On Rod Stewart and The killing of Georgie

Posted in caught, thought by juliobesq on October 21, 2011

1976. Tom Robinson was yet to sing if you’re glad to be gay and Kenny Everett camped it up on TV without coming out. Being gay was criminal in Scotland and illegal under 21 in England. Queer bashing was common place (a worrying trend chav culture is bringing back).

Rod Stewart. Famous for marrying beautiful blondes, pissing it up, playing football, wearing tartan. The archetypical lad.

He writes ”The killing of Georgie Parts I & II”. What’s so unusual about this song (to this day) is unlike Robinson’s carrion call using gay as activist, or disco’s glamour (think Sylvester equating gay with camp and frivolity), here is a song where the fact that the protagonist is homosexual is incidental. Where the gay is un-sensationalised.

The lyrics are not about Georgie being queer. His sexuality is mentioned only in relation to the effect on his life story, and the story told because he has been murdered. His death is unrelated to being gay, he is killed by muggers for money, not hatred.

Something we might expect from Orphans and Vandals today but not Rod Stewart in 1976.

It is a threnody to a lost friend, his homosexuality is merely a matter of fact, an everyday occurrence, far less unusual than death from violent robbery. Looking at our TV today, violent robbery predominates popular shows and yet a gay character still accrues column inches.

Quite remarkable that a straight man, a “lad” should write such lyrics and never ask for any gayness in it’s content to be made a song and dance over. It’s sometimes mistaken as an anthem against homophobia (the only mention is Georgie’s father). Mojo magazine asked him why he wrote a song with a gay theme, note rather than a song about a pal’s murder. “That was a true story about a gay friend of The Faces. He was especially close to me and Mac. But he was shot or knifed, I can’t remember which. That was a song I wrote totally on me own over the chord of open E.”

Mojo still obsess and asks about writing a song with gay content, Stewart said, “It’s probably because I was surrounded by gay people at that stage. I had a gay PR man, a gay manager. Everyone around me was gay. I don’t know whether that prompted me into it or not. I think it was a brave step, but it wasn’t a risk.”

Something in this song makes me tear up every time I hear it. On a side note it’s rather amusing and ironic that Rod himself appears to completely camp it up during the video.

3 Responses

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  1. […] who was cut down in his prime during a random mugging.But it’s not so much the subject-matter (a true story, apparently) that got me. It’s the astonishing performance itself, which in its fearless extravagance and […]

  2. […] not so much the subject-matter (a true story, appar­ently) that got me. It’s the aston­ish­ing per­for­mance itself, which in its fear­less […]

  3. Randy said, on February 26, 2015 at 2:41 am

    I agree with what you say Mark and I appreciated all your other comments elsewhere about his performance of this song. I’ve always loved Rod Stewart, he is incredibly cool

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