The irrepressible Lady Gaga has now delivered her (likely to be a smash) Born This Way. It’s a thumping Gaga tune with some, in my opinion, messy production. Jump on over to Popjustice for a typically tongue in cheeky assessment of the point of the record. It’s a freedom anthem apparently but will be viewed by the legions of gay male fans as a gay anthem written just for them…gay pride and all. Let’s be honest Gaga is a marketing machine and the song will either connect with every ‘minority’ or just the gays. Perhaps it’s all part of her diversity and inclusion career policy. Time will tell. But anyway…way back in 1977… Carl Bean , a gay, out, African-American gospel singer and Christian minister released a song I Was Born This Way. Co-written by Bunny Jones, a straight black woman, and originally recorded by a gay black singer named Valentino she sold 15,000 copies out of the trunk of her car, before interesting Motown Records in the distribution rights. Berry Gordy said ‘You’ve got a hit record.’ Motown decided on Carl Bean to sing the new release after hearing his gospel recording – not even knowing he was gay. It could be said that its the definitive gay anthem as none of the others (“I am what I am”, “We are family”, “I will survive”) actually use the word gay and were mostly written and performed by straight people. No disrespect though, especially to the mighty Nile Rodgers/Chic.
Fast forward to 1990 and Dusty Springfield made a pop album “Reputation” on the back of her success with the PetShopBoys “What have I done to deserve this” a #2 smash in the UK. Two more UK singles followed “Nothing has been proved” and “In Private” which lead to making the album with the late, great Dan Hartman producing some of side one and PetShopBoys producing the other side. Included was a song “Born This Way” (buy) which was written by Geoffrey Williams & Simon Stirling and included Fonzi Thornton and Tawatha Agee (two of Chic’s vocalists) on backing vocals. It was released to clubs and radio as a promo but not available commercially. The lyrics clearly allude to the same ‘be strong and be who you are” sentiment as the original and now Gaga’s.
And take the time to know your mind
And leave it all behind you
That’s the way I am
Yeah – I was born this way” . This clip is a remix (which by the bassline) sounds like a PWL remix..
Saving the best til last… Ashford & Simpson wrote their song Born This Way for a musical which has been produced. This is fierce, soulful and my favourite.