Monday, June 30

Tuesday, June 17

Music Moves People: The Legacy of Smalltown Boy

30 years ago in 1984 I was born. But more pertinent is that a band called Bronski Beat released a simple song: Smalltown Boy. Listening to it on the first pass you'd never know exactly how much this song meant to the world. A simple synth-pop jam with a repetitive chorus of a falsetto voice painfully chanting "run away, turn away" can distract from lyrics that summarize a man's childhood of bullying, facing homophobia and accepting oneself as gay. Today, this is the thesis of half of Lady Gaga's music, and there are countless other songs on the radio touting messages self-acceptance.

But this was 1984; three years before Reagan said "AIDS" for the first time, only six years after Harvey Milk was murdered, and the UK had just elected the first member of parliament to come out of the closet.

And into this fray comes this song with a narrative that gave voice to those facing intense fear, rejection, bullying and loneliness:

     On a sad and lonely face
     Mother will never understand
     Why you had to leave
     For the love that you need

in fact, this whole chart-topping album is sung from a rare-at-that-time gay man's perspective, and the album was named after the included sleeve that gave the age of consent for homosexual intercourse around the world. Music wasn't just an emotional experience, but a political one as well, just like the lives of gay men at the time. The official video tells the story well:

Then, in 2006 the iconic and catchy tune was given a fresh life by Supermode - the very underrated combination of Steve Angello and Axwell before their Swedish House Mafia days - who overlaid the best hooks of the song along with vocals from another Bronski Beat track "Why?" If you heard Axwell  or Steve Angello play any sets since 2006, very likely you heard a bit of this song:

Now, to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the song, Jimmy Somerville re-recorded a beautifully soulful acoustic version:

And for good measure, here's the Spotify playlist of the entire Bronski Beat album "Age of Consent". 30 years later this timeless album of early gay synth-pop is still being emulated by young gay musicians worldwide:

UPDATE: Extra bonus video of Jimmy Somerville stumbling into a duet with an unsuspecting busker singing Smalltown Boy:

Wednesday, June 4

Lunchbox - 5.6.14

I guess I haven't had one in awhile - I have 14 new tracks for you. 14!!! Click, listen, be refreshed as you work this warm, pre-summer week!