Throwback: Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
1984 was the year when I had to decide what to do with my life and in the spur of a moment, instead of pursuing a university degree, I decided to pick up a trade and started an apprenticeship as hairdresser in the town I’ve lived all my life. A small town at the Southern tip of Germany. An insanely pretty town, postcard pretty even, yet I never felt I’d belong there. In 1984 my English was still only school English and I didn’t fully understand all the lyrics** but the parts that I understood, resonated with me.
1984 was the year when the British band Bronski Beat released their album The Age of Consent, from which the track Smalltown Boy made its way into the charts.
I certainly could relate to “smalltown” and “run away” and “leaving”, which I ultimately did a year later, when I left my smalltown and went to Munich instead, to study there. Had I’ve known the video back then, I’d understood what the song really is about. Then again, for me personally, what it is about, is acceptance and “acceptance” comes in many different forms.
Big kudos to Jimmy Somerville and Bronski Beat for having confronted the masses so directly with homophobia and bringing homosexuality into mainstream conversations. And thanks also for a really cool album, I liked The Age of Consent a lot back then, and I still do.
** The lyrics were even printed on the back of the 7” I had bought and yet, I didn’t get the full meaning without the video. Aren’t lyrics after all works of poetry, and in a way, not always self-explaining? In any case, this is a song that stood its test of time, while it immediately evokes the feelings that have troubled me back then, I find it’s melody beautiful and fresh and its meaning as relevant as ever.