Recently, Rod Stewart
re-released a newly imagined version of his 1978 classic, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy ,” with multi-platinum group DNCE.
They premiered the single together on Aug. 27 at the MTV Video Music Awards, introducing Rod Stewart to a new generation.
While “Da Ya Think I’m
Sexy” is one of his signature songs, peaking at No. 1 in six countries, some of his other songs stand out for their lyrics and ability to raise social awareness. What many don’t know is that 40 years
ago, Stewart wrote the first commercially successful pop song to address gay rights.
I have seen Rod Stewart
live seven times: Calgary in 1984; Wembley Stadium in London in 1986; Brighton in 1987; Calgary again in 1988; Edinburgh in 2002; London in 2013; and on Prince Edward Island in
There are a number of
reasons why I keep going to see him. In part, it’s my small way of saying thank-you for all the times when listening to him has salvaged a bad day or improved a good one. In part, it’s because he is
now 72 years old, and yet still loves his job and is still having fun. These are worthy aims at any life stage, but especially when your 20s and 30s are firmly in your past.
In part, of course, it
is his voice, which so convincingly delivers a wide range of emotion, from callousness and exuberance, through anger and whimsy, to hurt and self-deprecating mockery. Elton John summed it up in his
acceptance speech at the 2013 BRITs Icon Award Show. Stewart, he said, is “the greatest singer that rock ‘n’ roll has ever had .”
What is sometimes
overlooked, though, and one of the primary reasons I have been a fan for 40 years, is Stewart’s abilities as a song-writer, and particularly as a lyricist.
I teach and research
19th-century British literature for a living. But I have also spent time listening to and thinking about rock ‘n’ roll lyrics. Language is at the crux of both these projects, and it is a short step
from one to the other. Great poems, like great lyrics, work in strikingly diverse ways. But at some level both almost invariably challenge set assumptions and break new ground – literary, political
Take “The Killing of Georgie ” from Stewart’s 1976
album, A Night on the Town. The song is about a young gay man who is murdered in the “so-called liberated days” of the mid-1970s.
Stewart is British, but he sets the song in America, where he has lived full-time for more than four decades. “The Killing of Georgie” is the first successful pop song with a gay man at the centre of
the story. Though the BBC initially rejected the track, it eventually hit the top of the charts in the U.K., the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands.
In the song, Stewart
normalized gayness. One afternoon, Georgie tells his parents he needs love “like all the rest.” They don’t understand. His mother cries. His father is angry. They cast him out, “a victim of these gay
days it seems.”
George travels by
Greyhound Bus to New York City, where he settles down and soon meets people who are far more sympathetic, including the narrator: “He said he was in love, I said I’m pleased.”
But one summer evening,
as George and his new love walk home arm in arm from the theatre, they are ambushed by a New Jersey gang. A fight ensues, Georgie’s head hits a sidewalk cornerstone and he is
The lyric is notable
for a number of reasons. It’s a ballad, as Stewart makes plain from the outset: “A story comes to mind of a friend of mine.” It covers a great deal of ground concisely, and within a solid structure
of 18 stanzas.
But whereas ballads are
usually written in quatrains (four-verse lines) with a rhyme scheme such as abab or aabb, Stewart writes “The Killing of Georgie” in tercets (three-verse lines), typically rhyming aab, a technique
that puts a decisive emphasis on the opening couplet, and that quickens the overall pace of the lyric, as we (and Georgie) are hurried on after three lines rather than four:
Pa said, “There must be a mistake;
How can my son not be straight;
After all I’ve said and done for him?”
Stewart exploits a
variety of different rhymes (including “end,” “internal,” and “slant”) that repeatedly energize the lyric and produce some of the most memorable lines he has written: “Youth’s a mask but it don’t
last, / Live it long and live it fast.”
Gay rights not yet
Bigotry and gang
violence kill Georgie, but the narrator eschews sentimentality: “Georgie’s life ended there, / But I ask, ‘Who really cares?’”
