31 Days of Jay – Robbing Me Blind…

Kicking off 31 Days of Brannan…

 

Robbing Me Blind

 

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Disclaimer – Okay, first off – I can be a bit of a fanboy when it comes to Jay Brannan. No, strike that – I’m more of a teen gay boy with a darkly amorous affection for my pop hero. No wait, it’s worse than that. I am a gushing teenaged Japanese Hentai fangirl when it comes to Jay Brannan. But it’s compartmentalized. I swear. I am a happily (ahem, older) married gay man (it’s even legal) whose hubby just shakes his head but allows me my teen-girl giddiness over all things Brannan.

And there’s good reason too.

You see, I am a musician (classically trained so my genre of choice is not the same as Jay’s but I’m cool with that. In fact, I am better than cool with it.)  Jay is my creative escape. He’s been my go-to when I want to become inspired. And aside from his music (or maybe because of it) I have come to appreciate him in the best possible light – I mean, he’s one sexy guy  (why hasn’t someone snatched that up has got to be one of the biggest damned mysteries in life). But aside from the way the camera obviously loves him, Mr. Brannan has a brilliant mind and is an incredible wordsmith. As an author known to do a bit of word smithing of my own,  Jay is bang on brilliant with the prose. Nothing short of it.

So why the 31 days of all things Brannan?

Well. I suppose I should fess up here and explain how Jay’s world of all things darkly amorous (“the constant stream of longing” as E. M. Forester put it so brilliantly in Maurice) entered my world.

I found Jay as a reference on some blog back in 2008 for up and coming out gay artists. I was in a particularly bored mood with the musical offerings out there. I mean as gay artists went I had Levi Kraus (who I still love immensely). and Ivri Lieder (another fave), but then I happened upon Jay’s first offerings and a small write up on some blog that I can’t even find any more extolling the amazing gifts and talents that Mr. Brannan had at his disposal. The write-up so intrigued me that I immediately went out and bought whatever I could find online from him (which if I remember at the time was precious little – I think one album (the fiery and brilliant goddamned) and maybe a single or two. So I paid (yes, paid – because as a fellow artist and musician I just can’t see my way to NOT support them monetarily for their endeavors) for whatever I could get my digital hands on.

And then, horror of horrors – they languished for three years unplayed. {Insert mental and emotive flogging here – I still do it to this day over this incredibly stupid period in my life). I liken it to being a parched man working his way out of the desert and being offered the tallest glass of cool crystal clear water and then setting it on the counter and not taking so much as a sip. Yeah, dip-shit moron over here: party of one.

Anyway – so there was that ostensibly bleak artistic period where I immersed myself in my classical world of operas and the like and Jay languished (paid for, mind you) on my iPod, iPhone, and iTunes.

I was living in San Diego at the time and that part of California can suck any artistry right out of a person. So flash forward three years (can it be a flash anything if it takes 3 years?). I relocated with the hubby, daughter and granddaughter to San Francisco (where I truly belong). I’m in the gym and I had put together a song list of out gay artists to keep me motivated as I did my workout because we’re gay and it’s the law.

So of course I had Jay lumped in with the techno and dance stuff (I think by now I had a plethora of gay men crooning in my ear one way or another). If you were gay, a male then you got on the playlist – it was just that simple.

And then ‘Housewife‘ played and I simply stopped… (I wasn’t on the treadmill or that could’ve been disastrous).

But the music just caught me and I was riveted to a world that I had grown up in. Here was a song that spoke of dreams and desires that I had worked my whole life to achieve and it was as if he’d plucked them right out of my existence. I know, a common truth when done right can do this in a song. Musician myself, remember? So I get it but it was that I was completely in my groove of I think Colton Ford or Johnny McGovern or hell, it might’ve been Jason Walker wailing like the righteous black woman he so wants to be (you go Jason… I am still a fan). The point was that I was in dance land groove from hell when Jay’s Housewife kicked me square in the emotive rubber parts. I remember sitting down on a weight bench and just listened to the song.

It was a transformative moment in that, within those words I suddenly found the passion to write some of my own.

Now I have always been the type of artist that doesn’t feel lessened by the greatness of someone else’s talent. Indeed, instead I am inspired to achieve other things that I may have only mused about inwardly, never giving them any hope of solidity in my life. But Housewife changed that. I found I wanted to add my own voice to the gay man’s journey for love and acceptance.

So I started to practice my craft, started honing in on what I wanted to accomplish – how I wanted to develop my characters and watch them take root and grow. While Jay had music as his venue I was turning to writing novels as my path. And words matter, they have weight, they have purpose. I read voraciously any and all things I could get my hands on (so thankful that all of the books can live on one e-reader device).

Jay’s music became the soundtrack for that. His YouTube channel gave me emotive inspiration to try other things. And for that I am truly grateful. And at my age, turning the train around ain’t such an easy thing to do. Old dog’s and all that…

Anyway, I get a big ol’ shit eating grin whenever one artist inspires another. That’s such a cool thing when it happens and everyone can admit it and accept it for the great gift it is and grow and (hopefully) prosper. Well, it is in my book anyway.

