BREAKING DOWN THE WALLS OF HEARTACHE: HOW MUSIC CAME OUT
(October 13th, Constable/Little, Brown)
Martin Aston explores popular music’s queer DNA, drawing together the lives and records of the first singer and songwriters to defy the social and political conservatism of their time, to tell the story of how music ‘came out’.
Popular music’s gay DNA is inarguable: from Elvis in eye shadow to k.d. lang’s female Elvis; from Little Richard’s ‘Tutti Frutti’ to David Bowie’s bisexual alien; from Frankie Say ‘Relax’ to House music godfatherFrankie Knuckles; from Kurt Cobain in a dress to punk icon/couture model Beth Ditto.
Yet most of the first performers to defy the social and political conservatism of their time, were typically the least visible, such as the Fifties lesbian rockabilly trio and the Sixties gay soul renegade: the gay country music band and thereal gay glam and punk bands, the first queer rappers and trans rockers. Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache is not only the first book to tell the story of how music ‘came out’, but to shed light on these hidden pioneers alongside their famous counterparts. Aston’s ambitious and comprehensive narrative unfolds over one hundred years, against a backdrop of social and political shifts, as gay liberation transmuted into LGBTQ rights, pushing for visibility and equality, from 1920s liberalism through to the closet of post-war years, the eventual breakthroughs of the Sixties, the permissive Seventies, the mainstream invasion and AIDS crisis of the Eighties and the advances of the Nineties and Noughties. Aston also documents the retrogressive steps in Russia and parts of Africa, where songs bravely encapsulating the LGBTQ experience signify how the journey from illegality and bigotry to freedom is far from over.
Martin Aston has written about popular music for over thirty years, contributing to, among others, MOJO, Q, Guardian, The Times, Attitude, Radio Times, Spin and BBC Music Online. He’s also covered TV, film and LGBT culture, and authored three books, most recently Facing The Other Way: The Story Of 4AD (HarperCollins imprint The Friday Project, 2013), voted a Book of the Year by NME, Times Literary Supplement, Spin, Daily Telegraph and Rough Trade Shops.
Praise for Facing the Other Way: The Story Of 4AD:
‘4AD get the lavish label history they deserve’ MOJO
‘The book is an exquisite reflection of 4AD itself – extravagant, atmospheric, and rich in texture and timbre’ Pitchfork
‘Facing The Other Way represents one of the greatest stories to emerge from rock and roll’s modern history’ Drowned in Sound
‘A fanatically scholarly account of the definitive art-pop label of the 1980s’ The Times Literary Supplement