Today is the birthday of Bananarama’s Siobhan Fahey. A handful of the group’s tracks are included on today’s playlist.
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Today’s Pride playlist focuses on music from the 1970s. After making it I noticed it was light on the ladies. More women will turn up as this series goes on. Here’s what you’ll hear on today’s playlist:
“Lola” – The Kinks
“I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man and so is Lola.” You can interpret this line as meaning that I’m glad I’m a man and Lola is also glad that I’m a man, though if you consider the earlier line “I’m not dumb, but I can’t understand why she walked like a woman but talked like a man” you’ll realize that Lola is also a man. A man who made the top ten in 1970 and makes her presence known to this day.
“Rocket Man (I Think It’s Gonna be A Long, Long Time)” – Elton John
Of course this playlist needs some Elton John. I recall reading an essay about “Rocket Man” some years ago where the author posits this song’s lyrics are about a gay man. A man who is leaving his wife and children to live his life though loneliness that will surround him, at least initially. A man who is “not the man they think I am back home.” And then there’s the phallic imagery of a rocket. That’s part of this writer’s essay. Lyricist Bernie Taupin has never acknowledged this theory, as far as I know.
“John I’m Only Dancing” – David Bowie
In the traditional song “Frankie and Johnny,” a young woman named Frankie sees her boyfriend dancing with another woman and shoots him. As Johnny falls to the floor, he tells Frankie he loves her and was telling this other woman about her. “John I’m Only Dancing” flips the script. John sees his boyfriend dancing with a woman, and the boyfriend explains that it’s just dancing he’s doing with the woman. Pretty rad for 1973.
“Walk on the Wild Side” – Lou Reed
Speaking of David Bowie, he co-produced Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” a song that opens with a verse about Holly Woodlawn, who hitchhiked across the United States and by the time she arrived at her destination, “he was a she.” Somehow, this tale of “outsiders” became Reed’s only pop hit. I love the song, though I don’t know how Candy Darling was able to utter the title phrase with her mouth full.
“I’maman” – Jobriath
Jobriath was the first openly gay man signed to a major record label (Elektra).
“Jimmy’s Got a Little Bit of Bitch in Him” – Funkadelic
That’s one way to put it.
“I Got The” – Labi Siffre
Eminem’s first hit was “My Name Is,” the single version of which included lyrics one may consider to be homophobic. The music bed was built around a sample from Labi Siffre’s “I Got The.” Pity Eminem didn’t know beforehand that Siffre is an openly gay man who refused to approve the sample use until Eminem changed the lyrics for the album version. Said Siffre “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims.”
“Get Dancin’” – Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes
Joseph Montanez Jr. became openly gay Sir Monti Rock III, who adopted the camp persona of Disco Tex, and with openly gay Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons producer Bob Crewe came up with “Get Dancin’,” to the best of my knowledge the only top ten hit with the lyric “My chiffon is wet.”
“Killer Queen” – Queen
Killer Queen. Queen. Freddie Mercury.
“At Seventeen” – Janis Ian
Janis Ian came out as a lesbian in 1993.
“A.C.D.C.” – Sweet
She’s got girls. She’s got men.
“Ain’t Nobody Straight in L.A.” – The Miracles
Not true. I’ve met three straight people since I moved to L.A. in 2003.
“Sweet Transvestite” – Tim Curry
Sometimes I’m amazed by certain movie characters that catch on in the mainstream in a big way. Tim Curry’s Frank N. Furter is one of them, though it took a few years from the 1975 release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for it to happen.
“53rd & 3rd” – Ramones
The corner in a then gayish neighborhood where a Viet Nam War vet is trying to turn a trick.
“All the Time” – Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow publicly came out as gay in 2017.
“I Go To Rio” – Peter Allen
Peter Allen, Liza Minnelli’s first husband, was in a relationship with a male model from 1974 to 1984, when the model passed away from an AIDS-related illness. Allen passed away from an AIDS-related illness eight years later.
“The Killing of Georgie” – Rod Stewart
In which a gay man dies from a gay bashing on 53rd & 3rd. Not your typical top 40 fare in 1977, and yet.
“Jet Boy, Jet Girl” – Elton Motello
Sung from the persona of a 15 year-old boy who likes to kiss, get head from, and wishes to penetrate another boy, this song surprisingly didn’t make the top 40. Or top 100.
