|Celebrations in Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle/Green Left Weekly.|
They say nothing good ever happens, but events yesterday sure put paid to that! Yes, I got a ticket to Alabama's "alt-country"/Americana superstar Jason Isbell! I cannot fucking wait! You can check out this recently streamed live show of Isbell with his band the 400 Units from the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to see why this is really fucking exciting news.
Also, the results were released of the non-binding survey on whether to support marriage equality in this country and it was a decisive victory for "yes" in a rare win for humanity, equality and basic fucking human decency.
(For the record, Isbell tweeted his support for Australians voting "yes" early in the campaign.)
It is a strange feeling, in this godforsaken nation, to feel positive about anything relating to the cluster fuck that passes for "politics" here. But after an unnecessary voluntary postal plebiscite (coz obviously in 2017 there is no other way to resolve an important issue than mailing out ballot papers with prepaid envelopes via a largely defunded postal service) and a fucking ugly campaign by the well-funded, Christian fundamentalist-driven no campaign...
... the vote, with a turn out of 79.5% of registered voters, was about 62% "yes", with clear majorities in all state and territories.
As a non-binding survey -- why would you spend $122 million in taxpayers money to resolve something definitively -- it does not resolve the issue in-and-of-itself. But it makes it a political certainty in some form, and a bill is expected to pass parliament by Christmas.
This has made a lot of people very happy. You can see some of them below, in the Green Left TV footage of the moment the result was announced to thousands of people in Sydney's Albert Park.
No doubt it has made a few people sad, mostly people called Miranda, Tony or Lyle. I won't show you them because there's too much misery in the world already.
So finally, Australia can catch up with famously socially progressive nations like Ireland and that country that gave Donald Trump the keys to the White House in allowing same-sex couples to marry, if not fully resolving all issues such as legal discrimination for trans people in various fields.
It may not be perfect, it may have taken an unnecessary toll on LGBTI people, but still.... if a win like that is not worth celebrating, I don't know what is.
And I know how to celebrate!
And sad country songs!!!
There is no occasion I can think of in which decent country songs about love going wrong are not appropriate, least of all a situation which is, after all, a celebration of love!
Now, country music has a reputation as some sort of uniformly socially backwards form, but it isn't. There is all sorts of country music, including by LGBTI performers. The mainstream country industry can be very conservative, and many just see that as the entire genre, as though you could reduce rock music to Limp Bizkit or Billy Joel, or hip-hop to, I don't know, Vanilla Ice....
So here are a couple of good country songs by a couple of LGBTI singers. Because love is love, as they say, and it frequently fucking hurts!
'I'm drinking water tonight coz I drank all the whiskey this morning. Drank the whiskey this morning, coz my baby, she ain't coming home...'
This is a fucking sad song. You see, "last night she went up to the bar, said she met some big country star". This country star is, apparently, "like [country legend] Dwight Yoakam". Not is Dwight Yoakam, which might be easier to take, merely sounds like the guy. And she's gone having "taken every last one of my good years". God, no wonder Sarah Shook is on the whiskey in the morning.
Listed last year by Rolling Stone in a list of 10 New Country Artists You Need To Know, when she isn't spending her mornings drinking whiskey, Sarah Shook is an openly LGBTI performer and civil rights activist from North Carolina, who has won an award for her work in promoting a Safe Spaces initiative in Chapel Hill, NC.
'It took 19 years to find her, and three years to make her mine. We had four good years of loving, but it only took two words to break her heart...'
Oh God, Melbourne-based country-blues singer Cash Savage knows how to pull out a gut-wrenching vocal.
In some ways, this is less "country" country than Sarah Shook. With Savage's bluesy voice over a driving banjo, it has bit of a bluesy folk vibe more than straight up "twang". But it definitely has a country soul -- ie: misery over love gone wrong.
As to marriage equality, Cash Savage never waited for any bullshit plebiscite. She married her partner, magazine editor Amy Middleton, a while back.
And yes, OK... I guess I might as well throw a couple of "happy" and "positive" songs in the mix.
'Aint gonna reference no lonesome road, I confess my affection has grown and grown. I'm in love!'
Here, Cash Savage sings to the glories of love in a song that is almost a spiritual experience. Soulful doesn't being to describe Savage's vocal style, and on "19 Years" and "I'm In Love", she shows how perfectly capture both extremes of that crazy fucking thing called "love".
And ok, this one below is not country nor is about love, at least not in an individual sense. This is a song by Gossip, fronted by LGBTI singer Beth Ditto, about LGBTI defiance in the face of the then-Bush administration's attacks on her community. It is... well it is defiant and on point.
'Standing in the way of control, we live our lives....'