Category Archives: Music

Amazing Grace

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have regarded me according to the rank of a man of high degree, O Lord God.

—1 Chronicles 17:16-17

It’s been quite a while since I used a hymn as my Sunday devotional. During my high school and college years, I was the song leader at the small country church I grew up attending. Half the people at that church were like family to me, and the other half were my family. The song leader I grew up with became unable to lead the singing, so he asked me if I would it. I had taken piano lessons when I was younger, so I had a little musical ability, i.e. I could almost carry a tune. I was never a very good song leader, and I only knew about two dozen or so songs well enough to be able to lead the congregation in singing.

If you don’t know, I was raised in the church of Christ (by the way, it is customary to not capitalize “church” in the name of the denomination, though churches of Christ do not believe they are a denomination nor Protestant, but a restoration of the original church). The churches of Christ have no musical instruments, though some of the more liberal ones today do. The churches of Christ believe that if it is not in the bible, then it should not be part of the religious service. So, the inspiration for a capella singing comes from Ephesians 5:19, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Being a song leader in a church of Christ is not the easiest task. There are no musical instruments to carry the tune. It is completely up to the song leader to do so. All I can say is, that I tried my best. I was never very good at it, and quite honestly, even after doing it for years, I was never comfortable at it. When I went away to graduate school, they found someone else to take over. I was so relieved.

I had a few favorite song: “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” “Send the Light,” “Shall We Gather at the River?,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” and a few others. “Amazing Grace” was always a favorite of mine. The service always began with two songs sung while seated before the main prayer. Then, we would stand for the third song just before the preacher got up to give his sermon, and I often sang “Amazing Grace” for this song. After the sermon, we would sing the invitational, a call for those who wanted to join the church and be baptized. After the invitational, we served communion. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is served every Sunday in the church of Christ. After communion, we sang the closing song, my favorite being “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and “Unclouded Day.” The latter begins with “O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,” and as long as I could get out the “O” in the right key, this one always went smoothly because someone else would pick it up and keep it going in tune.

Amazing Grace
By John Newton

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come:
’tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.

“Amazing Grace” is one of the best-loved and most often sung hymns in North America. It expresses John Newton’s personal experience of conversion from sin as an act of God’s grace. At the end of his life, Newton (1725-1807) said, “There are two things I’ll never forget: that I was a great sinner, and that Jesus Christ is a greater Savior!” This hymn is Newton’s spiritual autobiography, but the truth it affirms—that we are saved by grace alone—is one that all Christians may confess with joy and gratitude. I, however, believe that it takes faith and good works. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Now, back to Newton’s story.

Newton was born into a Christian home, but his godly mother died when he was seven, and he joined his father at sea when he was eleven. His licentious and tumultuous sailing life included a flogging for attempted desertion from the Royal Navy and captivity by a slave trader in West Africa. After his escape, he himself became the captain of a slave ship. Several factors contributed to Newton’s conversion: a near-drowning in 1748, the piety of his friend Mary Catlett (whom he married in 1750), and his reading of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ

In 1754 he gave up the slave trade and, in association with William Wilberforce, eventually became an ardent abolitionist. After becoming a tide-surveyor (customs inspector) in Liverpool, England, Newton came under the influence of George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley and began to study for the ministry. He was ordained in the Church of England and served in Olney (1764-1780) and St. Mary Woolnoth, London (1780-1807). His legacy to the Christian church includes his hymns as well as his collaboration with William Cowper in publishing Olney Hymns (1779), to which Newton contributed 280 hymns, including “Amazing Grace.”

Newton wrote “Amazing Grace” to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have been chanted by the congregation. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns. “Amazing Grace” was published in six stanzas with the heading “1 Chronicles 17:16-17, Faith’s review and expectation.” After being published, the hymn settled into relative obscurity in England.

In the United States, “Amazing Grace” became a popular song used by Baptist and Methodist preachers as part of their evangelizing, especially in the South, during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than twenty melodies. In 1835, American composer William Walker set it to the tune known as “New Britain” in a shape note format; this is the version most frequently sung today.

