You don’t have to be clairvoyant — or Claire Voyant — to predict which will be the most played out ‘n’ proud anthems at this week’s Pride parade. We Are Family by Sister Sledge, I’m Coming Out by Diana Ross and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive will likely get as many spins as the Village People and the Weather Girls.
Course, it would be nice to hear the Pet Shop Boys — either I Love You, You Pay My Rent or You Only Say That You Love Me When You’re Drunk — or a Morrissey track or two.
Sure, the DJs will spin rd laing’s Constant Craving for a little Canadian content, but where’s the Parachute Club’s Rise Up or Rough Trade’s — or Tim Curry’s cover! — of Birds Of A Feather? But the song and artist that deserves a float all of his and/or her own is Any Other Way by long-forgotten early 60s soul singer Jackie Shane.
In April of 1963, Shane — a regular on Toronto’s Yonge Street strip who’s best described as Judy Garland meets James Brown — had the number three song on the CHUM chart, a slinky soulful shuffle a la Ben E. King’s Stand By Me called Any Other Way.
Here’s the chorus the androgynous Shane delivered while wearing heavy make-up and a sequin top:
“Tell her that I’m happy,
Tell her that I’m gay,
Tell her I wouldn’t have it (rimshot)
Any other way.”
I guess no one was paying attention back in the day but not an eye was batted. Besides, it was a particularly good number to grind to, as witnessed by the scene of slow-dancing dykes in the basement of the Ford Hotel in Lynn Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman’s ’92 flick Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives.
Since then, Shane seems to have drifted into the ether and has never received the credit he deserves although you can find Any Other Way on the first volume of the Made In Canada CD series that came out a while back.
Here’s the only known clip of Jackie Shane, a performance of the r ‘n’ b work-out of Walking The Dog. Remember a queer pioneer this way: