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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… the soundtrack to Pride June 27, 2020

Posted by Tomboktu in Uncategorized.
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It’s Pride weekend in Dublin, so this weekend, I’ll mostly by listening to the soundtrack of the 2014 film ‘Pride’ (available to rent online from the British Film Institute for £3.25). The film tells a fictional story that draws heavily on the real story of LGSM, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, which was a group set up a few weeks after the 1984 London Pride parade following a successful bucket collection at that parade. LGSM twinned with a mining community in the Dulais valley in south Wales and raised funds outside gay bars and clubs in London to help feed the families of the miners in the valley during the 1984-1985 miners’ strike.

There were a few small complications in compiling the videos in this post. One is that a 2-CD album was released at the same time as the film, but it contains 24 tracks that don’t appear in the film. Including them here would make for too long a post. A second is that the credits at the end of the film list a few items that aren’t on the CD and which do not appear to have been released anywhere else. (Also, two pieces listed in the credits in the film are anomalies, which I explain below.)

Most of the music in this week’s TWIMBLT post is music that characters in the film can hear. (When putting this post together, I learnt that that kind of music has an adjective: diegetic.) Three exceptions are the first video and the last two videos, which are played over some opening and closing credits.

1 Pete Seeger – Solidarity Forever

An extract from Pete Seeger’s Solidarity Forever is played over the opening production credits (‘Pathé, BBC Films, Proud Films and BFI present‘, etc.) and these credits are intercut with documentary footage from the miners’ strike — I think it is the police attacks at Orgreave. The song reappears in the dramatic action, when LGSM members sing a chorus from it to celebrate finally making contact with a mining community. Singing that song was not part of the script, but the director used a take where the actors spontaneously chose to sing it as part of the scripted

"LGSM celebrate their victory. Hugging & Cheering."

 

 

 

The first song we hear in a dramatised scene is the film is 2 What Difference Does It Make by The Smiths, which is played at the 1984 post-pride party in the flat above Gay’s the Word bookshop. I haven’t included it here because the world has had enough Morrissey.

Ten of the remaining 16 songs in the film (that is, not including the two in the closing credits) are from the period between 1981 and 1984, with a good smattering of gay artists among them. That is a historical reflection of the period when the film is set, but for some of us — me included — it can evoke feelings of what it was like to be gay at that time.

3 Soft Cell – Tainted Love

 

 

4 Pete Shelley – Homosapien

The choice of Pete Shelley’s Homosapien is obviously an example of a song from the time with a gay theme. (I love the pun ‘homosuperior’ for the gay term ‘top’.) It also has a link to the main story: it was one of the songs Pete Shelley played at a benefit concert in the Hacienda organised by the Manchester LGSM.

 

 

5 Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes

 

 

6 Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love

 

 

7 Culture Club – Karma Chamelion

 

 

8 Shirley & Company – Shame Shame Shame

 

 

9 Paul Robeson – Drink to Me Only Thine Eyes

Paul Robeson’s Drink to Me Only Thine Eyes is well outside the 1980s. In the film, it is background music in a Christmas scene in the miners’ hall in the Dulaith Valley. I think it’s not diegetic, though it’s possible it’s intended to be a record playing in the hall as the miners’ and their children and LGSM guests socialise in the evening after a bingo session. Diegetic or not [I’m getting good value from my new word this weekend], it does add a hint of a Christmassy atmosphere to the scene. But it is apt for ways not covered in the film. Not only did Robeson share a similar left-wing political outlook with the characters in the film, he also had a strong connections with Wales. In 1957, while denied a passport by the US authorities, he got around the travel ban and sang live at the miners’ eisteddfod via transatlantic cable.

 

 

10 Bronwen Lewis – Bread and Roses

 

 

11 Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – I Second That Emotion

 

 

12 Frank Solivan – Across the Great Divide

 

 

13 King – Love & Pride

 

 

14 Bronski Beat – Why?

Mark Ashton, who, with Mike Jackson, organised the collection for the miners at the 1984 Pride parade that led to the formation of LGSM had been a friend of Jimmy Somerville before Somerville was famous. (A 1982 documentary film, Framed Youth: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts, made by the Lesbian and Gay Youth Project, includes both of them.) Bronski Beat’s singles Smalltown Boy and Why? in the UK singles charts reached, respectively, no. 3 in June and no. 6 in September 1984. In December that year, LGSM organised the ‘Pits and Perverts’ ball, with Bronski Beat as the headline act. It raised so much money that the Dulais miners support group felt they could not keep all of the proceeds for their own community and they distributed some of it to other mining communities.