“Fuck Off” – Wayne County & The Electric Chairs
Considered to be rock music’s first openly transgender singer, Jayne County wrote and sang this song that to me is THE anthem of LGBTQI+ people.
“I Was Born This Way” – Carl Bean
Openly gay Carl Bean had a hit on the disco chart in 1978 with this song about being openly gay.
“Glad To be Gay” – Tom Robinson Band
“I Love the Nightlife (Disco ‘Round)” – Alicia Bridges
Alicia Bridges came out as a lesbian in 1998.
“Muscleboys” – Mumps
Hey – there’s a new compilation of recordings from gay punk band Mumps that just came out. Someone whose blog you’re now reading worked on it. J
“Cherry Poppin’” – Mitch Ryder
With The Detroit Wheels, Mitch Ryder had a handful of hit singles in the 1960s, the most famous of which was his medley of “Devil With a Blue Dress On” and “Good Golly, Miss Molly.” This song about his love of anal sex with other guys is not as well-known.
“Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” – Buzzcocks
Written and sung by Buzzcocks’ bisexual singer and songwriter Pete Shelley.
“Instant Replay” – Dan Hartman
The late Dan Hartman was a gay man who kept his sexual orientation and HIV status secret form the public during his lifetime.
“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” – Sylvester
On the other end of the spectrum is Sylvester, who was openly gay, outspoken, and refused to conform to the typical straight or gay presentation of one’s self.
“There But for the Grace of God Go I” – Machine
Carlos and Carmen Vidal move far away from the Bronx so they can raise their newborn daughter away from the Blacks, the Jews and the gays. How do you think the daughter turned out?
“Go West” – Village People
Village People’s openly straight lead singer Victor Willis said the lyrics he contributed to this song were not intended to be gay in any way, but as a gay man, it’s hard to not hear the song about two people in love beginning a new life in a place that’s peaceful and near the beach where they can be carefree and happy to not be about going west to California, particular gay mecca San Francisco. I’ll also add that Village People’s “Macho Man,” “In the Navy,” Y.M.C.A.,” “San Francisco,” and “Fire Island” sound kinda gay to me as well.
“Manimal” – The Germs
The Germs’ lead singer Darby Crash went to great lengths to hide the fact that he was gay, so as not to alienate the group’s fans. He took his own life in 1980, aged 22.
The Spotify embed link is still not working, so here is the link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4sRn5vjsgNdNm80iiSUf0M?si=ae606e31c882414a
Inspired by the July 16 birthdays of The Police’s Stewart Copeland, BROCKHAMPTON’s Kevin Abstract, William Bell, Desmond Dekker, The Searchers’ Tony Jackson, and Live’s Ed Kowalczyk; the July 15 birthdays of Linda Ronstadt, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, The Buggles/The Art of Noise’s Trevor Horn, Years & Years’ Olly Alexander, Gregory Isaacs, The Heartbreakers’ Johnny Thunders, Alicia Bridges, and Pamela Myers; and the July 14 birthdays of Belly/Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly, Woody Guthrie, Jamey Johnson, and Cliff & Claude Trenier.
“I will never do a disco album. I’d prefer to do deodorant commercials. I didn’t sing since I was ten years old so I could stand up like a moron and go ‘Getfunkynow, getfunkynow, getboogie-woogie, getfunkynow’.”
– Alicia Bridges, Sounds magazine
Alicia Bridges. You know, the lady who sang “I love the nightlife, I gotta boogie on the disco round.” She co-wrote that song as well. That record is a disco classic, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Disco chart. It crossed over to the pop chart, hitting #5, and the r&b chart, where it reached #31. It was Bridges’ only top 40 hit on any chart. Nowadays she shills for Arrid Extra Dry. Not really.
Today, Alicia Bridges turns 63 years old. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and we’ll celebrate Ms. Bridges’ birthday with a playlist she’s bound to hate, full of disco hits, kicking off with “I Love the Nightlife (Disco ‘Round).” Getboogiewoogie!
Oh, and what is a disco round?
In the early 1990s a demo of a song written by four men circulated through Warner Bros. Records. Though people at the label appreciated the song’s chorus, nobody wanted to record it.
