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Aretha sings of God, and to God, her voice rising up to the heavens
Her lyrics on identity could have been written today, and she stood out with her unique style, confrontational and playful at the same time.
It is two weeks since my eardrum perforated on the train and I am still deaf.
“Concert in San Francisco in the 1990s. Audience complained about sound levels, you replied, ‘You don’t think I’m mixing the sound up here while I’m singing, do you?’ We cheered.”
I break songs down into small morsels, getting hooked by tiny details, passing moments that offer fleeting glimpses of heaven.
There is sand and pebbles and shells, but also the detritus of hundreds of years, stuff that has been chucked carelessly over the river wall.
My beginnings were as independent as you can get: if you sent a postal order to my home address, my parents’ home address in fact, I’d post you a cassette.
From Joshua Gamson’s The Fabulous Sylvester, I learnt of the birth of the San Francisco gay scene and the counterculture of the late 1960s.
On that album cover we look like the epitome of hunger, but we also look hip, and we knew it.
We blunder on, doing our best, accepting our differences. Good days, bad days.
Jake Shears’s memoir, Boys Keep Swinging, is a current example, packed with sharply told stories and proper moments of insider insight.