 

 

15 Dead Or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

 

 

16 Yazoo – Situation

 

 

17 Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax

 

 

18 Schubert Trout Quintet, Movement No. 4

[A different version from the film]

Here is the first of the two anomalies I mention above. Schubert’s Trout Quintet is not listed in the film credits. What is listed is No. 1 in D-flat major Minute, with Arthur Rubinstein named as the performer. Unhelpfully for a piece of classical music, the credits do not name a composer. A search using the information in the credits in the film produces links to Arthur Rubinstein playing Chopin’s Minute Waltz, which has quite a famous tune. The problem is that that tune does not appear in the film. There is a scene in which a piece of classical music is played — when Joe arrives home to a christening — and it is an arrangement of one of two similar pieces by Schubert. I think this one sounds most like the extract in the film. (The other option is the melody to Schubert’s song Die Forelle, but the tempo of that is faster.)

 

 

19 Billy Bragg – There Is Power in a Union

The final two songs in the film are not diegetic [last time I’ll use that word here], and both were written after the events portrayed in the film. Billy Bragg’s There is Power in a Union is played over the characters marching in the 1985 Pride parade, when the South Wales miners marched in solidarity with the lesbians and gays who had supported them during the strike. At this stage, the characters have no dialogue and instead, paragraphs are displayed summarising key real-life events and people. Among them are that for the first time a motion on lgb equality was adopted at the British Labour Party’s conference a year after the strike, and that one of the key factors behind that was the block vote of the NUM.

Another fact sets up the context for the final song that is played over the credits. Mark Ashton, the text tells us, died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 26. Jimmy Somerville — at that stage in The Communards — wrote For a Friend in memory of Mark.

 

 

20 The Communards – For A Friend

 

 

*** — *** — ***

The second anomaly I referred to above the videos is a listing in the music credits for an item titled ‘AIDS — Monolith’. That was a 45-second film made as part of an information campaign run by the British government in 1987. It appears in the film as a TV advert when the invented character Joe is watching television with his family at Christmas 1984. (The director of Pride Matthew Warchus knew he was taking some creative license by using it in a scene that is set a few years before the advertisement was actually made.) I assume it is listed in the credits as a condition for its use by the owners of the rights to it, though I don’t know why it is included in the music credits, between I Second That Emotion and Love and Pride.

Supplementary material

1: Three documentaries made at the time, two on LGSM, the third a film with Mark Ashton, who was to set up LGSM.

All Out! Dancing in Dulais — Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners

 

 

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners at The Hacienda

 

 

Framed Youth: Revenge of the Teenage Perverts

 

 

2: Some ‘long reads’

In 2019 the open-access scholarly journal, Open Library of Humanities, published a special issue dedicated to the film. If you like the ‘long reads’ in some newspapers or on thejournal.ie, then you’ll probably like some of the articles in the special issue. Here are some quotation to whet your appetite

“My own mediated memories of the miner’s strike, the government’s AIDS advertising campaign and the music of the era come flooding back whenever I watch the film. Pride is an important film that tells current and future generations that queer folk were involved in one of Britain’s longest-running industrial disputes: a dispute that left an indelible mark on both the cultural psyche of the nation and on the lives of those directly involved. The history of LGBTQ people remains precarious, marginalised and unknown by much of British society. Any attempt to tell part of that history is important.”
Sharif Mowlabocus, ‘No politics … We’re a Mardi Gras now’: Telling the story of LGSM in 21st-Century Britain. Open Library of Humanities, 5(1), p.63

“On 26 June 2015, the night before the London Pride march, LGSM held what they nicknamed a ‘Pints and Perverts’ party at the London Welsh Centre to celebrate the new connections that LGSM had forged with activist groups around the UK and internationally. Furthermore, as with the ‘Pits and Perverts’ fundraising ball LGSM held on 10 December 1984, it aimed to bring together different communities for an entertaining event which carried a political and socially conscious tone throughout. For attendees, who ranged from fans of the film to UK and international activists through to the Onllwyn miners LGSM had supported during the strike, it was an emotional and inspirational night which consisted of celebratory speeches, powerful spoken word poetry, a fundraising raffle and stalls, and supporters joining LGSM in dancing to songs from the Pride soundtrack. This last aspect in particular was an effective way of incorporating aspects of the film into an event which felt like a realised Pits and Perverts fundraising event from Pride, and was a powerful reminder of how the politics explored in Pride were integral to this event. Meeting fans of Pride from different parts of the UK, as well as from places as far away as Turkey, I, like others, was able to forge new friendships with people who had been inspired by Pride and LGSM’s story, and become involved in actively supporting causes important to them.”

