31 Days of Brannan – Day 3
Today’s Playlist – ‘Casalinga’
(“Housewife” in Italia)
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So why the Italian version? Well, being a classically trained opera singer I sing quite a bit in Italian. I just loved that he sang it to an Italian audience in their own language. Such a lovely gesture.
To be honest, I wasn’t so sure what to pick this time around. Not because I ran out of steam about all things Brannan. No where near that – I swear. I can wax on about Jay’s body of work for quite some time and not tire of the subject matter (and I say that will every ounce of ‘non-stalker’ voice I can put to it). Just a very sincere fanboy.
No, I chose this because there is literally so many ways I can take this whole endeavor – my 31 Days of Brannan. You see, Brannan’s work touches on so many elements of a shared journey that as gay men we sort of have to work on making our own way. Not that everyone on the planet doesn’t have to do that to some degree, but for gay men, we have the whole pervasive perception by the straight world that we are swimming upstream – we push against the norm, we are outside the mainstream. Reminders at every turn of how much we are not like everyone else. Yet, we often have to use their terms, their metaphors to explain our world. It can be both challenging as it can be uplifting when we can draw parallels between our commonality with the mainstream world.
My hubby railed about this just today – two beefy looking guys getting married in one of those states that just got the ‘go-ahead’ to git ‘er done. That wasn’t what rattled the hubby’s cage. No, what did was that they were there in their flannel shirts (they looked like lumberjacks – big bear kinda men, but one of them had a typical wedding bouquet of flowers in his hand with long flowing ribbons). This irked my husband in more ways than one. Not because he wouldn’t deny anyone who wanted to do that, but because he felt that it was probably driven by gays having to pick up the definition of what was supposed to take place from their straight counterparts. Why were we defining ourselves by those standards? Aren’t we supposed to be defining it for ourselves? What our marriage equality will truly look like and how we’ll take those elements and make them our own. That’s what he was speaking to, and I got it. I did. But to each his own, I say.
This is a recurring motif throughout Housewife. The duality of wanting those ‘straight’ married bliss concepts but constantly challenging the listener to grapple with why a man would want to be a housewife and that there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it.
Simply put, there isn’t.
Even if the commonplace events Jay speaks of within the piece, mirror the experiences of our straight married counterparts. I just LOVE that Jay does this within his work. The double entendres, the witty bon mots, the dry sense of humor at times. I’ve always thought of him as a modern day bard. I don’t bandy that word around loosely either.
Brannan is a bard. Plain and simple. And I count myself lucky to live at a time when someone like him can come along and do what he does so brilliantly. To revel in the moment – as he creates.
I had the same giddiness back in the late seventies when I heard Donna Summer was gonna release another big selling album. As a gay teen boy I was all about Donna back in the day (withhold judgement as I met her and those horrible rumors about what was attributed to her were completely false – she was a very decent human being). Anyway, the giddy feeling I used to get whenever Donna was gonna drop some new project is EXACTLY what I feel when Jay announces he’s got something on the horizon. Total gay boy freak session for at least an hour – heady, and simply happy that something wonderful is about to come my way.
What I think is bang over the top in Housewife is that it works on so many levels. It holds up the banality of a relationship in a new romantic light (I mean, who really has that romantic gushy feeling about washing dishes – yet in Jay’s vision it is simply rendered and you can’t think of a more beautiful expression of devotion to the man you love. Unless of course, it’s doing his laundry which Jay is more than happy to acknowledge as an option on the table) — that even the most mundane of things have a beauty all on their own. It speaks of hopes and dreams, of sharing meals and a future. Things that I know I pondered myself from the time I could acknowledge my attraction to boys. I wanted those things in my life. Housewife’s greatest accomplishment is the simplicity in it’s threaded revelations of what it means to be in a loving and supportive relationship. One which when he reaches, you’re there. When you falter, he’s there.