Above all, “The Killing
of Georgie” carries what Stewart has called “a pro-gay message,” as he put it in his 2012 autobiography, Rod .
In the “so-called
liberated days” of the mid-1970s, people were attacked and killed in the street because of their sexual orientation, as the song relates.
Forty years later, in
what we might like to think of as our own liberated days, progress has unquestionably been made on issues such as same-sex marriage and gay and transgender rights.
But we now live in a
world with Donald Trump as a national leader, and it takes only a cursory glance at recent headlines to see that these topics continue to provoke hostility and backward-thinking. Among many other
roles, great art and great lyrics frequently remind us of the battles that still need to be fought until they are won. We are a long way from the acceptance and mutual respect that Stewart asks us to
Georgie boy was gay I guess,
Nothin’ more and nothin’ less,
The kindest guy I ever knew.
When Stewart wrote the
lyrics, he says there were people at his record label who were “medieval enough” to fear that it might alienate some of his heterosexual following. “Stuff’em,” he replied. “It’s one of the songs that
I’m proudest of.”
"Let my friend Daniel Marra
get on," Rod Stewart asked last night in the middle of the Costa Salguero VIP show. The unknown Marra, author of the exotic shiny shoes that Rod shines in each show, climbed shy and vanished
among the 1,300 people. Then began the operation "searching for the prodigious shoemaker". Most tracked him down the wrong place. Houses of Palermo designs, fashion circuits of the
City of Buenos Aires. The story of
stories was in La Matanza.
His factory in Lomas del Mirador is
the temple inherited from his father Osvaldo. Daniel is 50 years old, 35 officially and more than 30 as a Rod fan. In 2008 he gave a pair to a saxophonist of the English / Scottish band,
she was fascinated with the model and a magic door opened.
In 2014 the woman presented Stewart with two pairs of moccasins handcrafted by Marra , one in orange leather and the other in multicolored reptile, in Las
Daniel, who was in that city in 2014, was summoned by Rod
to share a few drinks at Caesars Palace. "He told me that the shoes were impressive, it was a kind of friendship and five months later I went back to a show and gave him another
three pairs," he says.
Marra registered the brand
of Stay With
Me shoes , designed
especially for the gentleman of the British Empire, but does not think about the business. "I do not have a local yet, a friend who lives in Las Vegas advises me to open one
there, I do not want to
profit from my idol, I already gave him more than 120 pairs , every time he sees me he says
'There is my shoemaker'", he laughs .
Rod Stewart prefers Matanzas
"Talla" as a goldsmith for Rod Stewart's foot. Impossible to calculate how much could sell the shoes with such a model that looks for the planet. The scene is not
outlandish: from the artist's surroundings they tell that Rod often gets rid of his Gucci peers and puts on Marra's custom
42 and a half. Marra, moldista and "SUV" born in Ramos Mejía,
takes between 10 and 15 days for Rod to walk "as in the clouds". It
still does not export. He wants to be careful, but he knows that the explosion of entrepreneurship is imminent.
"It is difficult to give shoes to him, considering that I know of life , " says Marra, whose soundtrack of youth forwards exclusively to Stewart. "I know what he likes and how to
combine it with what he saw, it's the dream of any fan, that with his millions of dollars he chooses my shoes."
Don Osvaldo, an
Italian born in Avellino, founded the factory in 1963 in La Matanza. Daniel, his son, plans to bequeath the family business to his daughter Julieta, 19, who also set the stage for Stewart
yesterday. "There were lean
times, in the 90s this was a punishment guild, we had to sell to the laces, but in bad and good times I bet this, I carry it in my blood and I tell my two daughters: if you want You can persevere and
Due to overwhelming demand for tickets and a sold-out first show, Rod Stewart will return to The Hollywood Bowl to perform a second show on Tuesday, June 26. The pair of Hollywood Bowlshows on June 25 and 26 will kickoff Stewart's extensive North American summer tour with special guest Cyndi Lauper, marking the two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's first shows at the
celebrated Los Angeles venue since his sold-out run in 2011.
