Flavorwire Premiere: Dane Terry’s “Normal At Last” Skewers Queer Homogeneity

Dane Terry has, over the course of his 31 years, been a stand-up comedian, a magician, a ventriloquist, and an actor. But, of all of those things, Dane Terry is perhaps best at being a singer-songwriter. (Admittedly, we have not seen his ventriloquism.) And, though he is a singer-songwriter, he’s not at all like the rest of 2015‘s bountiful crop. In Terry we have Randy Newman, sardonic and ironic, but filtered through a modern-era queer lens. His “Normal At Last,” which we’re premiering here, is almost a perfect encapsulation of that.

The song, which is taken from his album Color Movies (released in March via Tonk Records), is what Terry calls a “love letter to Randy.” It is, for sure: produced by Matt Katz, the track has a helluva swing and mean horns. Perhaps most Newman-esque of all, it’s hiding some rather sharp lyrics that comment on the need for “freaks” who “don’t need a costume/ makeup, or wig,” because they’re “normal at last.”

Of the compromises made by queer culture to avoid marginalization, Terry says:

Whenever a counter-culture, anti-culture, sub-culture, underground thing gets absorbed into the mainstream, it loses its face. I’m noticing that. I’m vying for a more equal cultural trade. So the world gave us marriage and kids? Thanks! Now, take this bottle of poppers and let us give you a life-changing rim-job in the bathroom of the gay bar you think it’s fun to go to because they play such great music.

The message wouldn’t come across nearly as elegantly if Terry weren’t gifted with such a voice, a weird mix of Antony and Woody Guthrie, somehow both world-weary and bleary-eyed. He’s mastered, too, the ambiguity that’s key to the success of “Normal At Last” (and Randy Newman), calling it the “engine” of his song.

Listen to it below, and if you’re in New York, check out his show Bird in the House at La Mama, which runs April 17 thru 26, where he’ll be performing as a singer, songwriter, and perhaps half a dozen other things.