So… Rob Me Blind.

Here is the crux of why I am focusing on this song as my first of 31 days of Brannan. Rob Me Blind is a brilliant album in it’s own right. It’s thought provoking, it’s definitely emotive, and profound in how Jay imbues with such clarity and precision the darker qualities and aspects of love and loss. It would be simplistic to say that Jay’s work borders on maudlin. I don’t see it that way at all. Sure there are some dark things permeating every aspect of it. But in that I see such hope and striving for acceptance – and in this age of marriage equality where so many of us are literally fighting to establish legal protections and hopefully acceptance of our relationships, Brannan’s recent works are completely evocative of the time.

Rob Me Blind  is also special to me in that it gave me the gift of my main character in my current story that I’ve been slaving away on for the past six months.

Rob Me Blind was playing in the car as I drove back from picking up lunch for the family as I sat at the intersection to get onto Hwy 101 – I suddenly had a vision of a young teenaged boy, out, gay and terrified to be noticed. Keeping to the shadows in high school because that was how he figured he survived – if no one noticed him at all. Only he never thought in a million years that the star quarterback of his high school football team had been eyeing him for the past two years in school – too afraid to come close, to seek him out. And when he does, Elliot (my shy out gay kid) is not the same ever again.

His boyfriend is magical to him, and he doesn’t know why he says that he is Elliot’s and Elliot is his. He thinks he’ll get through it and enjoy it while it lasts – always an eye to when it will fall apart (never really accepting that when Marco (the QB) says it’s real he means just that). I wanted the jock in the story for once to be the solid one – the one who never wavers, and the out gay kid to be the doubter. Rob Me Blind had a couple of lines in the song that completely distilled that for me. That song gave my first novel it’s emotive core.

From there out the story developed quite quickly. It took me a number of months to hone and whittle down to what it is today. Rob Me Blind gave me something more than entertainment. It gave me these two boy’s voices. Voices I had to put down on digital paper. Voices that sprang from those words of another brilliant writer. Voices I couldn’t deny. So in many respects, my Marco and Elliot owe their literary lives to another artist altogether. And for that I am deeply grateful. Whenever I needed a emotive recharge – this song provided it and got me through.

Writing can be a very painful, cathartic process (even when it’s fiction) – probably because we write what we know (if we’re smart about it) and that can be a very intimidating prospect. You’re putting your shit out there for others to read and comment on – and that can feel very daunting to the point were you can become discouraged to go on. It’s frightening, it’s dangerous in that as you write you discover things long buried and tucked away. But somehow, Jay’s rich tapestry of words (particularly on this album) got me through. I even have Elliot as a fanboy of Jay’s in the book. It just seemed fitting when you have so many teenaged kids (okay mostly girls, but the gay boys, if they were anything like I was back then,  are in there I am sure would’ve been just as enamored with someone like Jay who spoke to them and of their dreams and nightmares). So I get to live out my teenaged dreams vicariously through Elliot. And I get to say ‘thank you’ to Jay for being the incredible and brilliant artist he is.

As an older gay man I am comforted in seeing such brilliance and poise come in one amazing package. It gives me hope that our collective gay history is in such capable hands to keep the story going.

I’ve never had the opportunity to see Jay perform live – due to schedule conflicts and the like  (my daughter bought me tickets this summer for my birthday present which follows two days after he rolls through SF this time around) so I am looking forward to the prospect of seeing him for the first time. I have the Live at Eddie’s Attic album and I’ve seen the numerous video postings of his live performances on his YouTube channel so I know I am in for one helluva treat.  I couldn’t think of any better way to ring in another year of slogging through this thing we call life.

I have a line in my book that is my meager attempt to capture the emotive quality that Jay expresses in his work – at a particularly poignant moment where Marco reveals to Elliot the way his love has history when he thinks of Elliot and how it has weight in his life for everything that is his greatest love – Elliot is overwhelmed with absolute wonder that someone so confident and successful in who he is could even take notice of a boy like him that they end up in a ‘tangle of limbs and leaves, of kisses and unspoken dreams…‘ on the forest floor behind Elliot’s home.

Jay’s world to me is all of that – especially the kisses and unspoken dreams we all carry in life. I can’t wait until we see what future melilifulous dreams Jay has in store for us. Hey the new album drops in 13 days so it won’t be long…

Hit up his store over at HelloMerch. There’s some great items on offer and it will support this guy in getting his message out there to the masses.

So begins my 31 days of all things Brannan.

 

Please check out his site (jaybrannan.com) and be sure to check out his touring dates (posted to his site and on Facebook). He does all of his own promotions and gets the fans to help out wherever and whenever we can. I just want to do my part to support such an amazing musical talent and a gift to us all.

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