With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.


No Matter What

No Matter What
Songwriters: Tobias Martin Gad / Calum Scott

When I was a young boy I was scared of growing up
I didn’t understand it but I was terrified of love
Felt like I had to choose but it was outta my control
I needed to be saved, I was going crazy on my own

It took me years to tell my mother, I expected the worst
I gathered all the courage in the world

She said, “I love you no matter what
I just want you to be happy and always be who you are”
She wrapped her arms around me
Said, “Don’t try to be what you’re not
‘Cause I love you no matter what”
She loves me no matter what

I got a little older wishing all my time away
Riding on the pavement, every sunny day was grey
I trusted in my friends then all my world came crashing down
I wish I never said a thing, ’cause to them I’m a stranger now

When I ran home I saw my mother, it was written on my face
Felt like I had a heart of glass about to break

She said, “I love you no matter what
I just want you to be happy and always be who you are”
She wrapped her arms around me
Said, “Don’t try to be what you’re not
‘Cause I love you no matter what”
Yeah

Now I’m a man and I’m so much wiser
I walk the earth with my head held higher
I got the love that I need
But I was still missing one special piece
My father looked at me

He said, “I love you no matter what
I just want you to be happy and always be who you are”
He wrapped his arms around me
Said, “Don’t try to be what you’re not
‘Cause I love you no matter what”
He loves me no matter what
And they love me no matter what

I mentioned to my friend Dylan that I was trying to figure out a song to finish up my “Musical March” posts. Songs, or at least the good one, always make great poetry. Dylan suggested this one. He also suggested “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge or “Montero” by Little Nas X, which are both songs I like, but when I listened to Calum Scott’s “No Matter What,” I had tears in my eyes. The song was very emotional for me. When I came out to my mother, I found out that her love was conditional. She would not love me “no matter what.” My father on the other hand told her that, I was their son, and they’d love me no matter what. While my mother always does what my father says (sometimes much to my dismay), I’m glad she listened this time. Yet, I’ll always know, and she often reminds me, that if it was up to her, she’d have disowned me.

Calum Scott describes “No Matter What” as his “most personal song” and the song he is “most proud of.” The song tells the story of Scott telling his parents he was gay and their reactions of loving him “no matter what.” Scott said “It was a song that I always had to write, and a song I never thought I’d be able to share. This song has so much bones behind it and has such a wider discussion, not only about sexuality but about acceptance.” Adding “This hopefully will be a movement. I want to help people, I want to inspire people, I want to make people more compassionate.”

I wish all parents loved their children “no matter what” especially when they come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, etc. I’ve known too many parents who put conditions on their love for their children. I don’t want children. At one time, I thought I did because that’s what was expected of me, but I knew I’d never make a good father, not because I wouldn’t love my child unconditionally, but I know I have a temper like my father, and I’d never put a child through that. However, if I did have a child, I would have loved them no matter what. I would be accepting and loving. I don’t understand how anyone can put conditions on the love they give their children.

I wish all parents would be loving and accepting, and I said as much to Dylan who told me, “We have a Heavenly Father who does. Those are His feelings toward us. And you have friends who love you very much too.” I agree with him and said, “I just need to be reminded of that sometimes.” He wisely replied, “Yes, we all do!” We are all part of God’s family, and many in the LGBTQ+ community make our own families. I know I have people that I love and cherish, as much, and sometimes more so, than my own biological family (I’m referring to you here, Susan). Cherish the people in your life who love you “no matter what.”


