Please visit my sites Queer Music Heritage and OutRadio

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tom Goss Is Naked

Okay, I won't be the first, or last, to write about the new video by Tom Goss. It's just too delicious to not mention in this blog. He took his song "Make Believe," from his CD "Turn It Around," and decided to make himself a work of art, (not that he wasn't already). Now, I would have used a wrist watch instead of the clock, but that's just me. Enjoy the Video!

Official Website

Remixes of the song are available at iTunes & Amazon, Etc

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Songs About Billy Tipton

Billy Tipton was a jazz musician who achieved only modest regional success in the 40's and 50's. His career included live radio shows with Big Bands and evolved into jazz quartets and trios playing in night clubs. In his 74 years, in addition to being a band leader and a booking agent, he was a husband 5 times and adopted three children. After he died in 1989 in Spokane, a coroner revealed that he was much more, and the mysterious story ran wild on the wire services: Billy Tipton was a woman.

It seems that Tipton's decision to adopt a male disguise was likely motivated, at least at first,
by practical reasons: It was the depression, people were desperate for work, and it was
especially difficult for women to get work playing in jazz bands. So, at 19, Dorothy Tipton began cross-dressing to get a job in a band. She cut her hair, put on men's clothing, bound her breasts and re-christened herself Billy Tipton, eventually fooling 5 wives and the world for more than 50 years. Tipton left no letters of explanation, so we can only speculate on what drove her, but we can learn much of what there is to know from a biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook called "Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton."

While I felt it necessary to give that short history in case some had not heard it, this blog entry is really concerning Songs About Billy Tipton, as the legend inspired a few songs. And the first was from Phranc, known as the "All-American Jewish lesbian folksinger." The sound clip begins with Phranc talking about the song, taken from my QMH September 2005 interview with her.

Jill Sobule's song remains unreleased, but is not difficult to find on the web. And the heavy metal "Legend of Billy Tipton," by Video Dead I guess is a tribute; I often have trouble understanding lyrics in that genre.

Steve Schalchlin (with lyrics by Paul Zollo) wrote "Brilliant Masquerade" about Billy Tipton, and it's already been recorded by two choruses. He's well known for the musicals written with his partner Jim Brochu, such as "The Last Session," and "The Big Voice: God or Merman," and his solo project "New World Waking."

 The most recent song is by a self-proclaimed Diva, known as Pasheen
It's called "Cross Dress," and is from her 2011 CD "The Big Purr."

Honorable Mention:

"The Slow Drag," was a 1998 musical starring Kim Criswell, and included jazz standards (no songs about Tipton). It had a plot inspired by Tipton's story, with the lead character named Johnny Christmas. Of course just listening to the CD gives no sense at all of the story you could see during a performance.


The Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet was a Seattle area band taking their name to honor Tipton. Under that name they were active from 1989 through 2002, when the name was changed to Tipton's Sax Quartet. Founding members included Amy Denio, Jessica Lurie, Marjorie de Muynck, and John Otto.

As a side note, at the time of its founding Otto was named Babs Helle and performed with them until 1990. Per Wiki he coined the group's name, and has gone on to become a transgender activist. Pam Barger (earlier of Two Nice Girls) played drums on at least two of their early CDs. In their career under both names they have released ten albums. I have only three in my collection and do not know if any songs on other CDs were actually about Billy Tipton.

 And, for more info I recommend Diane Wood Middlebrook's book "Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Animal, No Bitch

Everything is appealing to me about this artist: 

1. S/he goes by the name Animal.

2. S/he was part of the duo Bitch & Animal, that toured the world for ten years, and released three albums on Ani Difranco's label, Righteous Babe Records.

3. S/he identifies as a "transperformative artist." Or, as Outfront Colorado more colorfully states, “Prufrock is a badass bipolar cosmic tranny with a new album written for gender warriors.” [ By the way the "s/he" term is from Animal's website, I would never be so bold to choose that term myself ]

4. S/he is also currently pursuing a PHD in Transformative Studies developing theories around gender variance, creativity and theatrical collaboration.

5. The new solo CD is also available on vinyl.

But the first thing I noticed when I got Animal's solo CD "congratulations; thank you & I'm sorry," was how fresh and inventive it is, with intriguing titles like "Emotional Boner" and "0 + 0 = 0." The CD was released in 2010 and, by the way, was produced by Ani. My two faves though are...well, I'll let you hear them:

Below, the Bitch & Animal CDs: 
"What's That Smell?" (1999)* 
"Eternally Hard" (2001)
"Sour Juice & Rhyme" (2003)

*(which by the way, contains the gem "Drag King Bar")

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bibi Andersen

Bibi Andersen is a Spanish transsexual actress, singer and model who parlayed her sex change in a career in film, including appearing in films by Pedro Almodóvar. Born in 1954, she grew up in Malaga and moved to Barcelona to find her success. It was her first film though, "Cambio de Sexo (Sex Change)," in 1977, that provided her the celebrity to also release an album and several singles.  And, of course that she had recordings is what caught my attention.

Her only LP, in 1980, was just called "Bibi Andersen" with the songs about evenly split between sung in Spanish and English. "Call Me Lady Champagne" got a single release, as did "Sálvame," and you can hear those below, along two others that caught my fancy, "Girls Will Be Boys," and a cover of the Herman's Hermits song "I'm Into Something Good." All are on the album, and she had one other single, not in my collection, called "Canto," in 1982. Listen to:

and if it's your thing, google can find you nude photos of her


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stephen Leonard CD "His Fire"

Stephen Leonard's latest CD is, I think, exquisite. It's called "His Fire" and is one of those albums that seem like a total work of art, where it's almost a crime to pull pieces out of it without listening to the whole creation. That's what make it difficult to talk about particular songs, if that makes sense, but I do remember when he had a sound file on his Facebook page to preview, of the song "I'm Fortified," I wrote him that he had me at the line "I'm a fortified queer"....I loves me some queer lyrics. You can hear clips of that one and more on his Soundcloud page. I wish I could see him perform it all in one set, now That would be an experience.

 Oh, yeah, he has videos also. And a fun place to start is the one where he gives his own guided tour through the new CD.

And, as he's quite hot, I can't resist adding some pics to this blog entry.

That's fellow Chicago artist Ian Wilson behind Stephen on keyboards;
I'm also a fan of his, so you might check out his music

And, I think this is interesting, he has a video of a demo (March 2011) of the song "His Fire," which is quite different, and a lot faster, than the one eventually on the to see how the song progressed.

I also want to plug his debut CD from 2009, "With a Pen."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Songs for Matthew Shepard

Could it be 14 years already? The tragic death of Matthew Shepard on October 12, 1998, had a huge effect on people everywhere, especially GLBT people. That hate crime has inspired a large number of songs to be written about him over the years. I was deeply moved and began collecting these songs and have gathered 57 of them on a page of my website. And I am pleased that this happens to be my 100th blog entry.

While preparing this blog entry I found an on-line video of Matthew, and his boyfriend at that time, done in 1996, so had to share that information. 

At another website I found this description of the video:
There’s very little video of Matthew Shepard, this is the only one I’ve ever seen. It comes from a documentary called “Dear Jesse”, which is about Jesse Helms. This is such a case of chance; just by coincidence, when Tim Kirkman, the director, was interviewing students, Matthew happened to be one of them. At the time, he was just an average guy, and there was no way to know how significant he would become posthumously in our movement.

Below is a brand new, and very well done video by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. I found it quite moving. (You can click on the cc in the player to view the lyrics)