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Bob Dylan, Kesha reimagine popular love songs to honor LGBTQ couples

"Love is universal. Shouldn't love songs be too?" Musical artists switch pronouns on popular love songs to celebrate same-sex couples.
by Vanessa Guillen Matheus /
Image: Kesha and Bob Dylan
Kesha and Bob Dylan have reimagined popular love sons to honor the LGBTQ community.AP

Bob Dylan, Kesha and St. Vincent are among the musical artists who have reimagined popular love songs to honor the LGBTQ community, and they are doing so by switching pronouns.

The six-song album, “Universal Love,” was released digitally Thursday and includes Benjamin Gibbard of alternative band Death Cab for Cutie, singer-songwriter Valerie June and Kele Okereke of the indie rock group Bloc Party.

"Love is universal. Shouldn't love songs be too?," a website created for the album states.

Universal Love Artists. Album of Reimagined Love Songs Features Artistic Vision of Bob Dylan, Kesha, Benjamin Gibbard, St. Vincent, Valerie June and Kele Okereke.
Universal Love Artists. Album of Reimagined Love Songs Features Artistic Vision of Bob Dylan, Kesha, Benjamin Gibbard, St. Vincent, Valerie June and Kele Okereke.MGM Resorts

Dylan reworked “She’s Funny That Way” into “He’s Funny That Way,” singing lines like “I got a man crazy for me.” Others have changed the pronoun of the classic song in the past, but they were mainly women, including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minnelli, Etta James and Diana Ross.

Kesha, who has a large gay fan base and has been a longtime supporter of equal rights for the LGBTQ community, closes the album with “I Need a Woman to Love Me,” a spinoff of Janis Joplin’s “I Need a Man to Love Me.”

"I've always been an advocate for equal rights. It's an issue that is so close to my heart. It is something that is part of my family, part of my friends and is a part of me," Kesha said in a video interview released with the album. "When I was approached for this project, I instantly said yes. It was a no brainer, and I fought my entire life and my whole career for equality, and I will continue to do so forever."

Image: St. Vincent performs in Park City
St. Vincent performs in Park City, Utah on on Jan. 23, 2017.Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Grammy-winning singer St. Vincent reworked The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” to “Then She Kissed Me” on the album.

"I think if you look at the history of music, it's always been about changing the culture. If you are a musician, if you are a writer or a storyteller, you get to tell the stories that people see themselves in," the singer-songwriter said. "The great thing about music is that transcends all the barriers, and it goes right to people's heart, and everyone has a heart."

Image:  Valerie June performs in New York
Valerie June performs in New York on Jan. 27, 2018.Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images file

Valerie June, who takes on the 1930s classic “Mad About the Boy” and reimagines it as “Mad About the Girl," said when she was first approached about the album, she thought about her cousin Melanie who recently married her girlfriend.

"I thought about them and how beautiful their wedding was," June said. "They dated for many years before they got married, and I thought about how awesome and beautiful everything is for them now."

Universal Love, Because Love + Music Are Universal Languages.  Album of Reimagined Love Songs Features Artistic Vision of Bob Dylan, Kesha, Benjamin Gibbard, St. Vincent, Valerie June and Kele Okereke.
Universal Love, Because Love + Music Are Universal Languages. Album of Reimagined Love Songs Features Artistic Vision of Bob Dylan, Kesha, Benjamin Gibbard, St. Vincent, Valerie June and Kele Okereke.MGM Resorts

“Universal Love,” available on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, was produced by MGM Resorts and is distributed through Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings.

“We believe projects like this will help all of us reach a point where seeing the world through the lens of people who happen to be different from us becomes natural and commonplace,” said Phyllis James, MGM Resorts’ chief diversity and corporate social responsibility officer.

Kele Okereke reworked The Temptations’ “My Girl” into “My Guy” for the album, and Benjamin Gibbard re-recorded The Beatles’ 1960s hit, “And I Love Her,” to create “And I Love Him.”

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