Say It Loud, Say It Proud: I Love Belle And Sebastian!!!

I am precious, clearly. I am a cornucopia of embittered odds and endings and too delicate to even finish this sentenc….. But I would not say Twee.

Twee, as adjective, reads as small and thin and weak. Precious…but not the ultimate masculine preciousness I  identify myself with….a very macho precious….believe me….. but more sort of a Smiths fan with a cold. Small and dark and head overly weighted with the winks and ways of this gobstopper rock.  Or a Cure fan on prom night.

Not me, nope. I am a red blooded American male.  Grade A, baby.  I came alive in the wild and wooly 70’s and am a product of our history since then. And maybe that’s the problem.

When I was a young rock and roller, it was Classic Rock (then known as ‘Rock’), and that was Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ted Nugent and Bad Company. Endless Who and Hendrix. Dangerous music was the teen rebellion soundtrack for a growing gang.  The most obscure and brutal Metal, NWA, anything with a pentagram (right up till Crue destroyed that with stripper dust and sadness).

And music that did not speak to us, did not speak to Harder, Faster and Dumber notions of Sex, Drugs….more drugs…OK, one more hit…and Rock and Roll….was called ‘gay’. Anything on the radio was gay. Every video that wasn’t ‘Number Of The Beast’ was gay. We liked our Metal violent, our Rock hard and identified the rest as unseemly for a heterosexual male to listen too.

I will gloss over how unintentionally hilarious this is with 4 syllables: Judas Priest.

What I remember was that music was another test of strength among you and your mates. I remember my brother buying the first B 52’s cassette and it upset me so much….made me feel so…weird…I whipped it out the window. Which he did not appreciate. I think Fred Schneider’s voice was an offense to my penis or some such thing. It made me uncomfortable.

I remember watching Joni Mitchell do ‘Coyote’ in ‘The Last Waltz’ with my stoner friends and we never got through the song. We would laugh at the lyric, leer at her chest and do terrible imitations of doggerel lyric and jazzy jam.

I don’t think we had a clue about Joni Mitchell, who I have to come to love deeply as an inventive lyricist…no, inventive everything related to the form. It was male bonding and gave us the opportunity to talk about how cool Deep Purples’ Burn’ record was (note: it really was).

And then I developed a secret. Secret sounds I would listen to when I was alone, and carried about on my Walkman like a Fellow Traveler kept his satchel.

No one could know. I didn’t tell my girlfriend for about a full year. It was ‘My Aim Is True’ and ‘Armed Forces’ that started it, leading into ‘East Side Story’ and ‘Singles and 45’s’. My secret lovers who really understood me.

We grow. I have learned to not use the word ‘gay’ in describing something I dint care for.  I listen to things now I can never have imagined.

But….Twee? Sigh.

I love Belle and Sebastian. Love. I am not causal about it. I don’t believe I have ever said it so publicly nor ever been so nervous saying it. But I do. Marry me, Stuart.

The sound of Belle and Sebastian is…Twee. It is not the word I would have chosen but it really hits upon many of the elements of the sound:  folk pop within a baroque arrangement, whisper near androgynous male singer, pomp and the circumstances of being pomp within the lyrics.

When I first heard them, that song was ‘Stars Of Track And Field’ and I was just simply unprepared for it.

What I was prepared for was the inner battle of teen ignorance versus wisdom: does this make me gay for loving Belle and Sebastian? Well…I am still mighty fond of woman but…does it????

It’s the subtlety that is at play in this music. The sounds are sometimes a Master Class in subtlety, but lyrically, they are not subtle. They are dark and strange and sex obsessed….just far better dressed with that cute Scottish accent.

Certain songs, and the better ones, are akin to a chamber quartet version of ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’.

Stuart Murdoch is Every-man….if Every-man is overly shy, overly romantic, funny, a little sick and obsessed with chicks.  So…Stuart Murdoch is the Every-man of JpKLand.

That does not make me gay.

I don’t think.




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