I Like Boys

I Like Boys
Song by Todrick Hall
Songwriters: Carl Seante Mcgrier / Jean-Yves G. Ducornet / Kofi Owusu / Todrick Dramaul Hall

Mama come, come doll, take a seat
There’s someone you know that you’ve got to meet
So brace yourself for the big reveal
He’s about my height when he’s not in heels
Some boys play basketball
He played house with ratchet dolls
It’s not Santa Claus, it’s time for applause
It’s comin’ out the closet

Mama, I like boys, I like pecs
Like them arms when they flex
Like that print in them sweats
Tell them girls, “Thank you, next”
I like when they text me sexy pics of ’em
Like them abs when there’s six of ’em
Tell them girls I’m sorry
I like boys

Mama, boys like me (I like boys who like boys)
Mama (I like boys who like boys)
Work (I like boys who like boys)
Mama (I like boys who like)
Boys like me, yeah (boys like me)
Yeah, they do (boys like me)
Ooh (boys like me)
Motherfuckin’ boys like me (bitch)

I like when they shake it, shake it
I like when they grind real slow (real slow)
I like when they almost naked (damn)
Tell dad I’m so homo
Lights off, doors shut
Tall, dark, clean-cut
Thick with a bubble butt, yup

Mama, I like boys, I like pecs
Like them arms when they flex
Like that print in them sweats
Tell them girls, “Thank you, next”
I like when they text me sexy pics of ’em
Like them abs when there’s six of ’em
Tell them girls I’m sorry
I like boys

Mama, boys like me (I like boys who like boys)
Mama (I like boys who like boys)
Work (I like boys who like boys)
Mama (I like boys who like)
Boys like me, yeah (boys like me)
They do (boys like me)
Haha (boys like me)
Motherfuckin’ boys like me (bitch)

Style like they name Harry
Chocolate like Tyrese
I pick him up at Barry’s
Crunch, Planet Fitness
Shirt off in the lawn
Sizzlin’ like grease
By day his name Gaston
By night I call him Beast

Bitch, B to the O to the Y to the S
Boys will be boys and with boys I’m obsessed
Boys in their gym clothes, boys in a dress
And if boys are a crime then I’m under arrest
‘Cause I’ve been boy crazy since the boy scouts
Fuck the closets, let the boys out
Don’t be a camel when you are a llama, period
No comma, bring on all the drama

Mama, I like boys, I like pecs
Like them arms when they flex
Like that print in them sweats
Tell them girls, “Thank you, next”
I like when they text me sexy pics of ’em
Like them abs when there’s six of ’em
Tell them girls I’m sorry
I like boys

Mama, boys like me (I like boys who like boys)
Hahaha (I like boys who like boys)
Work (I like boys who like boys)
Mama (yeah) (I like boys who like)
Boys like me (sorry) (boys like me)
Not sorry (boys like me)
(Boys like me)
Motherfuckin’ boys like me, bitch

“I Like Boys” is a song by American singer Todrick Hall; he co-produced and co-wrote the song with Jean Yves Ducornet. Hall released the song during Pride 2019. The video opens with Hall coming out to his mother played by Luenell. The video shifts to a desert with Hall surrounded by male dancers and a camel. The song celebrates Hall’s sexuality, featuring color, cultural references, and male nudity. 

Hall describes “I Like Boys” as campy, and I would agree. I am sure it is not to everyone’s taste, but I suspect a lot of us can identify with what Hall says in the song:

I like when they almost naked
Tell dad I’m so homo
Lights off, doors shut
Tall, dark, clean-cut
Thick with a bubble butt, yup

Mama, I like boys, I like pecs
Like them arms when they flex
Like that print in them sweats

Todrick Hall (born April 4, 1985) is an American singer, songwriter, and choreographer. He gained national attention on the ninth season of American Idol. Following this, he amassed a huge following on YouTube with viral videos including original songs, parodies, and skits. He aspires to be a role model for LGBTQ and people of color. He once again gained notoriety in 2022 for his tactless and manipulative behavior on the third season of Celebrity Big Brother.

Starting with season eight, Hall became a resident choreographer and occasional judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. From 2016 to 2017, Hall starred as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Later in 2017, he began appearances as Billy Flynn in Chicago on Broadway and the West End.

