July 27, 2004 was my last day of work before I went on vacation to Texas to see my friends. It wasn’t a terribly busy day at work, but it was new release day. I was working in the music department at Barnes & Noble, and Tuesdays were the typical release date for most albums and it was always a day of resetting and displaying the newest items. Early in the day, a woman came in looking for Scissor Sisters. I had never heard of them, but they had a CD released that day. We had received two copies. She was very excited about it and told me I should check them out. It was a common recommendation from folks coming in to buy albums by their favorite artists. I rarely paid any attention to it. But this day was different. I was driving to Austin that evening, and really wanted something new to listen to on the way. I had already picked out another album, k.d. lang’s Hymns of the 49th Parallel, but I wanted something new. So, I picked up Scissor Sisters debut album blindly on the customer’s recommendation.
The drive from Tulsa to Austin isn’t very direct and goes through some very slow towns. I had been driving on US Route 75 for a while when I decided to give my new music a try. I popped it in, not knowing what to expect. “Laura” was fun and quirky… okay, okay… I could get into this. And then “Take Your Mama” played. Something struck me about that song in ways that most songs don’t. They were singing about my people. I had listened to LGBT artists before, which I now understood this band to be, but rarely did their songs speak to my experience or people I recognized. Not only was this album about people I understood, the music was so incredibly good. By the fourth track, “Mary,” I was starting to cry.
I pulled over in Henryetta, playing the stop off as a stop for gas. After getting gas, I called my friend Lori and told her about this band and how moved I was by them already. I felt silly, and it was silly. Life hadn’t felt terribly fair at that point. My friend John had died in May, and since I worked with him I was constantly aware that he was no longer there. It consumed me. I find my journeys through grief harder than they seem to be for others, at least based on the stories of other experiences. That point in my life felt like a series of losses. I had lost a grandma and a great grandma at the end of 2000, my other grandma in early 2002, and then my last living great grandma in June 2002. It had felt piled up and needed a lot of time for me to deal with, but before I had really fully dealt with it John died. For more than a year, during which time another friend passed away, I was extremely sensitive and didn’t know how to manage my feelings. So, there I was in Henryetta, Oklahoma calling a friend and crying because this band really understood gay people. I wasn’t ashamed then, and I am certainly not now.
I listened to the rest of the album when I got back on the road. It was such an amazing piece of art and I was in absolute awe. Even my least favorite tracks on the disc were songs I really enjoyed. This album changed the way I thought about music, and came to me in the exact moment I needed it. I’m so glad I was able to experience that album, as well as subsequent Scissor Sisters releases. They have all been wonderful.
Rylan Clark-Neal (1988-)
Celebrity Big Brother started a new season last week, and I’m hooked as usual. I think what makes this show so great, at least in the past few years, is Rylan Clark-Neal and his show Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Side. He’s exuberant and funny. As a former winner of the show, he is uniquely qualified to comment on the housemates and their experience. He is also clearly a massive super-fan of the franchise he is a part of. I like people who bring passion to their roles, regardless of what it is. It surprises me that I enjoy this type of show, but I will say in my defense that the UK take on this kind of reality show is much more about the people in the house and not as much about the scheming and plotting that is the US version of Big Brother. And honestly, I used to love that too.. but it has gotten so overly produced.
6 Drag Artists