David Bruce: The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2 — Free Speech, Friends, Gays and Lesbians, Gigs

Free Speech

• The punk group the Sex Pistols sang their song “God Save the Queen” during Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee Year, which celebrated her first 25 years as Queen. The song contained the depressing refrain of “no future” and rhymed “God save our Queen” with “fascist regime.” It was popular, selling 150,000 copies during its first five days of release and reaching the number 2 spot in the charts. However, newspapers declined to list the song, deciding instead to simply leave the number 2 spot in the charts blank.

Friends

• Music is important to folksingers. Woody Guthrie once arrived for a visit with his friend Pete Seeger. Seeing Woody’s guitar, Pete unslung his banjo, and before they said “Hello” and shook hands, they had played “Doggy Split a Rye Straw,” “Fifteen Miles from Birmingham,” “Going Down This Road Feeling Bad,” “Sally Goodin,” and “Worried Man Blues.”

• Italian baritone Giuseppe De Luca was well liked by his colleagues, although he once had a problem with them because of gambling. Mr. Caruso taught Mr. De Luca how to play poker, and Mr. De Luca soon became so good and won so consistently that Mr. Caruso — and everyone else — declined to play with him.

Gays and Lesbians

• The sister of country music superstar Garth Brooks is gay, and Mr. Brooks made a pro-gay statement in his song “We Shall Be Free.” Actually, it might be more accurate to say that he made a pro-love statement in that song, which celebrates love, whether it is between people of different races or people of the same sex. His sister helped educate Mr. Brooks, who is heterosexual, simply by being who she was. Mr. Brooks says, “The longer you live with it, the more you realize that it’s just another form of people loving each other.”

• Lesbian singer/songwriter kd lang, aka Kathryn Dawn Lang, aka Kathy Lang, created a lot of buzz in the 1990s. In 1992, she even appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in a photograph that showed her sitting in a barber chair while supermodel Cindy Crawford shaved her. A male journalist once asked Ms. Lang what was going through her mind while she was posing for the photograph. She replied, “Pretty much what would have been going through yours in the same circumstances, I imagine.”

Gigs

• Early in their career, the Ramones played in London on July 4, 1976. Some cool kids who called themselves The Clash hung around during a sound check before the concert and talked to the members of the band, mentioning that they played music, too, but weren’t good enough to play in public. Johnny Ramone told them, “Are you kidding? I hope you’re coming tonight. We’re lousy. We can’t play. If you wait until you can play, you’ll be too old to get up there. We stink, really. But it’s great.” (Of course, this is a great example of punk rock’s DYI — Do It Yourself — attitude.) The concert made headlines. A tabloid used the headline “Glue Sniff Shocker” because one Ramones’ song was titled “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” This amused bass player Dee Dee Ramone, who said, “I hope they really don’t think we sniff glue. I quit when I was eight.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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