Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Gay Marriage: The Musical Test

I was thinking earlier today about music and romantic love and how, down the ages, the 'love song' or the 'wedding song' really doesn't fit with the whole appeal to 'love' made by proponents of 'gay marriage'.

Of course, I'll doubtless be called a 'bigoted homophobe' for saying this, even though I've been nothing but honest about my 'orientation' so best I say it now while there is a modicum of free speech in the country. What I was thinking is this: I can't, off the top of my head, think of any 'gay love' songs that say 'wedding' or even 'happy long term relationship of mutual love, happiness and respect'. I can't really think of any 'gay love' songs to be honest - I mean, not many that speak of the unbridled joy of same-sex attraction.

The only songs that I know which are either blatantly or obliquely about 'gay love' or gay attraction are either a) tortured, melancholic, conflicted or depressing, b) about a sense of personal liberation (rather than love for another human being), c) glorifying the escapism and hedonism of 'the scene' or, d) 'us' vs 'them', like Bonnie and Clyde e) concerning lust and desire in isolation, rather than genuine romantic love for another.  When artists want to take on homosexuality in their music, invariably it is overtly political, strident and aiming to shock the audience - culturally, music has been a force in the acceptance of homosexuality. Anyone remember Frankie Goes to Hollywood?

At best, the 'gay love' song is about intense loyalty in the face of a World that cannot understand. Take this song, by The Smiths. Part of the homosexual experience is depicted here in terms of 'forbidden fruit' picked by lovers that society shuns.

Out of the assorted 'out' modern songwriters, we have people such as George Michael and Elton John.  Even the modern music scene is not teeming with 'out' homosexual life. Ironically, even though both stars would define themselves as 'gay', their best and most memorable 'love songs' were directed towards the female sex. Elton, remember, was once married...properly married. George Michael was once in music videos a-courting ladies.

Since gay 'anthems' really only emerged out of the ghetto in the 1980s (unless we're going to count 'Village People's 'YMCA') I struggle to find anything that might be played at a 'gay wedding' which would support the notion of same-sex attraction or 'homosexual love' written by a homosexual man for his lover. A classic anthem by Queen's Freddie Mercury was 'I Want to Break Free' and I expect that many of his fans were not really aware of his homosexuality until later after Freddie's death. Yet, again, if that song is about sexuality, then its about liberation - what kind of liberation is the artist really seeking? I really think it depends on what level you want to read the 'secrets of the soul' which are laid bare in composition.

Gay music depends on tension and conflict - not love. It is not usually about happiness in another. It never says 'wedding'. Interestingly, the opposite is true. It is almost as if music composed by homosexual artists trying to deal with the issue of same-sex attraction have tended towards either the self-expressive (rather than love expressive, unless, that is, we're talking about self-love) or the depressive. Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that homosexuals have written some classic love songs, but the focus, even for those homosexuals who have composed great love songs, tends strangely towards the opposite gender. 'You're the Best Friend' was written by Freddie Mercury about a woman who he loved very much. There is a sense that when homosexuals try to compose 'love songs' for men who they are involved with passionately or on a sexual basis, that the songs are full of conflict and not a small measure of pain.

People like Stonewall would argue from a Marxist liberation point of view that the reason for this is because society has yet to fully accept and embrace 'gay love' and so men will feel conflicted about their identity until they fully come out and society fully embraces it. In that sense, you could say that Stonewall's supporters treat 'coming out' like Protestant Evangelicals do 'believing on the name of the Lord Jesus'. In other words, if you don't feel 100% a-ok about your homosexuality, its because your just a shy type and society has oppressed you. If society teaches children about homosexuality, and there is gay marriage, and everyone is comfortable with it, then one day, you will never feel uncomfortable about your sexual identity in the slightest, nor suffer any feelings of personal guilt. In this sense, the gay movement is quasi-religious in the sense that it believes salvation is a collective task, involving all of society, towards gay 'liberation'. Take this Pet Shop Boys cover of the Village People's 'Go West' as an example.

When the message isn't political there can be some genuine discomfort there, as if homosexuality has marked the person out. Take this song, from the 1980s, by Bronski Beat. Can you feel this guy's pain? It seems to be more than just about rejection from family, or society, but there is a sense of personal stigma as well...

On the other hand, I can think of plenty of fraternal love songs written by gay men about those who they are not involved with sexually, as well as those with whom they would like to be involved sexually - but that is a different thing - that is fantasy and I think that the 'gay world' deals very much in fantasy and yearning for 'something' (perhaps something we could call God). This, however, is still a different phenomena to romantic love.

