love singing with him. There's something about our voices that just hook up really nicely together.
What she didn't add is that she modified the lyrics, to be more in line with one of her life-long philosophies. Notice that the song now says to "rise from our knees and hear the people's voices to let peace be born."
Holly Near & Brian Lane Green - O Holy Night (1993)
Again, that was Holly Near and Brian Lane Green. Brian has released several solo albums that I think are excellent. And from that same Broadway Cares album comes another song I love. It's by BD Wong, who you probably know more as a Broadway and television actor. Here he's doing the song "Wishing You a Drag Queen Christmas."
BD Wong - Wishing You
a Drag Queen Christmas (1993)
And also from 1993, I wanted to pull a song from the soundtrack from the AIDS musical "All That He Was." The vocalists Gary Imhoff and Robert Patteri did a very touching job on the song "Our First Christmas."
I've got to include some "Christmas Blues," and that's the name of this song by Martin Swinger. It's from his 1998 album "Scrapbook" and also on one by him from 2000 called "BearNaked," with bear spelled b-e-a-r.
Martin Swinger - Christmas Blues (1998)
This went way, way too fast, but we're down to the end and I want to thank you all for tuning in, and if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, you can write to me. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston. And please come back next month for my tenth anniversary show and an interview with Holly Near. And again, you can find additional hours of this show on my website, at www.queermusicheritage.com.
Okay, we're up to the closing song, and I've made it a QMH tradition. It's by one of our culture's most talented female impersonators, Jimmy James. On my December shows I've played it more than any other song. From the album "Have Yourself a Jimmy James Merry Christmas," from 2002, you won't forget her version of "Feliz Navidad."
Jimmy James - Feliz Navidad (2002)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Part 2 of my 2009 Queer Xmas Special, here on Queer Music Heritage. I started off with an artist I much respect, Daniel Cartier, because he has a brand new CD for this year, called "This Christmas" and that was the title track. And I have one more song from that album to share with you. It's called "I've Been Good All Year," and I bet he's good. And the artist following Daniel will be Adam Joseph.
Cartier - I've Been Good All Year (2009)
I thank Adam Joseph
for sending me that song in time for this show. It's brand new
Michaels - Holidays (2006)
Of course that was Melissa Etheridge, and last year she released what I consider one of the very best holiday albums by a GLBT artist, and it was called "A New Thought for Christmas." I even singled it out on my Best of 2009 show last January. During my xmas show last year I played several tracks from it, but did not get around to that classic, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
And here's an unexpected treat. For many years I've been a huge fan of the music of Ari Gold, and as far as I knew he had never recorded a Christmas song. Well now I have one, and he's agreed that I can air it on my show, but wanted me to mention that it was only recorded as a demo, which he did a few years ago as a favor for the song's writer. Here's Ari Gold and "The Christmas Wish."
Ari Gold - The Christmas Wish (circa 2006)
Up next is a New Zealand act I really like, and one of my favorite songs of theirs is called "Just Another Highway." Now, the version I'm using is a special Christmas version they performed live. Here are the Topp Twins.
Twins - Just Another Highway (2008)
This next artist, Gregory Douglass, released his first holiday recording this year, an EP called "Merry." It contains a cover of the George Michael song "Last Christmas." Now, it's not hard to find cover versions of that song. I have number of them, just by gay artists, and they usually take on a dance feel. But I'm especially impressed with Greg's version. Gregory Douglass and "Last Christmas."
Douglass - Last Christmas (2009)
That was another song from "Merry," the Gregory Douglass EP, this time one he wrote, called "What a Long Year It Was." And I can't believe I've never played this next track. In 1988 the band Erasure released its 6-song EP CD called "Crackers International," and in conjunction with that release they put out a 3" CD that's right, a 3" CD by the same name, and that's the only place you can find their version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1988)
From the excellent all GLBT various artists compilation "Winter Moon," that was Lea DeLaria and "The Truth About Christmas," from 1995. Other artists appearing on that CD are Cris Williamson, Michael Callen, Tom McCormack, Holly Near, Lucie Blue Tremblay, Ann Reed, and among others, Arnold McCuller, who you'll hear next. But I need to set up the song. First, you may not recognize the name Arnold McCuller, but you've heard his voice, thousands of times. He's been on the recordings of a who's who of the music industry, including Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Bette Midler, Lionel Ritchie, and on and on. Now, last April when I interviewed songwriter John Bucchino I covered many many of his songs, but I saved this one for now. I asked John if he's written any Christmas songs.
