Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall loves Cole Porter, but not gay marriage
There was a time when gay marriage referred only to the particularly trenchant bond between lights and music at The Saint discothèque on a Saturday night.
And Mick Hucknall, providing the vocals for the remix of Simply Red’s “Fairground” anthem, led the charge. The ethereal track became so ubiquitous in gay clubs that it could be called the “Here Comes The Bride” for this particular brand of relationship.
Jump forward ten years and Hucknall has his fingers in a whole other gay marriage pie. He’s in one of the surprise hit films of the summer, “De-Lovely,” a chronicle of one of the gayest marriages ever. This sleeper tells the tale of composer Cole Porter and socialite Linda Lee Thomas, who became Mrs. Cole Porter after the two met in Paris in 1919. Porter’s songs are reinterpreted in the film by modern masters like Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello and Alanis Morissette and the aptly-named screenwriter Jay Cocks doesn’t shy away from Porter’s fondness for men.
Hucknall’s contribution to the all-star soundtrack is the Cole Porter ballad “I Love You.” And he does.
“I’m a fan of Cole Porter and have actually recorded two of his songs on my own for Simply Red,” Hucknall acknowledged during a recent interview. “There’s a wonderful sophistication in his lyrics, an eloquence and elegance. And doing the film, I just walked around with a smile on my face. When I’d walk into the room and everyone would be in costume, I’d just feel it.”
One wonders what else Hucknall is feeling. During a lively telephone chat from London, Hucknall, 43, took on the various music industry travesties he’s endured navigating Simply Red through 45 millions units sold since forming the group in 1984. He argued that the major labels operate in a manner that turns recording artists into sharecroppers.
When the topic finally shifted to his gay audience, Hucknall said that London’s famed DJs Ministry of Sound is distributing his new record “Home” in the U.K. and fans of Simply Red remixed will have a lot to look forward to.
So is that the gay angle for this story?
“I don’t really know how to respond to that,” Hucknall said with a laugh. “I’m not gay myself, but I don’t really see it as an issue. I’m very ‘live and let live’ and just take people as they are.”
He’s passionate about soul music, but admits you won’t hear him rapping anytime soon. He feels very strongly that “we are the children of a century that saw the marriage of Western European folk culture and African culture. And it was the first century that music was affected by that and that is something to take great joy in and celebrate.”
Just don’t call his particular brand of music “Blue-eyed soul.” Mentioning the moniker elicited: “I’m not allowed to be influenced by Aretha Franklin because she’s black? Get a life. Get real.”
After well-publicized trysts with the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones, the confirmed and childless bachelor must surely have some thoughts on people in this country fighting for the right to be able to do something he’s apparently avoiding.
“I’m completely supportive of the rights of people to marry in a civil ceremony,” Hucknall hedged, “but I think it’s absurd to think of them marrying in church.”
It’s important to understand that up until this point, Mick and I were getting on in a way the diamond-toothed—“And I’m not even a pimp,” he joked when asked about his dental jewelry—redhead describes as “smashingly.” We’re even like-minded on his band’s shift from Time Warner to Ministry of Sound. “I’m not getting ripped off anymore,” he stated simply, pointing out the hypocrisy inherent in a major label hiding behind the guise of “artists’ rights” to defend their copyright.
Despite his outrage at the inherent prejudice in the label “blue-eyed soul,” I really needed to make sure he was clear about what he was saying to a gay audience.
“All you got to do is read the Bible and see that gay marriage is clearly not there,” Hucknall insisted. “Whether you support it or not, reading the Bible, as I did at school, makes it very clear that their perception of marriage, in biblical terms, is between a male and a female in terms of a religious ceremony.”
In other words, Cole and Linda are all right with Mick, but you won’t catch him throwing rice at Adam and Steve anytime soon. So scratch Hucknall off your dream list of wedding singers, but who knew he had such biblical conviction? I took his anti-label stance as that of godless rock star, but maybe he really is a religious dude.
And in case I was missing that point, Hucknall added, “If I was a priest, for example, to see that happening inside a church seems a complete contradiction to the message that’s given in the Bible. That’s just a literal fact. I can’t see how anyone can really argue that. I don’t see anywhere in there that talks about same sex marriages as being applicable.”
So maybe Hucknall’s trying to tell us something. His new album is titled “Home.” Perhaps rock’s most eligible bachelor is finally ready to settle down? And if not, wouldn’t that same Bible dictate that it’s at least time to start thinking about getting down to the business of procreation?
“I’m not a practicing Christian as such,” he admitted.
Is he practicing only when it comes to prohibiting same sex marriage?
“They really need to grow up on this issue,” Hucknall bitched. “I just haven’t gotten married. I’ve been close a couple times, but I guess I just got smart at the end.”
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