Thinking that with some work the song may be good for Cher, whose last top ten pop hit was 1989’s “Just Like Jesse James,” Warner sent the demo to London’s Metro Studio, where two additional songwriters took a stab at improving the composition. Producers Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling created a dance track for the revised song, which they presented to Cher. She liked it.
She recorded the song. She and her producers played with a new technology called Auto-Tune, which added a robotic sound effect to her voice. When Warner heard that, they asked that it be removed, but Cher was adamant it stay.
In October of 1998, more than a half-decade after the composition’s original incarnation, Warner released Cher’s recording of “Believe.” On March 13, 1999, the song, the first pop tune to feature Auto-Tune, became Cher’s fifth #1 single in the United States, making her, then age 52, the oldest woman to top the US charts. It was her first #1 single since “Dark Lady” in 1974, the longest span ever between #1 records. It was the biggest-selling single stateside of 1999.
The record hit #1 in the UK, where it became the best-selling single of all-time by a female artist. It also topped the charts in Germany, Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand and Ireland.
Today the woman born Cherilyn Sarkisian turns 70 years old. Our weekly dance party kicks off with “Believe.” Have a superb weekend!
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Jada Pinkett Smith announced that she is boycotting the Academy Awards this year due to the lack of diversity among the acting nominees. I’m sure that will put a huge dent in the show‘s ratings, as the 40 million people who tend to tune in to the telecast do so to see Jada Pinkett Smith. Following in Pinkett Smith’s footsteps, Spike Lee and Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith announced that they were joining in the boycott.
The issue is that out of twenty nominated actors and actresses, twenty are Caucasian. At first glance that doesn’t appear to be very diverse. At second glance, it’s still not diverse, but a boycott is not going to bring about the change that is needed.
Granted, the conversation about the lack of diversity among the nominees needs to be had. The Motion Picture Academy needs to step up its efforts to expand its membership beyond white men, who at this time overwhelmingly make up its ranks.
However, the Academy Award nominations are the result of the actual problem, which is the lack of diversity involved in the movies being made by Hollywood. Movie studios and production companies need to be engaged in the diversity conversation. They’re the ones making the majority of films from which the Academy chooses the nominations. While Caucasian men make up the majority of ticket buyers, serving other demographics adds to a studio’s bottom line. Remember how shocked everyone was when the Sex & the City movie proved a box office bonanza? It’s a movie with female leads that sold tickets primarily to women moviegoers and grossed over $400 million, and it isn’t even good!
Women like to see their lives on the screen. So do African Americans. And Latinos. And people of Asian descent. And gay people. And trans people. And older people. And so on and so on.
Seeing one’s life on the screen means more than merely seeing people of one’s race or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation on screen. As the conversation surrounding this year’s nominees focuses on race, let’s look at some recent black nominees.
During the past decade, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o were nominated for portraying slaves. Denzel Washington was nominated for his role as an alcoholic drug-abusing pilot. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis were nominated for playing maids. (Spencer won, but Davis lost to Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Yes, the Iron Lady won over the lady who irons.) Mo’Nique won for her portrayal of an abusive mother. Forest Whitaker won for playing a corrupt, human rights-abusing dictator. Barkhad Abdi was nominated for playing a pirate. Ruby Dee was nominated for playing the mother of a drug kingpin.
Also nominated was Gabourey Sidibe for her portrayal of an African-American teenager who is repeatedly raped by her father and abused by her mother and others. That performance lost to Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of a nice, white lady who takes in a troubled African American teen.
Other characters portrayed by recently nominated white folks include Colin Firth as a king with a speech impediment, Eddie Redmayne as a brilliant scientist, Benedict Cumberbatch as a brilliant computer scientist, Leonardo DiCaprio as a stockbroker, Patricia Arquette as a loving mother, Sandra Bullock as an astronaut, Daniel Day-Lewis as the U.S. president who freed the black slaves, Robert Downey Jr. as a white actor portraying a black man, and Christoph Waltz as a bounty hunter who emancipates and mentors a black slave. I’m not going to go through every white nominee; we’ll be here all day!
From the examples given, eagle-eyed observers may notice the types of parts for which black actors and white actors get nominated for Academy Awards. Lee and the Smiths are not wrong in saying there is a problem here that needs to be fixed.
