Charlie Murphy - Gay Spirit (1979)
This is JD Doyle, bringing you I think a very special Queer Music Heritage show. It's the 15th anniversary of QMH, which is kind of hard for me to believe. So, for my QMH anniversary I am doing something I have never done, a show focusing not on our music history, but on my favorite songs, and they will span over eighty years. I started off with "Gay Spirit" by Charlie Murphy for a reason. Not only do I love it, but I used it to open each monthly edition for almost the first three years I produced the show. Also, I consider it iconic, as it's part of the landmark LP "Walls to Roses."
Okay, you're asking...how did I pick these songs....with my huge record collection and 15 years of programming, how on earth did I narrow it down to this three hour show of 42 songs? Not an easy thing, but we all have songs that just connected with us, without regard to whether the song was popular or not. So, very subjectively, I went through every playlist on my website, did an excel spreadsheet and this show is the result. I was able to pretty much decide that my favorite artist was Michael Callen, no surprise there. He is known for his pioneering work with AIDS activism, his singing with the group The Flirtations, and his gorgeous voice. He makes the show more than once, and here's the first one, from 1995 and written with Marsha Malamet and Peter Allen, "Love Don't Need a Reason."
Callen - Love Don't Need a Reason (1995)
That's another voice I just love, Therese Edell from her 1977 album "From Woman's Faces," doing the Alix Dobkin song "A Woman's Love." That album has several other songs I could have picked just as easily, and that will happen with a number of artists who put out extraordinary releases, like Mark Weigle. His entire catalog from 1998 to 2007 was just incredible, so I chose to represent him two of my favorites. From his first CD "The Truth Is" is the song "Two Cowboy Waltz," and from 2002 from the album "Out of the Loop" is "In the Last Five Minutes."
Weigle - Two Cowboy Waltz (1998)
Following Mark Weigle was Sid Spencer who had just about my favorite country voice. Sadly, he died of AIDS in 1996, and I much regret the terrific music he did not get a chance to create.
This next song, from 1999, grabbed me immediately, as it spoke about being young and queer. Meg Hentges was in the band Two Nice Girls in the early 90s, but from her later solo CD from 1999 was "This Kind of Love."
Hentges - This Kind of Love (1999)
There was a handful for you. After Meg Hentges Eric Himan gave us "Bartender," from 2006, followed by a Boy George song some of you may not know. "Unfinished Business" was from his wonderful 1995 album "Cheapness and Beauty." Finally, some transgender lyrics, in the form of "Daughterson," a 2010 track by the group Coyote Grace.
I've got two by the next artist, and he's an Israeli singer named Ivri Lider. In 2007 he came out with an infectious video, named "Jesse," that I just played over and over, and the same year he was in a film called "The Bubble," where he performed the Gershwin classic "The Man I Love," which I found utterly charming.
Ivri Lider - Jesse / The Man I Love (2007)
This next song is gorgeous, and oh so sad, as it was written during the AIDS crisis by Janis Ian. The lyrics do not directly talk about the disease but she told me she wrote it partially in response to those saying AIDS was God's punishment on gay men. It's from the wonderful various artists compilation "A Love Worth Fighting For," from 1995. Here's "When Angels Cry."
Janis Ian - When Angels Cry (1995)
This is JD Doyle for Queer Music Heritage and we're ready to finish Part 1 of my special show, called simply "My Favorite Songs," and there are two more hours to go, so stick with me.
"Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat is a classic dance track, but it was also very important as the video for it came out in 1984, at the start of MTV's wave of influence, and for the first time in that context gay people to see the gay lyrics evoked on the screen. I know more than one person who said that song and video moved them to come out. And I use the intro as the ringtone on my phone. Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat, and "Smalltown Boy."
Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy (1984)
I just love that song and it's among our most historic. Ma Rainey recorded it in 1928 and it's the lyrically gay, or rather, lyrically lesbian classic, "Prove It On Me Blues." This is JD Doyle with Part 2 of "My Favorite Songs," celebrating the 15th anniversary of Queer Music Heritage.
And keeping things historic, another of the anthems I love was by the Tom Robinson Band, in 1978, and of course that was "Glad to Be Gay." I'm going to play a very special version of that one though, and I'm the only one who has it, as he sang it for me after I interviewed him in 2004. What makes it more special is that it's only recorded version with a verse about Matthew Shepard.