Jade Evans, A Year of Pride: Revisiting the Activism Inspired by LGSM’s Support for the Onllwyn Miners. Open Library of Humanities, 5(1), p.38

“When Pride came out it was heralded as an inspiring lost story, perfect for our troubled times. My first thoughts about the importance, and perhaps my resistance to, the power of Pride to inspire, related to which stories do get remembered, and how wilfully others forgotten. I had researched and written about LGSM and the intersections between gay activism, trade union solidarity, popular culture and the Communist Party in my PhD and then in my first book, Gay Men and the Left […]

In the wake of industrial defeat, the identity groups get their consolation prize: Billy got to dance, the women of Dulais got a dildo, lesbians learnt the rules of Bingo, the band played one more time, but the miners lost.”

Lucy Robinson,  Thoughts on Pride: No Coal Dug. Open Library of Humanities, 5(1), p.37.

“In one of the laugh-out-loud moments in Pride, the character Gwen – an older woman from the mining town of Onllwyn – asks a charmingly innocent question of her new lesbian friends while they’re enjoying a drink together in the village club. Gwen frames the question with a statement that this information was very shocking to her – thus leading the spectator to infer that her query will be something related to sexual acts. However, this expectation is reversed by Gwen merely inquiring about the lesbians’ preferred choice of cuisine. Surely, they can’t all be vegetarian?

This article will argue that this sequence is a key example of Pride’s strategy of focalising gay liberation politics through the perspective of a charming, and most importantly, older character: a narrative technique that I shall label greywashing.”

Niall Richardson,  ‘What I was told about lesbians really did shock me. It can’t be true, can it? You’re all vegetarians?’: Greywashing Gay Shame in Pride. Open Library of Humanities, 6(1), p.4.

“In telling how a derided minority makes its way to the centre of public acceptability, Pride imparts a message of the importance of unexpected change. Its narrative elaborates the question of what constitutes the mainstream, and what transforms it; for at the same time that the cause of lesbian and gay rights finds unforeseen proponents in the mining communities, the latter’s class consciousness loses its definitive place in political identification. But while Pride takes up the cause of the marginalised, it does not do so by adhering to the alternative ethos of the 1980s left. Nor does it belong to established artistic traditions in the representation of the manual working class. Pride instead employs the two ways of contemplating the past, retro and nostalgia, whose cultural significance lies primarily in their desire to please. If Pride offers an example of political filmmaking then, it is as part of the attempt to build a left populism, distinguished by the endeavour to be accessible, engaging, and widely appealing.”

Louis Bayman, Can there be a Progressive Nostalgia? Layering Time in Pride’s Retro-Heritage. Open Library of Humanities, 5(1), p.19.

Comments»

1. WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2020

It’s a fantastic film. The analysis of the soundtrack and the film is very very interesting.

Liked by 1 person

2. Tiger2T - June 27, 2020

Great write-up Tomboktu. Makes me want to watch Pride again, again! Happy Pride!!

Liked by 1 person

3. sonofstan - June 27, 2020

Great piece.
One of the things that makes me smile walking around Leeds is the plaque to Soft Cell on the old polytechnic building in town, commemorating the foundation of the band there.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - June 27, 2020

Torch, one of the singles from NSEC by SC, is a particular favourite of mine and we’ll worth checking out a fascinating aspect of some of the vocals in it.

Liked by 1 person

4. Tomboktu - June 28, 2020

An anecdote.

In the film, when LGSM make their first trip to Wales, the three lesbian characters in the bus start singing (to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic) “Every woman is a lesbian at heart/ Every woman is a lesbian at heart“. You can hear the original of this song in a Pride march at 18 minutes 34 seconds into the documentary All Out! Dancing in Dulais — Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners in the supplementary material to the original post above.

In the film, the character Reggie decides to dispute this assertion: “You can’t possibly say that every woman is a lesbian.” followed, when challenged, with: “Because they’re not! Esther Rantzen isn’t a lesbian. My mum is not a lesbian.”

The lesbian characters respond to this by singing “Every woman is a lesbian at heart/ Every woman is a lesbian at heart/ Including Reggie’s mum“.

The character Reggie is based on Sligo man Reggie Blennerhassett, who you can see speaking at 6 minutes 3 seconds into the documentary All Out! Dancing in Dulais — Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners.

I have no idea whether Reggie Blennerhassett ever did get ribbed like his Pride character did, but for that film, his mother signed a release to permit the last line of the song to be used.

Liked by 1 person


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