While studying for my Doctorate I saw the talented Dr. Robert and marvelled at his ability to complete a Doctorate so young. In those days I used to confuse optimistic love songs with optimistic political songs.
Nursing a heavily chaffed-heart under a recent piercing, a 100% cotton vest and an outsized mohair jumper. Yet I still managed to believe this song was a rallying call to vote against Margaret Thatcher rather than an optimisitic love song. Planet Wendy can be pretty twisty at times.
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….