Pete Townshend Rough Boys: Gay Themes

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by 22dRow, Apr 26, 2004.

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  1. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member Thread Starter

    Just saw the Rough Boys video this weekend for the first time and it underlined the wonderfully homosexual bent of the song. Pete wrestles with tough pool playing guys, one rubs the fat end of the pool cue right under Pete's lips, Pete looks one in the eyes and says "I wanna bite and kiss you." This and Tom Robinson's music were the only music around that time that talked openly about a gay experience with unapologetic hard rock. There were lots of "dancy" songs in the 70s and 80s which insinuated things (usually in "code") but nothing hard rocking that was this obvious/proud for another 20 years that I know of. Other than Tom Robinson, does anyone know of any 70s or 80s hard rock music that explores gay themes?

    Tough boys
    Running the streets
    Come a little closer
    Rough toys
    Under the sheets
    Nobody knows her
    Rough boys
    Come over here
    I wanna bite and kiss you
  2. GabeG

    GabeG New Member

    Off the top of my head, the first that comes to mind is Bob Mould of Husker Du fame and later of Sugar.
  3. bare trees

    bare trees Senior Member

    Actually, Rob has addressed gay themes in a couple of Priest songs. Raw Deal from the Sin After Sin album deals with an encounter in a gay bar. Rob has admitted that Jawbreaker from Defenders Of The Faith addresses this issue.
  4. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    What, you guys never heard of the Village people?


    Seriously, another song off of Pete's great "Empty Glass" album is "And I moved," which is, depending on one's viewpoint, either about a homosexual encounter or Pete singing from a woman's viewpoint. I remember some of the "controversy" when the album came out - not much controversy, really, somewhat surprisingly in retrospect - and I remember reading an interview with Pete where he said that he wrote the song for Bette Midler (or someone like that) and then decided to sing it himself and put it out on "Empty Glass."
  5. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    I can't help but laugh when I think of all those times, as a kid in the 60s and early 70s, when my grandmother would watch Liberace all the time on TV. The thought that he was gay never entered her mind - he was simply "flamboyant." ;)
  6. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Ah, man, sorry about that. I just realized that even mentioning Liberace in a passing, jestful reference in a thread about Pete Townshend has got to be one damn serious thread crap!
  7. Evan L

    Evan L Beatologist

    And we won't even discuss Jim Nabors....! :laugh:

    Well, one hears about Pete's "experimentations" in the sixties(along with the likes of Dave Davies, etc). Does this mean Pete is gay or bisexual? Dunno. I do know that he has been married and has a girlfriend, currently. So who knows? Roger Daltrey said on Howard Stern's show that he does not want to explore that area of Pete's psyche either! :laugh:

  8. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Mould is gay, but I wouldn't say he wrote explicitly about gay themes in Husker Du or Sugar. Mould wasn't publicly out during that time period (though his sexuality wasn't really a secret either) and his songs about bad relationships were general enough and didn't contain anything making them specific to the gay experience. I haven't heard his couple most recent albums to know if he's writing more specifically about being gay now.

    If I recall correctly, the other guy in Heatmiser that wasn't Elliott Smith (I forget his name) was gay, and did address it in some of his work on the Heatmiser albums.
  9. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member Thread Starter

    I think it's sad that even in 2004, although there have been songs recorded, and album tracks, there still have been no major hit top 10 singles that are sung from a clearly, unapologetically homosexual viewpoint i.e. a man singing "I love him."
  10. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    Some songs I can think of that supposedly have gay themes are:

    Take A Walk On The Wild Side-Lou Reed
    At Seventeen-Janis Ian
    All The Young Dudes-Mott The Hoople
    John, I'm Only Dancing-David Bowie
    The Killing Of Georgie-Rod Stewart
    Rikki, Don't Lose That Number-Steely Dan
    Relax-Frankie Goes To Hollywood
    YMCA-Village People
    In The Navy-Village People
    some song by George Michael that I can't think of right now
  11. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    Johnny Mathis confirms he is gay, but says no one ever asked him until a few years ago.

    Luther Vandross is gay.

    There have been rumors about Teddy Pendergrass ever since he was in a car accident in late 1982. He had a transexual prostitute friend in the car with him.

    There have been rumors about Billy Preston as well.

    Jim Nabors says he is not gay.
  12. Grant

    Grant Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me!

    United States
    There's "Bobby Brown Goes Down" by Frank Zappa...
  13. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member Thread Starter

    Good list. Yes, all famous songs, some of them even good songs, but all sing about it in CODE. My question/observation was about why there aren't more obvious ones like Tom Robinson's "Glad to Be Gay" or Pete's "Rough Boys". Also, only one of the songs on your list could qualify as hard rock, the genre I was discussing.
  14. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member Thread Starter

    Oh my. I was hoping this thread wouldn't turn into a Who's Gay and Who's Not thread. I'm interested in the theme and the music, not so much whether the singer is gay
  15. Jimbo

    Jimbo Forum Hall Of Fame

    Zero/Zero Island
    Some of Melissa Etheridge's lyrics can be viewed in a different light after she announced her sexual orientation. I like the fact that her multiplatinum breakthrough album was slyly titled "Yes I Am." :righton:
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    After working in show biz for 20 years, not only do I not care who is and who isn't, but I REALLY do not care.

