Tag Archive | music

Peter Donnelly appreciation post

Doing this separately from the regular music-rec posts because, whoo boy, tracking the guy down at all was a Journey.

Peter Donnelly does soft rock/folk pop — think Dan Fogelberg, but gay romances instead of straight ones. Some of the lyrics get to be more direct and nuanced than any “highly LGBTQ-relatable feelings, but wrapped in a layer of metaphor” songs. Others are sweet and heartfelt without any gender-specificity. Some are just funny or weird. Most of them are really pretty.

…and almost none of them are findable online anymore.

It took a bunch of searching just to find non-dead links about the right Peter Donnelly. This is the one who did A Sure Thing (AllMusic, Amazon, the producer’s website) and Express Café (AllMusic Amazon).

Can’t stream any of his songs on Amazon or Spotify. Can’t get the lyrics…pretty much anywhere. If you have one of the CDs, Windows Media won’t be able to identify it. The only audio left on YouTube is “a couple of well-buried shaky-cam videos of live performances” and “this one fanvid I made.”

I did finally think to check the Internet Archive — they have a version of his website from 2013! Which is the only place I found any info about his last album, Road With No End (consider its threadbare Amazon listing). Plus a tiny treasure trove of sample .wma files.

Facebook has a pretty recent live performance (non-embeddable), and reports the duo of Donnelly and Richardson having future gigs as well as past ones. So apparently he’s still around. Hasn’t changed his name, or died, or anything drastic like that.

He’s just…staying way off the internet.

(Feel free to compose your own “and who can blame him” jokes here.)

So at this point you may be thinking “hang on, Erin, you are not exactly a known aficionado of obscure and/or indie music. How do you even know about this guy?”

Well, in the late 2000’s he was one of various LGBT+ performers and speakers that my college’s Alliance hired to do their thing on-campus.

(About that club name: it started as the Gay/Straight Alliance, then the community acronym started expanding, and somebody with excellent foresight realized we’d be changing the name every few years if we tried to keep up. So we sidestepped that problem by dropping the descriptor at all.)

(Still unimpressed about the time I was trying to get formal authorization for some club thing, the admin person assumed we were the Environmental Alliance, and when I clarified that actually we were the gay one, they went “wait, that’s a school-accredited club?” Like it was a surprise.)

Express Cafe cover, signed

So Peter Donnelly set up at the local coffeehouse, and did some songs, and I thought they were great.

I bought both the CDs he was selling! I got them signed! I am so glad I still have that physical evidence, now that it’s all dropped off the face of the web!

This whole thing has really driven home that in-person stuff is important. Local community groups are important. Outreach to the people in your area is important. You never know what you’re going to be saving for each other.

…I can only find Express Café in my CD rack right now. Went ahead and scanned the whole lyric booklet. If anyone comes across this post looking for Peter Donnelly lyrics and/or Express Café lyrics…here they are, straight from the source:

Express Cafe lyrics, part 1

Express Cafe lyrics, part 2

I did type up the Dangerous Games lyrics — not long after I bought the album, wow. For the rest of the songs, you’ll have to do your own transcriptions.

If I ever find my copy of A Sure Thing, I’ll scan the materials from that too.

…and since there’s no longer any way to get this audio directly from the artist, or through a sales channel that supports him, I’m just gonna leave these here.

Express Café (full album, plus the cover/back/booklet art, 80.4 MB)
A Sure Thing (partial album, 3/4 of the songs, 46 MB)

Music recs: Mikey Wax, Mylène Farmer, Nightwish

Hey, if you’re checking out the songs in these roundups, drop a comment and let me know? I’m going to finish off the list either way, just for the personal fun of it, but I’m curious who else they’re reaching.


Mikey Wax: fun modern pop/rock with top-40 catchiness. (Mikey Wax playlist.)


Mylène Farmer: dreamy pop, electronic rock/dance, mostly in French, occasionally with gay themes. She holds the record for most number-one hits in the French charts. (Mylène Farmer playlist.)