Joining the boycott are Curtis Jackson, star of such not-Oscar nominated films as Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Home of the Brave and Righteous Kill. Under his nom de rap 50 Cent, Jackson posted on Instagram a plea for Chris Rock to step down as the award show’s host. The same request came from Tyrese Gibson, star of such not-Oscar nominated films as The Fast & the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.
Calvin Broadus, under his nom de rap Snoop Dogg, posted a video on Instagram that said “Fornicate the Academy Awards,” though not in those exact words. Broadus was not nominated for his role in The Wash, in which he stretched his acting chops by portraying Dr. Dre’s weed-smoking best friend. That film has an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Until a few minutes ago I thought The Wash was a remake of the seventies movie Car Wash, which has an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Per Wikipedia, The Wash is an original movie written and directed by Mark Jordan under his nom de rap, DJ Pooh.
While the soundtrack of The Wash didn’t produce any Billboard Hot 100 hits, the soundtrack to Car Wash did. It was on January 29, 1977, that its theme song hit #1, an incredible feat given it’s a song about a car wash. Amazingly, the song holds up to this day.
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our playlist kicks off with Rose Royce’s “Car Wash.”
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Just how popular were the Bee Gees in 1978? So big that they accounted for two percent of the record industry’s profits that year.
On January 1, 1978, the trio, made up of brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, were at #1 with “How Deep is Your Love,” which the three performed, wrote and co-produced. It stayed on top for three weeks. In February they returned to the #1 position with “Stayin’ Alive.” That stayed at #1 for four weeks. It was knocked from the top spot by “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water,” performed by Andy Gibb, younger brother of the Bee Gees. “Thicker Than Water” was co-written and co-produced by Bee Gee Barry Gibb. “Thicker Than Water” was knocked from the top spot after two weeks by “Night Fever,” performed, written and co-produced by the Bee Gees. That song remained at #1 for eight weeks, only to be knocked from the top by “If I Can’t Have You,” performed by Yvonne Elliman and written and co-produced by the Bee Gees. Starting in mid-June, “Shadow Dancing,” written by the Bee Gees and Andy Gibb, co-produced by Barry Gibb, and performed by Andy Gibb went to #1 and stayed there for seven weeks. In late August Frankie Valli had his first #1 single in three years with “Grease,” written and co-produced by Barry Gibb.
Not everything they touched hit #1 that year. “Emotion,” written by Barry and Robin Gibb, co-produced by Barry Gibb and performed by Samantha Sang, peaked at #3 in March 1978. It was kept from #1 by “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive.”
The album from which “Night Fever,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep is Your Love” and “If I Can’t Have You” were taken is the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever, which spent 24 weeks at #1 and became the largest-selling album in history at that time. It remains the only soundtrack to have spawned four #1 singles. It could have been five if the Bee Gees’ version of their composition “More Than a Woman” had been released as a commercial single. Instead, the Tavares version of the song, which also appears on the soundtrack, was the single and became a top forty hit. Saturday Night Fever became the first soundtrack album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The Bee Gees also won Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (both “How Deep is Your Love” and “Stayin’ Alive”) and Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices (for “Stayin’ Alive”), and Barry Gibb, along with Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson, won Producer of the Year.
In 1978 the Bee Gees were connected with another high-profile movie project: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, in which they starred and performed on the soundtrack. Though Robin Gibb hit #15 with the film’s “Oh! Darling”, the album and film were considered flops.
The relative failure of Sgt. Pepper’s notwithstanding, the Bee Gees remained huge throughout 1978. Their blend of pop, soul, and dance music gave them mass appeal. Besides hitting #1 on the pop charts, “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” were top ten hits on the r&b and disco charts.
Tunes du Jour celebrates Throwback Thursday this week with the music of 1978. The Bee Gees may have dominated the mainstream, but as you’ll hear, rumblings of new and exciting permutations of rock & roll were rumbling under the surface.
We’ll kick off today’s playlist with the song that went to #1 in the UK, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the US.
