Today is Jimmy Somerville's birthday. Since he first came to fame with Bronski Beat back in 1983 he has always been one of my most favourite pop stars and personal heroes. In the 1980s singers like Jimmy and Andy Bell from Erasure were out and proud for all of their fans who hadn't or couldn't reach that stage yet. I know pop music kept me sane when I was growing up but singers like Jimmy Somerville promised me that I wasn't the only one in the world. I used to not like Smalltown Town for years because it was too close to the bone. It would be the 1990s before I even met another gay guy but back in 1983 that song had such an effect on me. It made me think and question and wonder. I know other gay music fans; male, female and transgendered must have had their own relationship with that song when they first heard it too. It is just a great and powerful and beautiful song. It is our song that over time has become everyone's.
Jimmy has covered many songs both with Bronski Beat and The Communards and as a solo artist. In 2009 he recorded an album called Suddenly Last Summer which featured his versions of songs by other artists. It was first released only digitally and later a number of limited editions were released. I remember that fellow pop blogger David McDonagh loved that album on his blog David's Daily Dramas. That kindred spirit in Brighton always loves the best music. David's blog post on Jimmy and the Suddenly Last Summer album is here.
Looking at the list of songs that Jimmy covered you can see that we as gay men are universally drawn to the same wonderful songs and singers. On that album Jimmy covered songs by Blondie, The Doors, Dusty and the song I'm featuring on this post which dates back to at least 1915. It is Jimmy's cover of Black is the Colour (Of My True Love's Hair). It has been recorded by many different artists over the past 100 years including Nina Simone. Luka Bloom does a lovely version of it too. I like that it is a song that no one really knows if it was first sung to a man or a woman and that is what makes every interpretation special.
So on his birthday today here is Jimmy Somerville and a very beautiful cover of Black is the Colour (Of My True Love's Hair).