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George

By orangedrink on July 27, 2020 12:01 am

Two weeks ago, my husband selected the movie “Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives” for us to watch.  It is a documentary from 1978 made by a group of six LGBTQ filmmakers, where they interview 26 gay men and women about their lives and experiences.  The interviewees range in age from 18 to 77.  It is a fascinating documentary and is something that I wish I was exposed to as a kid.


In the film, one man named George shared his experience.  He mentioned how he was always attracted to and sought out older men, even as a young person.  You must imagine my bewilderment to see another person talk about intergenerational relationships, in a documentary from 1978, of all places!  He went on to share some stories about being in San Francisco in the 50s, a place he escaped to in search of other people like himself.  Here’s a clip from the film where he talks about José Sarria, a drag performer who later became the first openly gay candidate for public office in the USA:



I was really touched by the film, and especially George’s story, so I went online to look him up to see if I could email him and thank him and tell him how much I related to his story.  Unfortunately, I discovered that he passed away at age 64 due to complications from AIDS in 1994.  I felt like his story was my story, and there were so many things that I wanted to say to him, so this song was born.  George was a journalist, and I feel like this is my version of musical journalism; telling the untold stories.  The end harmony is like two people spanning different times and places, singing the same story/the same note.


I learned how to play a GMaj7 on guitar a month or so ago, and I’ve been putting it in every guitar song since.  I haven’t sang in a while, so I tried to practice a few days before recording.  I think I really need to stop recording the day that I write lyrics.  I think I can improve a few of the sung lines here, and I might touch them up before giving this an official release.  Really wild to go back to a stripped down voice + acoustic guitar piece after the recent Model:Cycles & Digitakt run I've been on.  My friend Bailey recently wrote up some tips on songwriting for Ladies Rock Milwaukee, and one of her structure ideas was Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, and I haven’t done a pre-chorus in a while, so I took that on here.  The first half of the song is “in the closet”, the second half is “out” (with only one instrumental measure in between, not two! *GASP*).  The lyrics “yes I am” is a shoutout to Melissa Ethridge’s album of the same name.  I was almost scared to say "HIV" in a song, thinking that there might be implications about me, but I realized this is what people living with HIV have to deal with - keeping a secret out of fear of being shamed by others.  I don't think HIV positive people deserve to live in shame and realized it would be hypocritical for me not sing about it because I don't want to be associated with it - so, I did it for George.


Lyrics:

I’m packing up and leaving, yes I am
Is it any wonder they can’t understand?
I’m trying to find a place for me to be a man
Will we get in trouble if we hold hands?


Lost in the crowd
Singing out loud


When I leave here, will there be somebody following or watching me?
When I leave here, will you promise not to say my name or acknowledge me?
When I leave here, however will I find someone to comfort me?
When I leave here, I’ll come back to just encourage you as you encourage me


And after all this time, I think I know
Even as a younger man, it started to show
But now I’m in the sunshine and I’m ready to grow
And even when I’m by myself I know that I’m home


Part of the crowd
Singing out loud


When I die here, will there be someone to say my name and remember me?
When I die here, will they mention my accomplishments or HIV?
When I die here, I hope you know I loved you all and I’m at peace
When I die here, will you make sharing my story your responsibility?


The weekly picture of Derek Jacobi will return next week, but this week: a tribute to George Mendenhall heart



Longer Obituary: http://obit.glbthistory.org/olo/imagedb … 0224_0.jpg



Thanks so much for your time and attention and letting me share with you.

This submission is licensed by author under CC Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike (BY-NC-SA)

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August 3, 2020 7:50 am

That's a great guitar and vocal recording you got there! A simple production, which really brings the voice and the vocals to a more central place. I liked the lyrics a lot. Good job.

August 3, 2020 1:39 pm

Agreed, solid vocals and the strumming guitars sounds good.

August 3, 2020 6:40 pm

It's a cool change of pace from your recent tracks and you got a really great acoustic guitar sound.  The vocals are nice too and couple with some poignant and thought-provoking lyrics.  A great tribute to George.

August 3, 2020 7:21 pm

Thanks for including the background details and story behind the song. That ascending vocal melody is cool (and sounds insanely hard to sing)

August 3, 2020 10:25 pm

Such a great song, and the performance gives more impact with its simplicity. Very nicely done! And thank you for the background, too--that really made it resonant!

August 4, 2020 3:24 am
Kedbreak136 wrote:

That's a great guitar and vocal recording you got there! A simple production, which really brings the voice and the vocals to a more central place. I liked the lyrics a lot. Good job.

Thank you so much, I worked really hard on the lyrics - so it means a lot to get a positive note on them!

djippy wrote:

Agreed, solid vocals and the strumming guitars sounds good.

Thanks!  I forgot to mention that I used a stereo microphone on the guitar, which might have been a first for me.

CosmicCairns wrote:

It's a cool change of pace from your recent tracks and you got a really great acoustic guitar sound.  The vocals are nice too and couple with some poignant and thought-provoking lyrics.  A great tribute to George.

Thanks, felt like a drastic change for my mind - I would like to think that he would have loved it!

zirafa wrote:

Thanks for including the background details and story behind the song. That ascending vocal melody is cool (and sounds insanely hard to sing)

Thanks for reading my 12 page essay smile  Yeah, it was super hard to sing, and I still think I could improve the notes, but there are some weird intervals fo sho

onezero wrote:

Such a great song, and the performance gives more impact with its simplicity. Very nicely done! And thank you for the background, too--that really made it resonant!

Thanks for reading it all!  It is scary to strip it down to voice and guitar, but I really wanted to push myself to meet the challenge.

August 4, 2020 3:25 am

i got you

August 4, 2020 3:30 am
Ipaghost wrote:

i got you

heart heart heart

I can always depend on you!

Derek is all like, "I'll be back for you next week, Drew..........."

August 4, 2020 3:54 pm

This is really nice, lovely chords and heartfelt lyrics. I appreciate the back story too. Thanks for sharing this.

August 4, 2020 10:24 pm

I really like these tracks of your where you sing with acoustic guitar incorporated, like "All these things in time" where you got a laid back but catchy style. Kind of reminds me of Rob Crow/Pinback in a way. I like the inspiration about the song and what it means to you, the intimate nature of the song really comes through.

August 5, 2020 6:56 am

You're never the only one, a thought both reassuring and a bit of a downer.

Your voice is absolutely fabulous in this one.

August 5, 2020 4:48 pm

this whole intro and idea, video, music, is a great departure from other submissions. thank you

August 7, 2020 3:02 pm

I think if I were blindfolded before listening to this I would guessed it was you.  I dunno how bout those lovely opening guitar chords screamed to me ORANGEDRINK! Loved the powerful lyrics especially the rhythm of how it plays off the guitar.  The harmonization at the end was perfect and made me listen to it again just for that part alone smile  Hope all is well by you!

August 8, 2020 11:42 am

Great performance and thank you for all those information about this song. I really appreciate your work and specially because you do no bla,bla,bla stuff. Thank you for sharing this.

August 9, 2020 9:51 pm

August 12, 2020 12:02 am

90s vibes on this, loving it.

August 21, 2020 8:57 pm

Great song. Awesome vocals and lyric, and the story go along. Moving!

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