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Music of Pride – The Classics

The patrons who had gathered inside Stonewall in June of 1969 had been dancing to music on the jukebox.   Village denizens who rushed to the scene of the raid had been listening to music on their radios.  The “Stonewall Girls’” music taunted police and encouraged our Community to never look back.

Perhaps the only thing more diverse than the Community forged that night, is the astonishingly eclectic nature of the “Top Ten Singles” playing that week.  The diversity of genres is arguably unlike any other time, and profoundly telling of the zeitgeist of America from which the LGBTQ Community was born.

  1. Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet — Henry Mancini And His Orchestra
  1. Bad Moon Rising — Creedence Clearwater Revival
  1. Get Back — The Beatles With Billy Preston
  1. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby — Marvin Gaye
  1. One — Three Dog Night
  1. Spinning Wheel — Blood, Sweat & Tears
  1. In The Ghetto — Elvis Presley
  1. Good Morning Starshine (“Hair”) — Oliver
  1. Israelites == Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  1. Grazing In The Grass — The Friends Of Distinction

Top Ten list courtesy of Billboard.com.  Read the full Hot 100 HERE

Music has always been a cultural touchstone of our Community, and we thought it would be fun to pull together some of our favorite songs played on jukeboxes over the years for our “classics” installment.  Hopefully we’ve included a few of your favorites too!

“Heroes”

Decades before the contemporary concepts of sexual and gender fluidity, David Bowie embraced nonconformity, androgyny and self-expression into a career with over 140M albums sold worldwide.  His 1972 alter ego persona, Ziggy Stardust, a bisexual, glam rock messenger for extraterrestrials, was a break through both musically and socially.

Bowie spoke about his sexuality in the 70’s and later “made over” that reality the way he reinvented himself and his music.  He was a master of metamorphosis who defied convention and genre, giving inspiration and courage for generations to do the same.

“You Make Me Feel”

A gay, African-American singer with a flamboyant and androgynous persona, Sylvester’s unique falsetto earned him the title, “Queen of Disco.”  As one of the first west coast artists of the disco era, Sylvester was a popular performer in San Francisco’s Castro.  There he quickly befriended Gay rights pioneers including Cleve Jones, Gilbert Baker, and Harvey Milk.  Perhaps this is the enduring influence and importance disco and breakout artists like Sylvester had on the early years of our Community.  They created dance floor utopias when all people gay or straight, of color or Caucasian, fabulous or conforming could be joyful… together.

 

“Let’s Get Physical”

Olivia Newton-John sold more than 100 million albums and was a stalwart LGBT ally the entire time. Olivia was one of the very first Aussie stars to call for marriage equality, and she performed at numerous Pride events in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Sydney.  How could we not love the woman who gave us gym guys getting all sweaty back in 1981?  If you haven’t seen in a while, make sure you get to the final seconds of the video. By the way, did you know Olivia won her 4th Grammy Award for ‘Physical’s’ music video?

 

“I’m Coming Out”

Whether as part of the biggest “girl group of all time,” The Supremes or as a solo artist, Diana Ross’ voice has always been part of the soundtrack of the Gay Community.  But when star power like hers collides with a song and a message of strength and empowerment like 1980’s “I’m Coming Out.”

 

“I Want to Break Free”

When Freddie Mercury embraced his homosexuality in the mid-70s, he did it not only in his personal life but in his on stage personae as Queen’s front man as well.  Gone were his longhair rocker locks and in their place, the neat cropped look and thick mustache of the leather look.  Freddie reveled in the flamboyance he found in the gay community and used it to compliment the theatricality of his music, stage shows, and music videos.  Nowhere is that more appearance than Queen’s 1984 music video for “I Want to Break Free.”

 

“Relax”

“Relax” the debut single from “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” was propelled to success when a British DJ deemed its cover art sexual “obscene” and banned playing it, only propelling it to #1 in the UK. When it came to making the music video for “Relax,” the open homosexuality of “Frankie” front man, Holly Johnson and vocalist, Paul Rutherford would be front and center.  Nothing sells like sex and scandal!

 

“I Want Your Sex”

George Michael’s smash album “Listen without Prejudice” ushered in the 1990’s giving voice to our to our Community’s desire for “Freedom” and a hot sexy track that matched his new look and persona with “I Want Your Sex.”

 

“Go West!”

A “must-have” when it comes to Pride Month play lists is the Pet Shop Boys cover of “Go West.”  Trust and believe this lives on my pool playlist all summer long. BUT – especially during Pride Month.  Originally recorded by The Village People (do I even have to elaborate here?), the song was covered by the Pet Shop Boys in 1993 and nominated for a Grammy Award for “Best Music Video.”

 

“Supermodel”

“You better work!” was the fierce proclamation of the 1993 dance floor anthem “Supermodel” which catapulted drag recording artist, RuPaul to international fame and  inspired millions to be strong and proud of who and what they were.  In a case of life imitating art, a seven year contract as “the First Face of M.A.C. Cosmetics” turned RuPaul into a bona fide supermodel.

 

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”

Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg’s Oscar winning, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” is as indelibly linked with Judy Garland as she with our Community.  What’s more, the song stands as a timeless classic which is recognized as Number One, on the “Songs of the Century” as compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the NEA.  This cover by Hawaiian recording artist, Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, or simple IZ, remains one of the most beautiful renditions reminding us of all those who have “gone over the rainbow.” too soon.

 

Check back next week for our next edition of Music of Pride!

 

Read our previous Pride Month 2024 posts:

“Proud Out Loud! – PRIDE 2024”
“Gilbert Baker’s Gift of Pride — The Rainbow Flag” 
“Make Your Voice Heard and Vote with Pride”

 

 

 

 

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