    Let's get back to the subject of this thread, please!
  17. teaser5

    teaser5 Cool Rockin' Daddy

    The DMV
    I always thought that "Rough Boys" was about Paul Cook and Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols. Can't recall exactly why...Good song though...

  18. 22dRow

    22dRow New Member Thread Starter

    Thank you and Amen.
  19. Larpy

    Larpy Active Member

    Well, it's not '80s, and it's technically more "transgendered" than "gay," but the soundtrack to the film Hedwig and the Angry Inch is fantastic. Some of the songs rock pretty danged hard. Stephen Trask did most of the songwriting (Bob Mould plays some guitar).

    I recall that Trask was a fixture on the NYC queer punk scene a decade or so ago. I don't know if he's recorded other albums. He's a talented guy.

    Check out the film next time you're in the video shop.
  20. floyd

    floyd Senior Member

    Spring Green, WI
    Didnt I read that Pete wrote this song in Who days but Roger wouldn't sing it.
  21. JohnT

    JohnT Senior Member

    This is a LP I recorded last week and have listened a couple times. First spin I simply tried to re associate with the material I knew and listen to the tracks I'd never heard before. Second spin had me picking out who is playing what and so forth. In my mind I thought about the title track but dismissed the theme without dissecting it as I was lost in the overall feel of the music, which I think is great.

    Well, to whomever dumped this gem in the thrift shop for me to pick up for $1, I say thanks!!! Only downside, now I've got to start picking out some Ronnie Lane material as I was never (consciously) familiar with Small Faces. And who was that Clapton guy playing Dobro :winkgrin:

    edit: :o I was talking about Rough Mix not Rough Boys - sorry
  22. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm trying to say this carefully since this is already turning into a touchy subject for some...

    Well, I think one of the reasons we won't, anytime soon, see any *hit* songs with *overtly* gay themes is because homosexuals are such a minority of the population (liberally, perhaps 10%) and for most songs to become hits they need to strike an emotional chord in a large percentage of the population. I don't think it has anything to do with bigotry or homophobia - as evidenced by the gay-themed songs mentioned above, people like them and are accepting of them. But a great percentage of pop - and *popular* - songs have to do with human relationships of one sort or another and for a song to be "gay-themed" it would almost certainly have to deal with same-sex issues that simply aren't relevent to 90% of the listeners.

    It has nothing to do with being "turned off" by a song with a man singing "I love him," but it would likely be difficult for a straight person to personally relate to such a statement on an emotional level. At least to the extent that such a song would become a "hit."
  23. lennonfan

    lennonfan New Member

    baltimore maryland
    another great 'gay' group was Bronski Beat, Smalltown Boy was an incredibly big hit in Europe and dealt with serious gay issues, T-Rex has some flirting going on in a couple songs, Rebel Rebel was pretty explicit for Bowie, k.d. lang has some lesbian oriented material, the psych album The United States Of America has a track about gay people, of course in the 80's you had Boy George and Marilyn and other androgynous button pushers :)
    Erasure is also very 'out' not to mention Queen, Freddie Mercury really opened the door along with Bowie for all this sort of thing to come out in the open, and not only that, but become popular (no small feat in much more homophobic times)....
  24. BIG ED

    BIG ED Forum Resident

    Pete's NOT gay!
    He's bi.
    When asked why, he said to the effect; There are just some things you just can't do to a woman, that you can do with a man.

    SURE, glad I've never had THAT problem.
    And, I have ALWAY'S complemented my girlfriends for SAVING me from 'joining' the other team.
  25. CardinalFang

    CardinalFang New Member

    I agree that Bob Mould never really addressed the issues in Husker Du or Sugar. A friend (and big Bob fan from back in the day) saw him live a couple years ago and was surprised by the show... lots of wrestling videos and a definite homo-erotic flair to it. However, like czeskleba, I don't know if his recent lyrics address these issues. He does have a Blog now, and you can keep up with him there. He addresses a lot of topical issues, and discusses his DJ work.

    One artist that addresses these issues is Stephin Merritt, best known for his band The Magnetic Fields, but also in Future Bible Heroes, The 6ths, and The Gothic Archies. His classic is "69 Love Songs," a three-disc set that feature, yes, sixty-nine songs about love. He doesn't sing every song, and sometimes he has a woman sing, but he wrote each one and some of them are beautiful. Some are throw-aways to fill up space, but it's still a great album.
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