December 25th, 2006


Gay Christmas Mr Lawrence

"Ax Mr. L" on the Alva Noto / Ryuichi Sakamoto EP Revep (2006) is a track which hums and crackles with the chords from the lovely theme tune to Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, which many consider Sakamoto's most accomplished composition. It appeared, with vocals by David Sylvian, as the single and video "Forbidden Colours" in 1983, taking the title of Mishima's most homosexual novel -- not to mention the Oshima film's strongly homosexual undercurrents -- into the British Top 20.

I've always thought that David Bowie's absence from the video has to be more than co-incidence; images of Bowie were almost certainly, themselves, "forbidden" by his management company. That ban was probably connected to the gay theme; this was, after all, the year Rolling Stone published a cover story on Bowie entitled "David Bowie Straight", and the somewhat macho Bowie almost certainly felt that Sylvian's cloying hymn to him was embarrassingly effete.

For those of us less concerned to, ahem, re-butt gay themes, though, this is a beautiful and haunting piece of music. When I listen to Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto's spinning-top post glitch version, though, I keep wanting to hear the original burst out, with its lovely chords, piano top-line, and lugubrious, yearning mid-section. So, today, as my slightly-homosexual Christmas present to you, the readers of Click Opera, I've made my own remix, a mash-up of the Noto-Sakamoto hum with fragments of the original song and layers of my own plinky-plonky piano playing.

Re-me-X Mr Lawrence (4.6 MB stereo mp3 file, 5 mins)

I hope this homage to a homage to a homage makes your Christmas day just that little bit more gay. Isn't it funny that, although Sylvian, Sakamoto, Nicolai, Bowie and I are all straight men, something so deeply, satisfyingly homosexual emerges when you put us all together?