As far as I can see, just thinking about my not inconsiderable knowledge of modern rock and pop, I struggle to think of a song by an artist that says, 'I'm totally comfortable with my homosexuality, I know you are too, these feelings are totally natural and I want to marry you, darling - let's invite all the family!'. Even what has become a 'gay anthem', Lady Gaga's 'Born this Way' is about anger and rebellion - against society and, implicitly, against God and the Church. There's usually a hint of this being somewhat illicit, not necessarily because of societal perception, but a sense of personal darkness in the soul. Essentially, most music is about soul-baring, unless its something done purely for commercial purposes. Those artists who are genuinely honest about 'baring' their conflicted emotions on such matters are few and rare because such honesty takes a level of self-awareness and the ability to go beneath the artifice and mask of everyday life.

I have, in my time, been to quite a few gay bars and clubs and I can tell you that its a 'scene' that is insular, yet strangely exclusive. I found that I mainly didn't fit in because I wasn't doing drugs. Similarly, the music played in most of the bars tends towards lyrics about escapism, lust, personal liberation and the idea of getting 'high' - not necessarily on drugs, though I expect the music of many gay clubs sounds better on drugs.

The sad fact is that 'gay wedding' parties, if they are to express real human love between two people of the same-sex looking forward to a lifetime of Cameronian 'commitment' and enjoying other people's children, then if they want love songs, they'll be relying on love songs about the miracle of love between men and women and the unique gift of human sexuality for unitive and procreative love between members of the opposite sex. That's what wedding songs instinctively are. Either that or its ABBA's 'Dancing Queen', Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' or Lady Gaga's 'Born this Way'. These are famous 'gay anthems' yet none of them are really about love. They're about self-glorification. What the gay community doesn't have is proper gay wedding 'love songs' and all those love songs that are famous are about the love of a man for a woman or a woman for a man. Even the racy numbers say, 'I want to be with you forever', like this one...

Hmm...Now this is what I call about baby-making music! Ladies and gentleman, I feel nearly ready to rest my case. These are wedding songs, but if they are, they are clearly about the love of a man for a woman or vice versa. That's just what wedding songs are.

I can't imagine a gay wedding love song that has the raw unleashing of human happiness in another person of, say, the walrus of love himself.

Natural marriage 5 - 0 Gay Marriage. Don't ask me how I worked that score out. Gay marriage may have the best 'gay anthems', but few 'gay anthems' are about love or even devotion to one person other than yourself. Yes, as they say, the Devil may have the best 'anthems' but now we can say that God's still got the best tunes.


gemoftheocean said...

Interesting post -- but I think it's safe to say there's not many real romantic male/female let's get married etc. etc. of the purely romantic kind being written much now either. The last 30 years in particular have been a wasteland in that regard. But I suggest if you look back to the 30-50s and into the 60s and even early 70s to a degree, you'll find plenty of romantic songs that could be a romance song for either straight or homosexual couples. You've entirely skipped over many great 'popular standards' and classics from musical theatre. Don't forget not a few lyricists like Larry Hart were gay. The age in general was a lot less crude as regards romance. The last really 'romantic' let's get married and raise a family song I can remember that carried that sort of thing with complete innocence was 'We've only just Begun' by the Carpenters! [...and that song was originally written for a bank commercial at that.] For a short example compare the lively 'you're all the world to me' lyrics (which could easily be 'the song' for both hetro/homosexual) to something from the White Album.

You're all the world to me:
'Everywhere that beauty glows you are,
Everywhere an orchid grows you are,
Everything that's young and gay, brighter than a holiday,
Everywhere the angels play you are.
You're like Paris in April and May
You're New York on a silvery day.
A Swiss Alp as the sun grows fainter,
You're Loch Lomond when autumn is the painter.
You're Moonlight on a night in Capri,
And Cape Cod looking out at the sea,
You're all places that leave me breathless,
And no wonder: you're all the world to me.
You're Lake Como when dawn is aglow,
You're Sun Valley right after a snow.
A museum, a Persian palace,
You're my shining Aurora Borealis
You're like Christmas at home by a tree,
The blue calm of a tropical sea.
You're all places that leave me breathless,
And no wonder: you're all the world to me.'

Somehow 'we' went from that to:

'Why don't we do it in the road'
(x5 times)
'No one will be watching us, why don't we do it in the road'
Repeat whole darn thing several times.

No wonder 'no one' falls in love anymore ... they just have 'relationships.'

Not many writers today are clever enough to rhyme 'Persian palace' with 'aurora borealis.' Anger and 'road' songs are easier. The whole culture plays to the lowest common denominator.

A Reluctant Sinner said...

Excellent post, once again!

This should be published as an article in a newspaper.

God bless,


Mike Cliffson said...

I'd broadly agree with gemofthe ocean
SO OK, THEY DIDNT LIVE UP TO IT. But, as in moost of their songs :
obladi ooblada: desmond molly +

engaement ring + later kids

Cliff richard, the young ones: boy+girl + one day we'll have yuong ones of our own
Well, he's still single, or what ever, but the song was very popular

hermans hermits
looks like a lament for a heterosexual breakup

also reandrerecorded
IF IWEre a carpenter, and you were a lady
would you marry me anyway
would you have my baby?(nuff said)

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