Robinson - Glad To Be Gay (2004)
A set from the UK. After Tom Robinson I played one probably very few have even heard, but as this is Queer Music Heritage how could I not love a song called "I Love To Be Queer." That was from 2000 by a duo going by Sponge Finger. Then came one that was actually a hit, when the Pet Shop Boys included Dusty Springfield in their song "What Have I Done to Deserve This." Lastly the boys produced her dance hit "In Private." That always takes me back to 1989 and the Houston gay bar The Venture'N. My favorite DJ there knew I loved it and put it on whenever he saw me come in the club.
I found this next track on the old myspace page for Nashville singer songwriter Shane Mack, though the song has never been released, and that was not his real name. Also I couldn't play the song for awhile as he wasn't out of the closet, but he is now. Shane McAnally is now definitely out and proud and quite successful as a songwriter with #1 country hits, for folks including Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and a new artist making some noise, Kacey Musgraves, with her #1 album "Same Trailer, Different Park." Many of the tracks were co-written by Shane McAnally, along with openly lesbian songwriter Brandy Clark, and Musgraves says that for her song "Follow Your Arrow," it was definitely Shane's influence that got included into the song the line, "make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that's what you're into." Now that's something you don't expect in a mainstream country song. Here's a short clip of it.
Kasey Musgraves - Follow Your Arrow (2013)
And that song was just named Song of the Year at the CMA Awards, very cool. But, back to the one that caught my attention. I just couldn't get over how clever the lyrics were to "Hurt You Like Me."
McAnally - Hurt You Like Me (2007)
Brady Earnhart just gave us "Honey Don't Think Your Mama Don't Know," from his 2003 release "Manalapan," which at the time stayed in my car CD player for quite a while.
My listeners know I loves me some Broadway music, and two songs of that ilk made this list. The first is from the 2007 show called "Bare the Musical," and in this song our two high school heroes are singing about their very secret romance. The song is called "You & I," and on vocals are James Snyder and Matt Doyle.
Bare the Musical - You & I (2007)
And for my other Broadway pick I'm going to "I Know Him So Well," from Chess. The original was done masterfully in 1985 by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson. But when a male on male cover version came out I just loved it. Better yet it was done by John Barrowman and Daniel Boys. And I admit I've sung along to this many times in the car, taking one or both of their parts. It's not pretty. Here's John and Daniel, and "I Know Him So Well."
Barrowman & Daniel Boys - I Know Him So Well (2008)
That was called "Freer," by UK singer and actor Declan Bennett, and I love his work. That song was from his 2011 CD "Record Breakup," but I could have just as easily picked one from his other albums. I got to see him in Austin at SXSW in 2012. In fact he was the reason I made the trip, as I figured it would be my only chance to see him live, and lately it has been, as he's been quite busy on Broadway and in the UK appearing in musicals.
I'm staying in the UK for the song "Something Inside So Strong," an anthem that's been performed by many gay & lesbian choruses around the world. Most people here if they know the song may know it as by the Flirtations, and I love that version, but I want to give due to the version by the man who wrote it, Labi Siffre.
Siffre - Something Inside So Strong (1987)
This has turned into a set of our anthems, and that one was "Everything Possible," the masterpiece written by Fred Small, and performed by The Flirtations, including Michael Callen. This is JD Doyle and I'm also finishing up Part 2 with Michael, and a song he co-wrote with Marsha Malamet. It's from a double CD called "Legacy," which I think is an essential album for any LGBT music collection. The song is "Healing Power of Love," and I recently was asked to write about the song. I replied by saying the song "has AIDS as its unspoken stage, reaching out with love and for love, with strength and for strength...to survive."
Michael Callen - Healing Power of Love (1996)
I love that song. It's from 1928 and of course was not intended at all be a gay song. Back then publishers had total control over lyrics and singers could not change the pronouns, at all. So they just sang the songs the way they were, and the public didn't give it much thought. But now we do, so I am able to give you the very hetero Bing Crosby telling us there "Ain't No Man Worth the Salt of My Tears." And this is JD Doyle welcoming you to the third and last part of my special 15th anniversary show. On it, as you already know, I'm devoting it to My Favorite Songs.
