Music I Like: Scissor Sisters


Of course I’m a fan of the band, but in this case I also mean their eponymously named debut album. While it wasn’t a huge success in my home country, the USA, it was a huge hit in the UK when it was released in 2004. The band, currently on hiatus (major sad face) released three more albums, but their first will always be special to me.

My first exposure to Scissor Sisters was in a brief spot during a commercial break on MTV. They were showcased as a “new band to watch” or some such and were compared to Elton John and glam rock acts from the 70s. These comparisons and a brief interview with the band members piqued my curiosity in a unique and discreet kind of a way.

I felt I could identify with them, as if they spoke in code and it was meant for people like me to decipher it.

Of course, what I mean is my sexuality. I was closeted at the time, nearly a year out of high school, and in the middle of a long string of years where I was trying to figure out what I wanted out of my life.  Without saying it directly, I knew that Scissor Sisters, in some way, represented gay culture, and I wanted in on it.

While most if not all of the band members have stated that they fall somewhere within the LGBT spectrum, back in 2004 this was still a touchy issue. Plus, they were a new musical act, and America is notoriously homophobic within show business for some odd reason, so they were probably advised to keep a low profile if they wanted to break into the music scene in a big way.

Regardless, it was with a wink and a nod that I came to a mutual understanding with the sisters of the scissors.

Their big hit at the time was “Take Your Mama”.  The video was campy and quirky. The lyrics on the other hand quite clearly conveyed the process of coming out to one’s mother, and letting her know that being gay can be pretty fabulous.

While I was still a long way from doing that myself, the message was still quite clear, and that it was wrapped up in an awesome song with infectious energy was confirmation that I was destined to love this band.

The only problem with the song?

I didn’t hear it nearly enough on the radio.

Sure there was the internet, but even in 2004 we still had dial-up at my house and I had yet to develop the habit of tracking down music files and internet videos like a bloodhound. Instead, I decided that I needed to buy the album.

So, of I went on my quest in search of the CD that would grant me endless repetitions of what were sure to be my new favorite songs, but, alas, East Tennessee proved to be a barren wasteland when it came to that kind of music.

There’s a desolate feeling that comes over you when you when you feel like you are the sole person in the market for gay music, alone, and in the closet. I cursed my home town for its poor taste. Even the independent disc exchanges, who still sold vinyl records before hipsters made that and chugging PBRs popular again, didn’t carry Scissor Sisters.

My response was to pop my cherry, and by that I mean that I made my first ever music purchase on the internet. I found the album on Amazon.com and waited while it shipped to my home. I think the CD may have even been delivered from the UK.

A few days later, I finally found my bliss in the eclectic assortment of musical goodness that only Scissor Sisters can provide. From the opening pounding of piano chords of “Laura” to the haunting harmonies of “Return to Oz”, I found more love in each track than Rihanna could find in a hopeless place.

What is so great about this album is that if the song isn’t just about having a fun time, being one’s fabulous self, then it’s about something else relating to what it’s like being gay.

“Filthy Gorgeous” illustrates what it’s like in the more debauched scenes, while “Lovers in the Back Seat” gives you a taste of the voyeuristic side of making love. Sometimes, when it’s hard to be yourself out in the open, then even your trysts have to be discreet. This is one of my favorite tracks.

But there are two tracks in particular that take the cake for me. The first is the anthemic “It Can’t Come Quickly Enough”.  It’s soaring synths are both uplifting and deep, and they provide a perfect background to the introspective lyrics.

The second is perhaps one of my favorite ever songs by the Scissor Sisters: “Mary”.  The song is actually dedicated to lead singer Jake Shears’ friend who passed away. But even without knowing that it’s easy to pick up on the intense and platonic, yet genuine love he felt for his friend.

This is something very true about gay people.  Just because we prefer real love with someone of the same gender doesn’t mean that we can’t ever connect with someone of the opposite. We all have a Mary in our lives with whom we share a connection deeper than sexual desire, something complex that isn’t complicated by physical attraction.

This song simply and effectively expresses those feelings.

Furthermore, the video released for this song features gorgeous animation by the famous Don Bluth. It’s hard to find, but it’s worth viewing.

As you can now see, the album is personally significant to me, and continues to resonate with me. Time has only layered more experience upon me to ensure that my thoughts regarding the music here are permanently imbedded into my soul. Ten years later, and it’s still I’ve of my ask time favorites.