Between the disaster that is 20 20 and losing too many lives to various causes (natural and un) I’ve been spending time contemplating a couple of projects- blending ‘Bucket List’ goals and kind of ‘Make A (dying) Wish’ ideas. Today I’d like to talk about just one. I want very much to experience a major tribute to the songs and performances of Romanovsky & Phillips.
“Who are they?” you ask.
An Introduction to Romanovsky & Phillips
Singers/songwriters Ron Romanovsky & Paul Phillips played an integral part in the gay rights movement of the 1980’s and 1990’s, performing at hundreds of gay pride events and community and AIDS fundraisers, and headlining at dozens of music clubs, theaters, and concert halls throughout the country. Often they were the first gay act to get mainstream press coverage in dozens of Mid-American cities and towns,
They’ve frequently been left out or marginalized in mainstream narratives of gay history due to the fact that much of their career was made in the Heartland of the U.S., rather than in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. R&P’s music and influence inspired thousands of ordinary, everyday folks throughout the country to come out, get involved, and live proudly as GLBT people.
My R&P Wish
Regular readers (and followers of my various social media accounts) know that I am an uber-fan. I run their Facebook page, the only official merch shop (t-shirts, mugs and more), updated their website, published 1 Out of 10 Therapists: The Poetry of Romanovsky & Phillips Lyrics and offer Wimp– as a kernel of an idea for a musical.
But that’s not enough. A truly major tribute would be a live concert later released as a concert DVD.
In light of how many folks are resistant to taking covid-19 seriously, such an event is unlikely for years. A CD of multiple individual studio/home studio sessions is probably more doable. Having a CD of R&P covers by a mix of new and established singers (heavy on LGBT/Queer representation and activist performers) would still be a dream come true. (Oh btw neither Ron nor Paul were warned about this post; ‘Better to ask forgiveness than permission’ when going after a big ask.)
Who would I like to see? Well, I don’t really listen to many new ‘underground’ artists, so don’t have many names to drop. But I have no doubt there are plenty of great singers who could do R&P’s catalogue justice. Feel free to pass this idea along.
As for singers who’s work I do know, I have thoughts. Here are some names and suggested songs. Song titles link to a blog post if I’ve written one. Lyrics links are to the official R&P website:
@ Alan Cummings- I Like To Polka or perhaps The Anti-Depressant Polka;
@ Buffy Ste Marie- Be Political, Not Polite (Song Lyrics);
@ Eric Milligan- Red Moon Over Boston (Song Lyrics);
@ Holly Near- The Woman Next Door (Song Lyrics);
@ Ivan Coyote- We’ll Begin Again;
@ Janis Ian- Living In The Nuclear Age;
@ Margaret Cho- Don’t Use Your Penis For A Brain (Song Lyrics);
@ Matt Alber- Once Upon A Time (Song Lyrics);
@ Paul Williams- Love Is All It Takes (Song Lyrics);
@ Rae Spoon- The Perfect Crime;
@ Rufus Wainright- Le Jardin de Bernadette;
@ Sandy & Richard Riccardi- Carnival People (Song Lyrics);
@ Steve Grand- Closing Chapter (Song Lyrics);
@ Tom Goss- Let’s Flaunt It (Song Lyrics);
The complete discography has lyrics for most R&P albums (not for Ron’s solo albums) and the Shop page has short clips for a number of songs.
To be clear I’m speaking as a private individual with neither the funds nor permissions to start such a project. I am a fan, ruminating on what I would love to have happen and putting this out to the universe. No idea who’s under contract where, if any of these folks are interested, or all the intricacies of making this happen (although clearly there would be plenty of details to be wrangled).