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Around ten years ago I took up boxing. Not as a career, but as a form of exercise. I’d never watched a match on TV – too violent for my tastes. The idea to give it a try came from my trainer at Crunch Gym. Not my first trainer – he seldom showed up for our appointments. Not my second trainer, an asshole who ignored Crunch’s slogan “No judgments” and mocked my appearance throughout our sessions, while bragging about how he once made a female client of his cry. It was the idea of my third trainer at Crunch, the actor who often called me as I was five minutes from the gym to tell me he won’t make our session as he was still at an audition. Yes, that trainer. He showed up for our appointments around 60% of the time, which was better than my first Crunch trainer. He introduced me to boxing. I learned the upper cut, the cross, the jab, the duck, some other thing that involved me not getting punched in the face, and kicks. It was great exercise, especially on those days when I came to Crunch after a frustrating day at work. I’d punch that bag like I was seeing the face of one of the assholes with whom I worked. It got out the tension and got me into great physical shape.
I dumped that trainer once I decided a 60% show-up-for-your-job rate was inadequate for my aggression-releasing needs. I continued sparring with the fourth trainer Crunch assigned me, that is when he wasn’t flirting with the female clientele or taking weights from the floor and stuffing them in his duffle bag so as to build up his home gym.
When it came renewal time I left Crunch and their lot of unprofessional trainers and signed up at 24-Hour Fitness. Though it is literally a few steps from my home, I didn’t go to the location in West Hollywood, whose equipment, like its clientele, was old and decrepit. I went to the Hollywood location, where I was assigned a trainer who was so good, we worked out together for a few years. He introduced me to that hot actor who I later saw as a defendant on Judge Judy. He won his case. A few years later the West Hollywood location of 24-Hour Fitness closed for three and a half months. It reopened with fresh new equipment and fresh new customers, though oddly, it still was not open 24 hours, at least not in a single day.
Unfortunately, there was no boxing at 24-Hour Fitness. While at a local smoothie ship I saw a business card for a boxing coach who did private training at his home. He converted his unattached garage (is that the right word – unattached? I mean detached, right? Either way, you get my drift – his garage was not attached to his house.) into a boxing ring. He used to be a professional boxer and was a model as well. Our sessions were great, and not just because he’d say goodbye to me each week with a kiss on the lips, his heterosexuality be damned. Once he kissed me on the neck. Why did I stop seeing him? No recuerdo. Maybe it had something to do with a mental ward.
I’ve had one or two trainers and taken some boxing classes since then, but they weren’t as much fun. Something was missing, besides the kisses. Still, if one were to put me in a boxing ring today with Barbra Streisand, I think I could take her down. It’s not that I have a desire to punch Barbra Streisand, nor do we have a bout on the books. I’m saying this as a poor segue into mentioning her 1979 film The Main Event, in which she portrayed a boxer manager/perfume magnate.
The film re-teamed Barbra Streisand with Ryan O’Neal, seven years after their film What’s Up, Doc? What’s Up, Doc? is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you do, even if you’re not a fan of Barbra Streisand. Especially if you’re not a fan of Barbra Streisand. You’ll see a whole other side of her in this movie. Ryan O’Neal is great. Madeline Kahn made her feature film debut in this movie. How can you go wrong with Madeline Kahn? Austin Pendleton is in it. Kenneth Mars is in it. A lot of people are in it. I think I’ll host a viewing of it at my condo. Let me know if you’re around and interested. You should be interested.
I never saw The Main Event. Critics panned it, but the public enjoyed it. I have the soundtrack album, which includes the hit single “The Main Event/Fight.” Three times – the 45 mix, the 12-inch mix, and as a ballad. The latter is solely the song “The Main Event.” “The Main Event/Fight” is a medley. “The Main Event” was written by Paul Jabara, whose writing credits also include Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” and The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” (on a side note, does anybody know if Chaka Khan is okay?) and Bruce Roberts, whose writing credits also include Laura Branigan’s “The Lucky One” and that Jeffrey Osborne song that goes “Can you woo woo woo?”. “Fight” was written by Jabara and Bob Esty. Esty’s writing credits also include Cher’s “Take Me Home.”
“The Main Event/Fight” is, with the Donna Summer duet “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” my favorite Barbra Streisand single. I like my boxing coaches kissy and my Barbra Streisand songs peppy.
Today Barbra Streisand turns 73 years old. “The Main Event/Fight” kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.
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