Coldharbour Lane

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  • In the 1970s, Tom Robinson made a name for himself as a self-professed homosexual; playing bass and fronting his own band he became involved in so-called radical politics. In an interview published in the August 21, 1976 issue of New Musical Express he said "Cruising" was "the first song I wrote after coming to London". Although it is not related to purely homosexual activities, the word cruising means specifically looking for sexual encounters. (A more sordid, related past-time is cottaging, which inspired the George Michael song "Outside"). Robinson though told the paper his composition was not about cruising in the (homo)sexual sense, but "a song detailing the loneliness that so many people feel on coming to live in the big city".

    "Cruising" does not appear on any Robinson discography, but in October 2009 he told this website it had been recorded as "Coldharbour Lane". The song did not appear on disk until 1982, when it found its way onto the Cabaret 79 album, and in spite of Robinson's assertions, it is a song with a specifically homosexual angle.

    The Coldharbour Lane in question is in Brixton, South London, which has a large black population, where Robinson's in-your-face attitude would not have gone down well with the natives. According to the June 24, 1994 issue of Capital Gay, a rally in the area the previous Saturday resulted in at least twenty homosexuals being physically attacked, mostly by blacks. Although remaining a homosexual activist, Robinson surprised many people when he turned his back on homosexuality in favour of a normal, married family life.

    All that being said, "Coldharbour Lane" is a reasonable, laid back, jazzy type of song, saxophone rather than guitar based, which doesn't miss the mark. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
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