And I'm going to change the pace totally, with the newest song on the show, from last year. UK artist Matt Fishel didn't have any trouble working his way into my favorites list as I love his lyrically gay pop songs. I'd been following him for about six years, as he gradually released singles from his eventual 2013 album, called "Not Thinking Straight," and even got him to promise me the first interview upon its release. That's my April OutRadio show. I could have picked several of his delightful songs but settled on "Radio-Friendly Pop Song."
Fishel - Radio-Friendly Pop Song (2013)
My favorite punk group Pansy Division, singing "Homo Christmas," and I could not resist using a Casey Kasem introduction for the track. Jon Ginoli led that band through its many releases starting in 1990. They seemed to specialize in delightful and naughty songs that could not be played on the radio. "Homo Christmas" came from their "Pile Up" album in 1995.
Here's a duo that, in my opinion, recorded the soundtrack of our culture, Romanovsky & Phillips. From 1983 to 1994 and eight CDs they sang about so, so many aspects of our lives, sometimes making fun of ourselves, sometimes political and sometimes somber. I picked one of their first, "The Prince Charming Tango," from 1984. First, I'll let them introduce themselves.
& Phillips - Prince Charming Tango (1984)
After Ron & Paul I played Sonia, who also sometimes records as Sonia & Disappear Fear. Whichever way you find her the music it is always terrific, and she's another case where picking one song was difficult, so I'm letting "Fallin'," from her 1998 CD "Almost Chocolate," represent her work. Then I went to a classic of lesbian music, "Ain't Life a Brook," by Ferron, from a very early album by her, "Testimony," from 1980.
I'm sharing two songs by this next artist and he'll probably shake his head at my including one of them, as it only came out as a demo. But the lyrics to me really connected. I could imagine myself back as a teenager deep in the closet, knowing I was gay, and just wishing for someone gay to talk with, and hearing the rumors that a neighbor, an older man, might be gay. The older man of course had his own fears, and could not afford to reach out to a teenager. Here's Steve Cohen, singing about "Mr Wilson."
Cohen - Mr Wilson (1995)
The song "Mr Wilson" was from 1995, and when Steve Cohen did release his debut CD two years later, it was, I think, a masterpiece, and I consider it another essential CD in your LGBT music collection. You heard the title track "Silent Too Long."
In 1994 Jesse Hultberg released a self-titled CD, and it is a favorite as I love his style, his voice and his out-of-the-closet lyrics. And while I marvel at his own songs, I keep playing over and over a cover version from that album. I think he did a gorgeous job on the Bee Gees song "If I Can't Have You."
Hultberg - If I Can't Have You (1994)
Anthony Rapp had the great blessing of being chosen for the original Broadway cast of "Rent," and has done some other wonderful work, singing and acting. But in 2000 he put out a solo album I just loved, especially for the track in the middle you just heard, the matter-of-fact lyrically gay song "Just Some Guy." And after that I played the title track from I think an amazing CD, "American Hotel," by Ezra Axelrod, from 2012. From track to track it's so consistently excellent it's a marvel.
I want you to pay attention to this next song and its craftsmanship, as it goes from something simple to something you may not have expected. I think it's Martin Swinger's masterpiece, and it's called "Little Plastic Part."
Martin Swinger - Little Plastic Part (2011)
"Stained Glass Window" was the first song I heard Levi Kreis sing, and it was live, in L.A., during a performance of the play "Southern Baptist Sissies." That was in 2002 and it finally got recorded in 2009.
Levi Kreis - Stained Glass Windows (2009)
I've got two more to go, and they are both anthems, in their own way. And this next one had a huge impact, in fostering understanding and in reaching audiences perhaps untapped for this message. I've called it the most important LGBT song in recent years, and it's by a straight artist. Rapper Macklemore and his producer Ryan Lewis enlisted lesbian newcomer Mary Lambert and the result was, well, fantastic. Here is "Same Love."
Macklemore & Lewis, with Mary Lambert (2012)
This is JD Doyle that I'm wrapping up my three-hour indulgence of playing My Favorite Songs, and I tell you, I had trouble stopping at three hours. I have to end with the voice that makes me melt, Michael Callen. This song was also on the CD named "Legacy," and is called "A Love Worth Fighting For."
Michael Callen - A Love Worth Fighting For (1995)