As a singer-songwriter he has released four studio albums, including the visual albums Straight Outta Oz (2016) and Forbidden (2018). In 2020 he released an EP, Quarantine Queen, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic featuring “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrub”, and was the international host of Global Pride 2020.


Younger Me

Younger Me
Songwriters: Kendell Marvel / John Osborne / Thomas Osborne

Younger me
Made it harder than it had to be
Trying hard to dodge my destiny
Would get the best of me

Younger me
Way too young to pace a bedroom floor
Always dreamed of kicking down the door
What were you waiting for

Younger me
Was as reckless as he should have been
Close calls and downfalls and getting back up again
And doing it all again

Younger me
Overthinking, losing sleep at night
Contemplating if it’s worth the fight
If he only knew he’d be alright
Yeah, younger me

Youth ain’t wasted on the young
These trips around the sun
I needed every one
To get where I’m standing now
It’s an uphill road to run
For my father’s son
Keep it together
It won’t be that way forever

Younger me
Hanging out but not quite fitting in
Didn’t know that being different
Really wouldn’t be the end
Younger me (yeah)

Yeah
Yeah, oh
Yeah

Youth ain’t wasted on the young
These trips around the sun
I needed every one
To get where I’m standing now
It’s an uphill road to run
Yeah, for my father’s son
Keep it together
It won’t be that way forever

Younger me
You got me where I am today
Got a few things right along the way
You’ll see, just wait
Younger me

About the Song

T.J. Osborne publicly came out as gay in an interview with Time on February 3, 2021. Following his coming out, Osborne wrote “Younger Me” as a letter to his younger self. Like many of us who have come out, Osborne said, “I’ve always wished I could speak to my younger self, give him a hug and show him who he’d become and what he’d achieve. Once I came out, that feeling was so overwhelmingly strong that this song was born.”

One of the things that makes country music so popular is that it is relatable. “Younger Me” blends that relatable country storytelling with a bit of a pop anthem. The song is a refreshing take on country music nostalgia. Often, nostalgic songs look back fondly on the songwriter’s childhood and simpler times, and the present is either presented as hard or having lost its innocence along the way. “Younger Me” is a different kind of story.

The song perfectly encapsulates a more compelling kind of nostalgia that does not rewrite the complexities and confusion of childhood: “Overthinking, losing sleep at night / contemplating if it’s worth the fight”. The lyrics are crisp and vital, evoking specific details (“To pace a bedroom floor”), and are wonderfully free of cliché. For Brothers’ Osborne, the future hold both threat and possibility, and the past contains both hurt and experiences from which to learn and grow. 

Brothers Osborne’s music has always had a broad appeal amongst pop and country fans, and “Younger Me” perfects this balance. This is a dazzling pop anthem if ever I heard one, yet the sharp storytelling proves that Osborne is a bona fide country songwriter too. 

T.J. Osborne is gay and proud with this song and shows that it is possible not only to be queer in country music, but also to celebrate these aspects of ourselves. “Younger Me” is the perfect embrace that a queer kid might need, a Pride anthem for country music fans.

Thank you, Dylan, for introducing me to this song.


Follow Your Arrow

Follow Your Arrow
Songwriters: Shane L. Mcanally / Kacey Musgraves / Brandy Lynn Clark

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
You don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a horrible person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack

You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t
So you might as well just do
Whatever you want

So, make lots of noise (hey)
Kiss lots of boys (yup)
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t

Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

If you don’t go to church
You’ll go to hell
If you’re the first one on the front row
You’re self-righteous son of a-

Can’t win for losin’
You’ll just disappoint ’em
Just ’cause you can’t beat ’em
Don’t mean you should join ’em

So, make lots of noise (hey)
Kiss lots of boys (yup)
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t

Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

Say what you think (Say what you think)
Love who you love (Love who you love)
‘Cause you just get so many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once

So make lots of noise (hey)
Kiss lots of boys (yup)
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s what you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, I would

And follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

Kacey Musgraves’ single, ‘Follow Your Arrow,’ caused some controversy in the often non-accepting country music industry when it came out. But according to the up-and-coming singer, the song started out as a simple gesture to a close friend. Musgraves said, “It started off as a poem, honestly, for this friend who was going off to Paris for four months studying and she was leaving everything she knew behind, going to a foreign country [and] didn’t know the language. I gave her this little arrow necklace and I wrote a little poem and it had ‘follow your arrow’ in it, ‘kiss lots of boys,’ and it kind of started there, but it turned into a bigger idea.”

