Nov 16, 2012

Don't Cry Now: David and Andy Williams

Born in 1960, twins David and Andy Williams (the latter named after their famous crooner uncle) began their teen idol career performing on Uncle Andy's variety show -- true, no kids watched, but that's how the Osmonds got their start.

Two albums followed.; Meet David and Andy Williams (1973) and One More Time (1973).  They consisted mostly of covers of old r&b classics, like "Baby Love" (The Supremes), "Going Out of my Head" (Little Anthony & the Imperials), and "I Won't Last a Day Without You" (The Carpenters).  Their vocal range and expression rivaled anything that David Cassidy could do.

Unfortunately, I didn't know it at the time.  I didn't buy their albums -- no one I know did.  And their singles weren't playing on the radio.  "I Don't Know Why" did the best, hitting #37 in March 1973.  Maybe their music was just a little to mature for kid audiences, like Craig Huxley's a few years before.

I only knew them from the teen magazines, which were predictably ecstatic, published dozens of pictures of the duo -- not a lot of shirtless or swimsuit shots, usually in soft, fluffy sweaters, with captions that might or might not be suggestive: "Come snuggle with us!"; "Check us out, top to toe!"  But who wanted to see such slim, soft, fragile-looking boys with their shirts off?  They probably didn't have any muscles at all..

They thought their career would jump-start with a January 1974 guest shot on the wildly popular Partridge Family: they had a crush on Laurie Partridge, and sang "Say It Again."

It turned out to be their swan song.  After another album and a few more guest appearances, the duo vanished.

But not really.  They opened for Roy Orbison and Susan Vega, played back-up, toured with T-Bone Burnett's band, and studied music.  They shifted their emphasis from bubble gum pop to a gutsy, hard-driving country rock, and released new albums -- Two Stories, Harmony Hotel, The Williams Brothers.

 David recognized that he was gay in 1979, and their music began to reflect the anger of facing homophobic bigotry and injustice every day, as well as other themes that can resonate with gay and heterosexual fans:

"Secretly" reveals the heartache of not being able to tell anyone about your love.

"Don't Cry Now" is a tribute to friends who died of AIDS.

"People are People": we're all the same inside, regardless of "religion, sexuality, color, or nationality."

They don't look soft and fragile anymore.