Minorities in the 70s and 80s
Bono from U2, Sir Elton John and Sting are iconic singers who were able to show how people “Homosexual and Humanitarian minorities” felt in the 70s and 80s, through songs such as “Where streets have no name”, “All the girls love Alice” and “An English man in New York”. These songs played the prime role of storytellers, as the lyrics reflected the main concerns that these minorities had to live inside of a narrow-minded society.
“All the girls love Alice”, written by Elton John in 1973, was the first controversial song in which the main character was lesbian teenager. The writer of the song addresses lesbianism as “It’s like acting in a movie when you got the wrong part”, referring to the fact that the lack of freedom was so non-existent that the sixteen year girl felt as if she had been “separated from the wheat from the chaff”. As a result, the teenager found herself in such state of confusion that she wasn’t able to express freely her own sexual orientation, thus making her feel out of place; out of context; out of society; even from their own peers.
In 1988, Sting was the second singer who started to introduce gay characters in their songs. The song “An English man in New York” was based on Quentin Crisp, a homosexual model and writer who lived his life normally and openly, despite of the constant accusations he had to face at that time. The lyrics described the life of this person as “I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien. I’m an English in New York” referring to the fact that he was just like the rest of the society, but due to his sexual orientation, he felt like an outcast within the community.
In 1987, Bono from U2, released the song “Where the streets have no name” which went beyond the problems of sexual orientation. In fact, the main focus of the writer was primarily humanitarian minorities which were unnecessarily suffering from the civil war between Ireland and Northern Ireland division. The main reason behind of the repetition of the stanza “where the streets have no name” along the song was to show Bono’s main concern about the war. His concern was that people shouldn’t lose the feeling of caring despite of the social issues. In fact, he addressed that being a street with no names meant that we were equally the same and that labels shouldn’t exist between people.
To sum up, these singers were committed to fulfil the difficult role of storytellers of these different minorities. These minorities got the voices they actually needed to express, which at that time, wasn’t possible to achieve; the feeling of freedom and acceptance from bigger social groups.