The song is about self-acceptance, imploring listeners to not worry too much about whether others judge their life choices. The song’s live and let live lyrics regarding gay people came just three years after Chely Wright made headlines by being the first country star of her caliber to come out of the closet. Although some potential fans surely write off Musgraves as too liberal, the song didn’t halt Musgraves success. Either Wright and other openly gay country singers, like Billy Gillman, made a significant enough impact on changing listeners’ minds in a short span of years, or Musgraves’ ageless messages of loving your neighbor and minding your own business overshadowed socio-political divisiveness enough for her not to get banished from country music.

 I thought I’d do a Musical March for my poetry posts this month. Some of the greatest songs either began as poems like “Follow Your Arrow” did or they are poetry within themselves.


Amazon Knows

When I was younger, there was an Auburn football and baseball player named Bo Jackson, one of the best to ever play for Auburn University and one of the most famous football players to come out of Auburn University. When he went to play professionally in the NFL and MLB, he did a series of Nike ads with the slogan “Bo Knows.” Jackson was the first athlete in the modern era to play professional baseball and football in the same year. He was a suitable spokesman for Nike’s shoe geared toward an athlete engaged in more than one sport or with little time between activities to switch to sport-specific footwear. The premise behind the ads was that Bo knows everything and can do anything.

Like “Bo Knows,” it’s incredible what Amazon.com knows about us. Because I have Amazon Prime, I also have Amazon Music. One of the features of Amazon Music is a station called “My Soundtrack,” in which Amazon picks music they think you will like. When I was driving to meet my new apartment manager to sign my lease, I listened to the “My Soundtrack” station. All the songs it played were songs I could sing along to and knew all of the lyrics. The playlist it began to play went something like this:

  • “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
  • “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
  • “Harper Valley PTA” by Jeannie C. Riley
  • “You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin'” by David Allan Coe
  • “Ode to Billy Joe” by Bobbie Gentry
  • “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter” by Loretta Lynn
  • “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams
  • “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton
  • “Act Naturally” by Buck Owens

Those are the ones I can remember at the moment. I guess it knows me pretty well. I love classic country music. Though my taste in music can be rather eclectic at times, you can usually bet that I can sing along to it if it’s classic country.

Anyway, it’s amazing what information the internet gleams from us. Sometimes it’s downright scary. Amazon has a fantastic algorithm to determine what I might like, and TikTok is just as good about what I might like. The internet gods seem to know my taste in men and my nostalgia for classic country music. However, dating apps can’t seem to match me up with anyone who wants to match up with me. They need to work with Amazon and TikTok to get their algorithms to work a bit better.

In other news, I signed my new lease and will be moving into my apartment the first week of April. It is officially mine on April 1. I’m so excited, but now I have to get packed. Also, the pain from my dental work came and went all day yesterday. I ended up taking a sick day. I expect that I will be at the museum today working. I have a few things that I need to do, so I can’t take another day off. I haven’t been to the museum since Saturday, so I have some catching up to do.


Heaven

My friend Dylan sent me this song, and I immediately fell in love with it. It seems very appropriate for a blog post. The song details Sivan’s struggle with coming out as gay. He explains “When I first started to realize that I might be gay, I had to ask myself all these questions—these really really terrifying questions. Am I ever going to find someone? Am I ever going to be able to have a family? If there is a God, does that God hate? If there is a heaven, am I ever going to make it to heaven?” I think many of us have asked these same questions, especially those of us who grew up in a religious family.

