Music

Never Heard of 'Em

Never Heard of 'Em: Lavender Country

Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.

LAVENDER COUNTRY

Lavender Country
(Gay Community Social Services of Seattle)

Here is an example of the kind of e-mail you say "YES" to:

From: Eli Sanders

I have a possible Never Heard of 'Em. I got slipped this record the other day called Lavender Country, which apparently is the first gay country album ever recorded (for real), and was produced here in Seattle in the 1970s, and is now kept in the archives of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Well, gollllleee! Has anyone heard of this? Actually, yes. The Seattle connection—lead singer/founder of Lavender Country, Patrick Haggerty, is a local, and the album was originally paid for and released in 1973 by Gay Community Social Services of Seattle, identified in the liner notes as an organization that provides support to "small homophile organizations"—means that if anyone should've heard of this album, it'd be PNW folks, and Haggerty has played at Pride before. But no one I've talked to has ever heard of Lavender Country, and half of them thought I was joking when I said this week I was covering the first gay country album. So let's correct this error together, shall we?

First: I obviously cannot be a judge of quality here. That is not my purpose or area of expertise. I am here only to respond in darkness and without context to the sounds that emanate from the speakers. And second, regardless of quality, the importance of this album is cemented. A gay country album from 1973? What a badass! Take a look at some of the song titles:

Come Out Singin'

Cryin' These Cocksucking Tears

Back in the Closet Again

Straight White Patterns

That said, I think you have to be in this for the lyrics and the history, not the music. The people I played this for grinned and laughed, and then their expressions turned slightly pained. It's so very '70s (I think endearingly so), and the arrangements are simple and straightforward. Haggerty's voice is very, very high. "He sounds like a country Billy Corgan," a friend offered. (Then I had to google who that is.) I found Lavender Country sweet, and it is crazy fun to listen to the lyrics. Like this: "Your ticklin' beard has got me geared/For a nice long day with you." Or this! "I see you stepping high with your tight blue jeans on/Strutting like a buttoned-down paragon/I reckon you're looking for some neckin', yes I do." Or this... "What would you do if I blew/ A kiss into your hair?/Would your pulses pound if I found/The stains in your underwear?" Really, this is just super-fun to play for your friends. I repeat: 1973. BADASS. Don't let fools music-snob you. It's Pride week!

I give this a "what's next, Magenta Grindcore?" out of 10. recommended

 

Comments (5) RSS

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1
you didn't know who Billy Corgan is, but you're familiar with grindcore. you're fuckin' awesome, Anna! seriously.
Posted by legacy builder on June 23, 2012 at 5:26 PM · Report this
2
hi. it's me. patrick haggerty. i'm still here, still alive and still singing, albeit to the senior communities of kitsap and pierce counties. most of the old timers in the lesbian gay movement remember lavender country, which was a kick and an "item" when it came out, died, and then enjoyed a bit of a rebirth when the country music hall of fame discovered it in 1999. it was later featured on country music television in a documentary titled "Forty Greatest Firsts In Country Music". frankly, the lesbian gay community has been "less than kind" to lavender country, and to most all of the early gay songwriters and singers. we have some bitterness to speak, in case anyone's interested. Everyone should take advantage of this friday's show at washington hall, 14th and yesler, sponsored by voices rising, and featuring "Blackberri", an early gay black blues singer and a dear old friend of mine, who put out an album of gay music shortly after lavender country came out. anyone who is interested can get a hold of me through eli sanders, who brought the album to the attention of the stranger,when he wrote an article about gay seattle pioneer faygele ben miriam
Posted by patrich h on June 26, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
3
I heard of this album years ago and have been trying to find it out here on the interweb. lol . Finally Someone did post a audio of "Cocksucking Tears" on you tube some time ago and I did listen to and loved it. It would be great to know where one could purchase a copy or download the full album.
Posted by roqstar26@msn.com on July 7, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
4
I heard of this album years ago and have been trying to find it out here on the interweb. lol . Finally Someone did post a audio of "Cocksucking Tears" on you tube some time ago and I did listen to and loved it. It would be great to know where one could purchase a copy or download the full album.
Posted by roqstar26@msn.com on July 7, 2013 at 8:40 AM · Report this
5
I just love the premise of this column, and your writing style, Anna. I'm glad Patrick chimed in. I interviewed him, and others, for a 3-part series I did in 2005 on my internet radio show Queer Music Heritage, and that's found here:
http://www.queermusicheritage.us/mar2005…

I'm all about giving pioneering LGBT artists their due.
Posted by JD Doyle on July 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM · Report this

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