There appears to be disco in the water these days. I have heard a couple of podcasts revisiting those hot disco nights of the 1970’s, and its origins. Both Stuff You Should Know and Sound Opinions were refreshingly disco-positive, sharing great examples of why disco did not suck. Sure we can all get a little snobby about our music, seeking the best and most obscure bands to show off our musical prowess but c’mon, we can have fun too… right?
When the disco diva, Donna Summer, passed away recently, I was reading her wiki-bio and came to realize that although she is often thought of as a disco queen with a few hits, she was so much more of an artist than I gave her credit for. For example, did you know that she had not one, not two but three double concept albums dealing with topics like past/future music styles combined with present music, a modern-day Cinderella story and prostitution? My personal favorite and a great example of a truly great disco song is “I Feel Love” from I Remember Yesterday. On the Sound Opinions podcast about disco they shared the story that Brian Eno supposedly ran into the studio where he was working with David Bowie and proclaimed “I have just heard the sound of the future!” before putting on this song. Not a bad endorsement. Tell me this doesn’t transcend the disco genre!
The Bee Gee’s (who also had a member pass away recently (Rest in peace Robin Gibb) were disco juggernauts who did not set out to make disco. Inspired by American soul music, the brother’s Gibb inadvertently popularized a genera that took over. They too often get dismissed for their contribution and also worked in the concept album format. Songs like these showcase just how talented they were.
You can’t say Bee Gee’s without mentioning Saturday Night Fever which is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a peek into the past full of drama, love and competition, all set to the quintessential disco soundtrack.
The moral of the story is, don’t be so hard on disco. Not only did some great songs come out of the style but the disco lifestyle embodied a spirit of acceptance and joy that we could all use a little more of these days. Look at it this way, here is a clip about being anti-disco, followed by pure disco exuberance.
If you had to choose where to transport yourself into, which clip would it be?
Good night Village People.