In the video, the black and white clip, shows Sivan being embraced by a man whose face is not shown, although it was later proven that it was the singer’s boyfriend, Jacob Bixenman, while being soaked in the rain and pays homage to the LGBTQ movements and accomplishments that have come before him. The clip shows assassinated gay rights leader Harvey Milk alongside footage of Pride parades and same-sex weddings. Sivan’s message that accompanied the clip read; “We have always been here. we will always be here. this video is dedicated to all who’ve come before me and fought for our cause and those who now continue the fight. in dark and light times, let’s love forever.” 

Enjoy


O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees; oh, hear the angel voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born

O night divine
O night
O night divine
Night divine

When I was a child, I had a Christmas CD, and one of the songs was Mahalia Jackson’s version of “O Holy Night.” I immediately fell in love with it, and it has been one of my favorite Christmas songs ever since.

“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol. Originally based on a French-language poem by poet Placide Cappeau, written in 1843, with the first line “Minuit, chrétiens! c’est l’heure solennelle” (Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour) that composer Adolphe Adam set to music in 1847. The English version is by John Sullivan Dwight. The carol reflects on the birth of Jesus as humanity’s redemption.

In Roquemaure at the end of 1843, the church organ had recently been renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest persuaded poet Placide Cappeau, a native of the town, to write a Christmas poem. Soon afterwards that same year, Adolphe Adam composed the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music, wrote the English version in 1855.


Todrick Hall

If you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR), then you likely know who Todrick Hall is. I’ve always found him incredibly sexy, and I do like some of his music. Starting with season eight, Hall became a resident choreographer and occasional judge on RPDR. In addition to RPDR, Hall is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, director, choreographer, and YouTuber. He gained national attention on the ninth season of the televised singing competition American Idol, where he made it to the semi-finals. Following this, he amassed a following on YouTube with viral videos including original songs, parodies, and skits. He aspires to be a role model for LGBTQ+ and people of color, and includes his experiences as a Black gay man in his art. 

As a singer-songwriter he has released four studio albums, including the visual albums Straight Outta Oz (2016) and Forbidden (2018). In 2020 he released an EP, Quarantine Queen, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic featuring “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrub,” and was the international host of Global Pride 2020. On June 8, 2021, Hall released his fourth studio album, Femuline, which was preceded by the singles “Boys in the Ocean” and “Rainin’ Fellas.” The album is inspired by gay pride and features appearances from Chaka Khan, Tyra Banks, Brandy, Nicole Scherzinger and Ts Madison. He’s also released trilogy of EPs titled Haus Party, Pt. 1, Haus Party, Pt. 2, and Haus Party, Pt. 3.

I particularly enjoy two of his songs. One of them is his new release “Rainin’ Fellas,” and the other is his 2019 song “I Like Boys” from his EP Haus Party, Pt. 1.


Clair de lune

Clair de lune (English “Moonlight”)
By Paul Verlaine

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

 _________________

(English Translation)

Your soul is a chosen landscape
Where charming masquerades and dancers are promenading,
Playing the lute and dancing, and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

While singing in a minor key
Of victorious love, and the pleasant life
They seem not to believe in their own happiness
And their song blends with the light of the moon,

With the sad and beautiful light of the moon,
Which sets the birds in the trees dreaming,
And makes the fountains sob with ecstasy,
The slender water streams among the marble statues.

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“Clair de lune” (English “Moonlight”) is a poem written by French poet Paul Verlaine in 1869. It is the inspiration for the third and most famous movement of Claude Debussy’s 1890 Suite bergamasque. Debussy also made two settings of the poem for voice and piano accompaniment. The poem has also been set to music by Gabriel Fauré, Louis Vierne and Josef Szulc.

Paul-Marie Verlaine (30 March 1844 – 8 January 1896) was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement and the Decadent movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle (“end of century”) in international and French poetry.

Paul Verlaine was born in a town called Metz in northeastern France in 1844. He received his formal education from what is now the Lycee Condorcet and originally found a job in France’s civil service, despite the fact that he had been writing poetry from an early age; he published his first poem before his twentieth birthday.