John Bucchino comments (2009)
Yes, I wrote one called "A Mama Like Mine," which I bet you know. [oh, that's on the "Winter Moon" album] It is, and that was because my friend Billy Porter was doing a cabaret performance at Christmas time, a Christmas show, and his mom was coming in from...I think it was somewhere in Ohio, Cleveland or Cincinnati or something for the show. And he asked me, would write me a Christmas song that I could sing to my mom? And I was like, I don't know, and a couple of days later it just popped out.
Unfortunately Billy Porter has never recorded the song, but Arnold McCuller did. Here's "A Mama Like Mine."
McCuller - A Mama Like Mine (1995)
And from Casey Stratton's holiday album that was the title track "Icicles."
I love it when artists send me their unreleased xmas songs, and another one to do that this year was D.C. Anderson. His song is from 2006, and is called "Secret Santa"
DC Anderson - Secret
That was Kevin Koelbl, and the title track from his new CD "This Is Christmas Time." And, some of you may know of the prolific artist Michelle Malone. Well, years before she started releasing albums under her name she was lead singer for a band called Drag the River. In 1991 they released a promo CD single with a version of the Kinks song "Father Christmas."
Drag the River &
Michelle Malone - Father Christmas (1991)
After "Father Christmas" was another Michelle Malone song, with her doing the classic "Please Come Home for Christmas," recorded live in 1992, but not released until 2000, on a CD called "A Swingin' Christmas in the Attic." It was named that because it was recorded at a well-known club in Decatur, Georgia, called Eddie's Attic. And remember vinyl, as in 45rpm records, well in 1999 the band Luscious Jackson expanded their very popular Gap TV commercial into a full-length record, and issued it on a 45. I'm using that song to close Part 2, but you'll want to be sure and continue with this adventure on Part 3, if only to hear the sort of naughty song opening that segment. This is JD Doyle and the middle part of my Queer Xmas Special, sharing with you Luscious Jackson and "Let It Snow, Let It Snow."
Luscious Jackson - Let It Snow, Let It Snow (1999)
Ernie Lijoi - All I Want for Christmas Is You (2002)
Ah, I especially loved the line "I've been waiting here for weeks among the gay décor, to kiss your rosy cheeks, all four." Welcome to Part 3 of my Queer Music Heritage Queer Xmas Special, and I think that was a very cool way to start off. The song was written and sung by Ernie Lijoi, and that was actually a demo. The only official recording of it was by the a cappela group Mystery Date, when they sang the song in concert at Carnegie Hall in 2002, as guests of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus. That version I played on my 2003 xmas show, but I didn't know about the demo by Ernie until I thought to check his website. There's a lot of research that goes into putting together these shows. You have no idea. But here's an idea, please enjoy these next two very talented artists.
Steve Cohen - The Christmas
Okay, first that was Steve Cohen and I think a very nice version of "The Christmas Song." That's from 2008, and these days he's been releasing most of his music under the name Elton Costello. After Steve was Jay Brannan, and an mp3 he just released, called "Christmas Really Sucks This Year." Now, yes, I know I played that song on my show last year, but at that time the only version I could find was from a youtube video he posted. Now I've got a studio recording to share with you, so could not resist a replay.
And here's another song sent to me and I'm pleased to say the artist recorded it especially at my request. I had recently received the latest CD by an artist going by the name Soce the Elemental Wizard, and on a whim I asked him if he had any xmas songs. I had no reason to suspect he did, but indeed there was one he said he had been performing but had not yet recorded. Okay, nudge nudge, and a couple weeks later I had the song, and now you can hear it, a Queer Music Heritage exclusive. It's his updating of "Winter Wonderland." Now you may think you know where this song is going, but you don't.
Soce the Elemental Wizard - Winter Wonderland (2009)
And that was Soce the Elemental Wizard. By the way you may want to check out his new album, called "Master of Arts."
For you cabaret fans, it's hard to do better than Michael Feinstein, and you pretty much have to be a die-hard fan to know that he recorded a Christmas album, and actually it was a two-disc recording that was a very limited release, called "An Intimate Holiday with Michael Feinstein." For as rare as it seems to be I'm thinking it may have been a fan club only release. Anyway, it was full of the songs you would expect, but I chose one called "If I Hear Another Song About Christmas."