This one is a live concert performance where she sings the whole song, then the instruments and the dancers keep going, she says (in French) “One more time, all together now!”, and with minimal prompting gets the audience to sing the whole song back to her:

And this last one is just straight-up Little Prince filk:


Nightwish: Epic, symphonic goth metal. They’re Finnish, but the lyrics are mostly in English — and if they need a full orchestral accompaniment, they’re happy to call in the London Philharmonic. (Nightwish playlist.)

Music recs: Lorie, Marc Almond, Michael Stanley [Band]

Lorie: fun, catchy, energetic ’00s teen pop (mostly French). She’s also the French VA for a bunch of animated characters, so you can imagine any of these being sung by, say, Tinkerbell or Violet Parr. (Lorie playlist.)

This first one is a cheesy bilingual song about a cross-cultural romance:


Marc Almond: synthpop, new-wave, drag-show cabaret. He was the lead singer of Soft Cell (i.e. the Tainted Love guy); this is mostly the solo stuff he did afterward. (Marc Almond playlist.)

This last one is a heartfelt song about the drag scene:


Michael Stanley [Band]: classic ’70s and ’80s rock with a working-class Midwestern heart. It’s like if the E Street Band was from Ohio. Their highest-charting single even got Clarence Clemons on sax. (Michael Stanley Band playlist.)

Music recs: Kansas, Laura Branigan, Lifehouse

Kansas: classic rock with complex symphonic arrangements. All we are is dust in the wind, man. (Kansas playlist.)


Laura Branigan: pop-rock, synthpop, dance, heartfelt hurt/comfort love songs. (Laura Branigan playlist.)


Lifehouse: Post-grunge alt-rock. Some of the songs have spiritual overtones, but they’re not a religious band. (Lifehouse playlist.)

This first one is an eerily-perfect “Stephen Colbert” theme song.

Music recs: Jean-Jacques Goldman, Julia Ecklar, ABWH

Jean-Jacques Goldman: pop-rock, currently the highest-grossing French-language artist alive in the genre. (Jean-Jacques Goldman playlist.)


Julia Ecklar: filk (SFF-themed folk music produced by fandom), in between being a sci-fi writer. Covers the gamut from “earnest odes to space exploration” to “comedy songs about tribbles.” (Julia Ecklar playlist.)

(See also: To Touch The Stars playlist, a multi-artist album of space-exploration tribute songs.)


Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe: progressive rock, four former members of Yes that released a single album as their own group. No specific homages (that I know of), but IMO it has the same general weird/hopeful/cosmic vibe of ’70s-’80s SF. (ABWH playlist.)

Music recs: Icehouse, Jack’s Mannequin, Jann Arden

Icehouse – new-wave synth-pop, lots of romantic ’80s earnestness. Originally known as Flowers, published an album titled Icehouse, then changed their band name to Icehouse, because why make things easy. (Icehouse playlist. The end has a bunch of videos with lyrics, but apparently-random instrumental audio.)

Jack’s Mannequin – 2000’s California alt-rock. Touching, melancholy/hopeful — the frontrunner retired the name in part because these albums were “wrapped up in a whole lot of turmoil and tumult in a very difficult time in [his] life.” (Jack’s Mannequin playlist.)

Jann Arden – romantic pop, lot of yearning ballads. (Jann Arden playlist.)

Music recs: Gregorian, Hayley Westenra, Heart

Starting with a multi-artist cover band.

Gregorian – Gregorian-chant-inspired covers of pop/rock songs, full choir and all. They record in churches and only pick songs that are “translatable into the 7-tone scale,” which I assume is more historically authentic. (Gregorian playlist. Switches to non-cover-music Gregorian chanting around track 175.)


(Pink Floyd)


(Sarah Brightman)


(Celine Dion)


(Simon & Garfunkel)


(anyway here’s Wonderwall)


Hayley Westenra – operatic new-age classical-pop singer. Apparently has songs in over a dozen languages — including Maori, Japanese, Spanish, and (since she did a version of “May It Be”) Quenya. (Hayley Westenra playlist.)


Heart – classic ’70s rock, lots of big hair and power ballads. (Heart playlist.)