Queer classic: In 1955 the young Gilmer, Texas native Johnny Mathis was discovered singing jazz standards at The 440 Club (a San Francisco gay bar) and in 1957 had a #1 pop hit with the grand and dainty “Chances Are”(words by Al Stillman, music by Robert Allen). It’s dreamy and sexy as hell. Even with “middle of the road” Mitch Miller overseeing the antiseptic production, Mathis’s honey-dripping falsetto made this a “make out” classic. If you were born between 1957 and ’65, flirty Mathis may have coaxed your conception.
Mathis came out publicly in 1982. For me, his coming out really makes the song a gay historical landmark. The lyrics contain no gender specification. There is no doubt about it (now): This is a man professing his man love. The flirty first lines say it all. “Chances are/ Cause I wear a silly grin/ The moment you come into view/ Chances are you think that I’m in love with you.” The accompanying delicate piano, angelic female chorus and precious strings just reek of lavender. During this time, Sinatra was always perceived as the first male vocalist to tackle what was considered “female emotion.” In reality what Mathis did – with this song – was much more profound.
Go see : There’s a plethora of musical goodness coming to town. Attention all My So-Called Life fans. Hottie actor Jared Leto (Jordan Catalano) and his band 30 Seconds To Mars perform Wed, Jun 1 at The Mod Club Theatre (722 College St). Be sure to wear your best grunge flannels. Campy Brit duo Erasure brings The Erasure Show to Massey Hall on Sat, Jun 4 at 8pm (see page 25). On the same night (at the stroke of midnight) the dark and sexy Raveonettes play Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St W). TO cutie-pies The Hidden Cameras play Sun, Jun 5 at The Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne St). Hip-hop hep cats The Digable Planets play The Phoenix, Wed, Jun 8. Martha Wainwright has an early show on Thu, Jun 9 at 7pm at The Mod Club (she’ll be back Fri, Jul 22 at Massey Hall as Loretta Lynn’s opening act).