Michael Feinstein -
If I Hear Another Song About Christmas (2001)
That version of "Ring Christmas Bells" was from 2004 and was by Gloria, Ireland's Gay & Lesbian Choir. I chose that to open this tribute to an openly gay Irish singer who sadly passed away last October, at age 33. I'm talking about Steven Gately, a member of the very popular UK group Boyzone. Very few boy band members are out of the closet, and he was openly so, since 1999, even entering into a civil partnership with Andrew Cowles, in London, in 2006.
Keating & Steven Gately - Little Drummer Boy (2009)
Definitely gone too soon, Steven Gately. And I've been saving this one for you, from 2008 here's Dudley Saunders beautiful version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear."
Dudley Saunders - It
Came Upon a Midnight Clear (2008)
After Dudley Saunders was another demo track by Ernie Lijoi, the artist who started off this segment. And now for a couple really offbeat items, starting with the song from the movie trailer for the new film "Lesbian Vampire Killers." No, I'm not making that up. It will be followed by Lizzy the Lezzy.
Vampire Killers movie promo - Hark (2009)
Ah yes, you can see why I didn't play that on the broadcast version, on Part 1. That was from the album "Lizzy the Lezzy," and Lizzy is the animated creation of Ruth Sewlyn, whose cartoon snippets have been seen by countless youtube fans. Many of the songs were captured in a 2007 CD.
And after hearing that, this would probably be as good of a time as any to play this next song. In London between the years 2003 and 2006 there was a do-it-yourself indypunk label called Homocrime. It billed itself as being for queers of all genders & sexualities, and they released a slew of songs, all of which are now available on their site as free downloads. In 2003 they released a CD compilation called "Ho Ho Homocrime" and starting it off was an act calling itself, are you ready, The Firmturds. It's about as an explicit of a xmas song as you might find, including lyrics describing the singer seeing "the most heavenly boy in the whole of New Castle, my thoughts turned to his asshole..." Oh, I cannot do this song justice, just listen to the song "Oh Well Noel."
The Firmturds - Oh Well Noel (2003)
This fall a new gay movie was released on DVD, called "Make the Yuletide Gay," which I bought and for the most part enjoyed. I hedge on that description because its two young male stars were very cute and quite adorable, but the script in places could have used some work. Many of the double entendre jokes just hit you over the head too hard and I would have appreciated a lighter touch. But one aspect that surprised me was how good the soundtrack was, with original songs mostly written and sung by an artist new to me, Jake Monaco. Well, shy programmer that I am, I found him on facebook and asked if he is gay, explaining that my programming is solely for the work of GLBT artists. My hunch was right and he wrote back that he is quite openly gay, and glad I liked his music. So, from that soundtrack I'm bringing you these three tracks.
Monaco - Gloria (2009)
Again, that was Jake Monaco, along with his writing partner Jen Hansen, doing the songs "Gloria," "Waited So Long," and "It's Christmas Time," all from the new movie "Make the Yuletide Gay."
And here's a new
song by a UK duo who called themselves Humousexual. The song
Humousexual - Come Take My Hand In Winter (2005)
Also on the CherryAde Records xmas compilations is an English queer act called Fever Fever, comprised of Rosie, Smit and Ellie. They bring us a couple punkish holiday songs.
Fever - Hallelujah Carol (2008)
Yes, that was Fever Fever, who seemed to have had fun recording "Hallelujah Carol" and "Little Drummer Boy." And another UK band, this time from Brighton are the Blue Minkies, and they have also had songs on the CherryAde releases. Here are their two holiday songs, "Christmas Means Nothing Without Presents" and "Blue Christmas."
Minkies - Christmas Means Nothing Without Presents (2005)
Up next is New York artist David Brown. He recorded a few holiday songs in 2006 just to pass out to friends, with no intention of releasing them. So I thank him for sending me "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
David Brown - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (2006)
Another artist friend of mine is Roger Kuhn, who seems to come out with more holiday songs each year. I thank him for sending me his latest, called "I Heard There Was a Star." Roger Kuhn.
Roger Kuhn - I Heard
There Was a Star (2009)
That was Jill Sobule, and a few years ago she released a couple christmas EPs, sold only from her website. The one from 2005 called "It's the Thought That Counts" contained that holiday classic "Christmas Time Is Here."
We're down to the end of my three-hour 2009 Queer Xmas Special, and I much appreciate you joining me. Since I've been working hard on my interview with Holly Near for my January show, I thought it would be appropriate to close with one of the very few holiday songs recorded by her. You heard one of them on Part 1, and the other is from her 1997 album, "With a Song In My Heart, which she did with John Bucchino. He plays piano beautifully to her recording of that album of standards, including the perfect closing song, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve."
Holly Near - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve (1997)