Tickets go on sale Saturday, February 24 at 10am via LiveNation.com. The American Express® card member presale runs Wednesday, February 21 at 10am through Friday,
February 23 at 10pm, visit AmericanExpress.com/entertainment. Fan Club Presales begin Wednesday, February 21 at 9 am through Friday, February 23 at10pm, visit https://fanclub.rodstewart.com,
CyndiLauper.com or LiveNation.com for complete details on presales, ticketing and tour information.<
Following the incredible success and rave reviews for their 2017 summer tour, Stewart has invited the legendary Cyndi Lauper to join him as the tour's special guest for his 23-date North American tour. True music legends, Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper have been awarded nearly every industry award and honor for their incomparable catalog of hits and activism -- among them,
multiple Grammys, American Music Awards and VMA's, plus two inducts into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the ASCAP Founders Award for songwriting, and a Knighthood for Stewart; and an Emmy and Tony Award for Lauper.
Sir Roderick David Stewart, better known to us mortals as Rod, is
on a worldwide tour including Milano where I find myself tonight (January 31), along with a packed crowd, that warmly greets him back after an absence of 8 years.
Sir Rod is now 73 years of age but he still cuts a dashing figure even with screen
video close-ups and with various costume changes involving black and white glittery jackets, colorful shirts and of course his famous gold lamé suit he is suitably able to show himself off. This
charade also helps him conveniently to take breaks during the set whilst his solid 13 piece band take control of the stage. Yes, because the hips don’t really work anymore and apart from the odd
knee-jerk, dancing is out of the question and fatigue sets in rather too easily I feel.
As for the voice, well, it’s ok, still grating and sublimely distinctive but there
is little sustain and resonance with certain songs like ‘Baby Jane’ notably with the key adjusted to suit his the vocal pitch of today’s Rod.
Still with a strong band including six girls sharing vocals and instruments like
violins, harp and percussion, the show, very Vegas, is watchable and entertaining with loads of old soft rock hits, some rockabilly and classic ballads but it’s like painting by joining the dots,
every step is accounted for, no room for error for sure but that said no flashes of brilliance or spontaneity either. Maybe on Van Morrison’s ‘Have I Told You Lately That I Love You’ Rod seemed “in
the moment” and when he talked about Celtic Football Club and the song ‘You’re In My Heart’ there is even some passion involved but the rest is simply plain sailing as Rod would say.
The crowd try and rise to the occasion with a spontaneous vocal chant after ‘Do You
Think I’m sexy’ but after listening for a few bars, Rod with a simple hand gesture gets the band to start the closer ‘Sailing’ as we hit the 90 minute mark as injury time not extra time is only to be
Nostalgia is not always a fulfilling and comfortable feeling and I feel maybe Rod
should have put away the mike stand after this summer’s Isle Of Wight headline slot. What’s left now is formulaic and ordinary something Rod Stewart as an artist has never been in his long and
Soul Finger (band
Having a Party (from
Unplugged…and Seated, 1993)
Some Guys Have All the
Luck (from Camouflage, 1984)
Sweet Little Rock &
Roller (from Smiler, 1974)
Tonight’s the Night
(Gonna Be Alright) (from A Night on the Town, 1976)
It Takes Two (from
Vagabond Heart, 1991)
Forever Young (from Out
of Order, 1988)
Rhythm of My Heart (from
Vagabond Heart, 1991)
Downtown Train (from
The First Cut Is the
Deepest (from A Night on the Town, 1976)
I Don’t Want to Talk
About It (from Atlantic Crossing, 1975)
You’re in My Heart (The
Final Acclaim) (from Foot Loose & Fancy Free, 1977)
Have I Told You Lately
(from Vagabond Heart, 1991)
Proud Mary (band
People Get Ready (from
the Jeff Beck album Flash, 1985)
Baby Jane (from Body
Stay With Me (from Faces’
A Nod is As Good As a Wink to a Blind Horse, 1971)
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
(from Blondes Have More Fun, 1978)
Sailing (from Atlantic
Enjoy Yourself (It’s
Later Than You Think) (band only)