Poet Charles Marie Rene Leconte de Lisle, who led the Parnassian movement, heavily influenced Verlaine in the beginning. The Parnassian movement was a style of poetry which utilized emotional detachment and a strict adherence to form. Verlaine was also influenced by the many people he socialized with, most of whom made up the intellectual and artistic elite of the day.

His first book of poetry, Poemes saturniens, was published in 1866. Four years later, Verlaine’s life underwent massive changes; he got married to Mathilde Maute de Fleurville and joined the French equivalent of the National Guard, though he later became a supporter of the Paris Commune, a group of anarchists and Marxists that took control of Paris from March to May. When a large number of Commune members (called Communards) were killed and imprisoned after the fall of their government, Verlaine escaped to Pas-de-Calais, returning in 1871.

In 1872, Verlaine began his first homosexual affair, though he had probably had homosexual experiences before then. He received a letter from the younger poet Arthur Rimbaud, and Verlaine’s reply was, “Come, dear great soul. We await you; we desire you.” Though Verlaine’s wife was pregnant at the time, Rimbaud came to stay with the older poet and his seventeen-year-old wife. Later that year, Verlaine and Rimbaud lived together in London, having abandoned Mathilde. Both poets frequently drank absinthe and used hashish, living in poverty and making a living by teaching and getting an allowance from Verlaine’s mother. The relationship grew very strained, and Verlaine shot his lover in the wrist during an alcoholic furor just days after the pair had split and subsequently reunited in Brussels.

Rimbaud originally refused to press charges, but Verlaine’s increasingly violent and odd behavior forced the younger man to seek protection. A judge sentenced Verlaine to two years in prison following testimony from Mathilde. Not even a last-second change of heart from Rimbaud could save Verlaine; the Symbolist poet spent two years in prison in the Belgian city of Mons. While there, Verlaine converted to Roman Catholicism, which spurred him to write further poems. Rimbaud mocked Verlaine’s conversion to Catholicism. Verlaine also managed to release another collection of poems while imprisoned, Romances sans paroles. Upon his release, Verlaine worked as a teacher in various cities in England. He returned once more to France to teach and fell in love with one of his students, Lucien Letinois. When Letinois died of typhus in the 1880’s, Verlaine was devastated and spiraled into drug and alcohol abuse.

Verlaine spent the rest of his days drinking absinthe in Parisian cafes and using drugs, though by this time the public’s love of his work allowed him to draw an income. His peers even voted to bestow the title “France’s Prince of Poets” upon Verlaine in 1894. two years later, Verlaine died from drugs and alcohol on 8 January 1896. He was 51. He was buried in the Cimetière des Batignolles.

Verlaine’s poetry was admired and recognized as ground-breaking and served as a source of inspiration to composers. Gabriel Fauré composed many mélodies, such as the song cycles Cinq mélodies “de Venise” and La bonne chanson, which were settings of Verlaine’s poems. As mentioned above, Claude Debussy set to music Clair de lune and six of the Fêtes galantes poems, forming part of the mélodie collection known as the Recueil Vasnier; he also made another setting ofClair de lune, and the poem inspired his Suite bergamasque. Reynaldo Hahn set several of Verlaine’s poems as did the Belgian-British composer Poldowski.Verlaine’s work was characterized by lurid content and common themes including sex, urban life, and fatality. He often used repeated sounds to evoke certain moods and emotions. Verlaine’s poem “Chanson d’Automne” was used during World War II by the BBC to signal to the French resistance that Operation Overlord was to begin. The 1995 film Total Eclipse was based on Verlaine’s relationship with Rimbaud; David Thewlis and Leonardo DiCaprio played Verlaine and Rimbaud, respectively.

This video of Clair de Lune contains moonlight paintings by the Victorian painter John Atkinson Grimshaw. In this recording, Stanley Black conducts his arrangement of Clair de Lune with the London Symphony.