Friday, July 05, 2013

All-American Boy

I really like this video and song, “All-American Boy”, by openly-gay country artist Steve Grand. He released it on July 4, which is especially appropriate since the holiday features in the lyrics.

As he got ready to release his video, without a manager or record label, Steve wrote on his Facebook page:
“I fought with who I was for most of my life. In every way a young person can fight with himself. But starting today… I'm laying it out there. I'm done playing it safe.”
Going it alone is always a challenge, even if it’s easier now than ever. Steve said:
“I went all in. There is no Plan B. I'm nervous/excited/horrified/anxious about the implications all of the choices I am making (and have made throughout my journey of discovering myself as a man and as an artist) will have on my future. But then I remind myself I never really had a choice. This is the story I've been aching to tell my most of my life… it is what I hold dearest to me.”
Any artist who chooses to be honest about who he is—as opposed to coming out later—faces huge obstacles. Industry moguls, contrary to popular belief, aren’t very supportive of openly gay artists of any kind, and country artists? Is there a less than zero for supportiveness?

The song speaks to pretty much every gay man, because in our youth we probably all had crushes on unobtainable boys. This may not seem any different from heterosexual boys, who also have unrequited love, except that for us it’s totally different: When we’re still trying to work out who we are, we also have to carefully navigate that dangerous territory in which we don’t know if the boy we’re infatuated with is even capable of being interested in us. A straight boy’s infatuation with a girl may be unrequited, but it’s unlikely to get him beaten up. Gay boys face that risk.

I wonder, though, if things have changed as society has moved forward. Certainly young people today are much more open and accepting than they were in my day, so maybe they deal with unrequited infatuation more positively. The video depicts what’s ultimately a positive outcome for a painful reality. Maybe things really are better.

I think that I first saw this video on Joe.My.God., who described it as “Gay pop rock, Abercrombie-style.” Yeah, I can see why he said that, but the country music roots are pretty obvious. Maybe we can compromise and call it “country rock” or “pop country” or something. Personally, I’d opt for just calling it good.

Steve performs the video well, too, which is important in selling it. He’s very attractive and knows how to use that to sell the song. All of this bodes well for his career, of course. BuzzFeed called him “The First Openly Gay Male Country Star”, which is putting a big weight on his shoulders. NashvilleGab.com also sang his praises. A lot of Internet buzz about him, in other words.

I bought his single on Bandcamp because I like it that much and because I wanted to support his career. We need more openly gay artists, and maybe even especially in country music. I wish him well.

Meantime, I think I’ll listen to the song again.


rogerogreen said...

You may have discussed this - though I don't recall - but I was interested in what you thought of pop songs with a heterosexual romance when you were growing up. Or the notion of redoing some of them now with a different POV.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Actually, I don't think I have talked about that (not that I'd remember, anyway…). Great topic for a post—thanks!

rogerogreen said...

The song got some less than stellar comments, mostly that it isn't real country. www.salon.com/2013/07/10/a_gay_country_music_star_plays_it_relatively_safe/

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

To me, their complaint was that it's a country crossover song, which some of them have disdain for. I understand their complaint—even though I disagree with them completely. My own complaint about the hype is that Steve is being talked about as a "first", when there are plenty of other gay country artists. Whether he will be the first gay superstar or not is the real question, and one that can't be answered now by anyone, least of all the curmudgeons they quoted in that article.