The beauty of Brannan’s prose in this is that each element is simplistic and comforting all at the same time. It speaks (to my way of thinking at any rate)
Sure there was the whole sense of adventure in the relationship. That’s always the sexy part – or so you think if you’ve never been in one. What I love about Jay’s take on it is that its the longevity that the song speaks to – how valued those dreams are. Yeah, I definitely had those thoughts. Mostly it was the being close, of breathing him in. The simplest things were held far more magical qualities to them than any of the wildly erotic times. Okay, maybe that was not wholly true. I mean sex was definitely an important part of a new relationship – especially as a young man who sought the affections of another boy.
I wanted so many things in a man that I didn’t feel I had. Things that I admired in other boys (usually of the straight variety). Of course in my day if you were gay it was automatically assumed you were about as fey as they come. I never did fit into that mold, but I wasn’t a football playing hetero-acting stud either. Then again, I never really liked the whole ‘straight-acting’ moniker. Why is it that we have to appear to be anything other than what we are.
I think that this is what is at the emotive core of Housewife. Love that simply is. Love that endures, love to strive and hope for, to dream about and to push toward achieving.
Though I think it is in the simple repeated question of “what’s so wrong with that?” that is one of the most powerful tools within the song. Gently intoning and asking the audience to wrap your head around why making such a simple admission that you would want to take on the role of a Housewife holds no negativity, indeed it is probably one of the greatest gestures of love to find the exuberance in doing laundry, making guacamole or hell, even the desire to have his baby (which in this day and age may not be too far off a prospect).
This is one of the songs that truly gets me misty eyed when I hear it. It has every element of what I feel about my life with my own husband. There is no one else I’d rather wash dishes with or for, no one who I wouldn’t want to wash his clothes. His needs always come before my own. As mine do with him. He’s proven that to me time and again. So yeah, Housewife is a brilliant song, encapsulating and distilling for me all of the things I hold dear in my own relationship with my husband of 20 years. He is my best friend, the love of my life and the life of my love.
Yet it is Jay’s last words of Housewife that haunt me terribly, that never fail to make me a bit teary eyed. Knowing how Jay has commented in various live video performances and youtube postings about how lonely he feels at times, it tears me up that someone who brings such an emotive and creative light to my life via his work hasn’t found some of this for himself. I don’t know Jay. Being a performer of the stage since I was 8 and now coming up on my half-centennial mark, that is a number of years to put on a face and sell yourself to the masses. So I have to concede that I don’t know how much of his life is show and how much is an actual representation. My takeaway is that Jay is incredibly honest (insofar as he is willing to share – which seems to be quite a bit) about some of the intimate details (without being salacious) of his life. If that is the case, then I do hold out the day when he might alter the lines to let his audience know he has someone special and worthy of his love. Maybe even changing those last moments to reflect a change in status.
For someone who gives so much of himself, of sharing what he does with his social media accounts, I would be over the moon if there came a time when he would have what he speaks of in Housewife (if that’s what he truly wants). His work brings such an emotive and rich core into my world – substantiating and giving a creative voice to things I concern myself with, if only to know I’m not crazy, what I want is what Jay seems to echo – what everyone else seems to want.
Love, friendship, devotion – getting as much as you put into it and if you’re lucky, you just might get more than you bargained for. And life is sweet when you do.
The Always, Then & Now Tour…
Sidebar: I bought my Deluxe Package from Jay Brannan’s store for the tour he’s embarking on now. The cost of the deluxe package is $40 and you get quite a bit for it. There are other packages as well. But that isn’t why I did it. I did it because I truly feel indebted to this man of words and music. I am enriched by his musical musings and experiences. I am emboldened to discover that I am not alone in my dreams and fears. And for that I will always support him and do what I can to spread the word.
Please check out his site with links for his upcoming shows. I am definitely a late comer to the Brannan bandwagon whenever he pulls through my city. But now that I am going this year, I am making it a goal never to miss when he swings through town. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity as well. Also be sure to check out his web store at the following link.