respect Tom Robinson

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(gush warning)  

 only the very young and the very beautiful can be so aloof

this opening lyric of Tom Robinson’s song ‘War Baby’ (1983) spoken softly over  saxophone with the  keyboards creating a gentle relaxing atmosphere hints at sadness.   His alternating soft then demandingly passionate voice dominates and drives the song in stark  contrast to  the gentle pace and tone of the music.    He paints the fun and tensions of living in the gay scene “hanging out with the boys,   all swagger and poise…”  “…I’m scared,   so scared”  then  deftly shifts focus to bigger themes as he raises the pace “corresponding disasters every night on the TV,   sickening reality keeps gripping  me in its disgust”    The song just has so much in it.   It sounds good too   🙂   23 years later it’s still one of my favourite songs.   Tom’s been one of my personal hero’s since the late 1970’s.       The directness and poigniency of Tom’s beliefs and writing  in so many forms (songs, web-pages, DJ-ing)  is extremely impressive. To me he is awe inspiring.

Despite the original BBC ban on “Sing if you’re glad to be gay” it was heard in streets, homes, clubs and  during political  protests.    It was a wonderfully positive rallying song in a time when homophobia was much more overtly prevalent than today.    Followed by a notable turnaround  when the  BBC employed Tom as a World Service presentes then DJ and gave him awards for his documentary on the history of ‘gay music’.  

I was lucky enough to attend two of Tom’s birthday parties  in the mid 1990’s.  Able to luxuriate in listening to his conversations and singing in the intimacy of a small room….  


(gush over)

respect Tom Robinson
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one wonderful muse on “respect Tom Robinson”

  1. Neil writes:

    I actually bought this single when it was first released and I agree he is a first class artist. I also saw him at the Edinburgh festival and he played a great show (for about 3 hours! if I recall correctly). Interestingly, I played the song for some friends of mine from the Northeast of England and apparently the song was ruined for them because ‘War Baby’ in the Northeast vernacular means ‘our baby’.



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