Our LGBT Histories: Music – Day 2
To mark LGBT History Month, 2013, Polari asked its contributors to recall a song that had an impact on their own stories.
‘The Logical Song’ – Supertramp
by Christopher Bryant
The Supertramp album Breakfast in America was an intrinsic part of my childhood because it was a cornerstone in my father’s eclectic music collection. He was a Hi-Fi buff, exacting about the treatment of records, and zealous about the separates that made up a high-grade sound system. In 1979, the year that Breakfast in America was released, he invested in a Linn Sondek turntable. It cost around £500 and included neither an arm nor a cartridge because the right combination of the three, it turned out, was considered an art. It was at the altar of this sound system that I learned about the wonder of music.
My father would talk to me about lyrics as well as music. I was tutored in the meaning of ‘The Logical Song’ before I’d turned 10. ‘The Logical Song’ is about the disjunct between the wonder of childhood and the conformity of adulthood. In the “clinical, intellectual, cynical” world of logic you have to “watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal”. The song is about holding on to the magic of the childhood imagination, continuing to ask questions, and not becoming “acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable”.
The radicalism of the 1970s gave way to the rule of “presentable” stock market suits in the 1980s. Thatcher’s mix of jingoism and deregulation, as well as Reagan’s supply-side economics, sowed the seeds of the current economic crisis and guided the way. I became aware of my sexuality in this conflicted time, which saw a backlash against gay rights under Thatcher’s administration, and hysteria in response to the AIDS crisis. The Right predictably turned to conformity and family values, branding any opposition “radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal”.
By that time, the ideas in ‘The Logical Song’ were a part of the way my mind worked. Looking back, it’s clear that it was not the music of the 1980s that helped me to come to terms with my sexuality, but the music I had listened to as a child. When I play Breakfast in America now I still feel the emotional connection first, and the intellectual one second. On remastered CD, through Cambridge Audio and Yamaha separates, ‘The Logical Song’ retains its power, and it reminds me of how my mind was opened to a world of possibility through the wonder of music.