A gay reading of “Secret Love” is fairly hard for a current listener to avoid. But to suggest that any credibility that lends the song is undeserved would be wrong: it adds some extra depth to a record that was powerful already. The ingredients of “Secret Love” are fifties cupboard staples: a sweet-voiced singer who can belt it out when she needs to, and a lush and trebly arrangement. But this time the mix is just right – the trills and washes underlying Day’s wandering verse are fairytale pretty, and when she lets rip on “Now I shout it from the highest hills” I can’t help feeling her triumph. Even the awful daffodils rhyme can’t kill the joy.
Crucial to the song’s success is that there’s no suggestion of why the love had to be secret, and certainly no hint of shame – the very nature of love is that you can’t keep it hidden; it must and will come out. Other songs and later singers would find thrills in the secrecy, or invert “Secret Love”‘s innocent bliss to produce fate-haunted epics like “Dark End Of The Street”. But for these three and a half minutes that bliss is the strongest and most natural thing in the world.