Both Alan Turing and Harvey Milk were music lovers.
Alan enjoyed singing out-of-season hymns, loved British Pantomines, which are full of silly songs, and even took up the violin. Even as he had the police over at his residence, he entertained them with an Irish Classic, “Cockles and Mussels.” There is a statue in Dublin honoring Molly Malone, the subject of the song, put up during the mayoralty of Lord Mayor Ben Briscoe, who was a Lithuanian Jew like Harvey Milk. Alan’s musical interests are typical of scientists and mathematicians, many of whom are confirmed music lovers, recognizing that music is a form of audible math.
HARVEY AND OPERA
From the age of eleven Harvey was a determined Opera and Classical music fan. He did not care much for Verdi but loved the music of Wagner, Bruckner, and Mahler. For Harvey listening to music was tantamount to religious experience. Harvey also was fond of ballet. A substantial number of Opera composers are or were gay such as Benjamin Britten and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
HARVEY AND BROADWAY MUSICALS
Harvey also was crazy about Broadway musicals, which is not surprising since they are an homage to Opera. Harvey’s favorite musical was Man of La Mancha, a tribute to Cervantes’ Don Quixote. But he also makes allusions to Guys and Dolls and The King and I. His famous “and you and you and you” may allude both to So Long Farewell from Sound of Music and to the Good Morning song in Singin’ in the Rain. Likewise Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim are/were important gay figures in this arena.
For Harvey to work as producer or stage manager for productions such as Hair, Lenny, and Jesus Christ Superstar must have been a dream come true. These experiences enriched his theatrical skills as a politician.
HARVEY: POPULAR MUSIC OF THE 1970s, and JEWISH MUSIC
Like many gay men of his time, he enjoyed The Rolling Stones as well. According to his biography, however, he got irritated when neighbours played San Francisco based Jefferson Airplane (now Starship) too loud. Harvey also serenaded his last major boyfriend, Doug Franks, with “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca.
Harvey did not typically care for disco, but he was close friends with Sylvester, who performed Mighty Real for Harvey’s last birthday in May 1978. This song is featured in both the movie MILK and in THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK.
Harvey also told his relatives how sad he was he could not come back to Long Island for Passover because he loved singing at seders.
MUSIC AS A HOLY MEDIUM AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN HARVEY AND ALAN’S STORY.
There are many ways to express, experience and further the holy. The music of the Blues, Jazz, and Motown comes to mind as they allowed Black People to pour out their souls and help save White America. Such is the magic of music.
In the Harvey and Alan writings music is used as a vehicle of healing. In all difficult moments experienced by Harvey and Alan, there is a built-in songtrack to help them get through, and many scenes involve them enjoying music together.
And of course, Harvey and Alan make beautiful music in other ways too. It is the same energy, expressed in a varied form.