So sad about Donna Summer's death. I've loved her since I was a little boy. So many memories: Buying the "Love To Love You Baby" 45. Coveting the Four Seasons of Love calendar. Learning that my freckle-faced, blond-haired elementary school crush loved "On The Radio" too. Saving for weeks to buy the Bad Girls double LP, then in a moment of grace--or divorce guilt--receiving it as a gift from my parents.
I know people will be playing all the hits in the days to come, and I have my faves: "Sunset People," "Spring Affair," and on and on. But I thought I'd share some of my favorite underrated jams.
First off, everyone should check out the 1981 album, I'm A Rainbow, which remained unreleased until 1996. I got a copy back in the late '80s. I'd tell you how I got it, but I'd have to first check with a lawyer to make sure that the statue of limitations has run out. Anyway, here are my three fave cuts from that album:
1) "People Talk" -- This song meant so much to me, when I was contemplating coming out and actually being in love with a guy. Will never forget the lyrics: "People talk/so let people talk/We won't hit the ground/if we are the talk of the town..."
2) "Melanie" -- The beat says everything about being a teenager in the '80s.
3) "Don't For Me Argentina" -- 'Cause it's fuckin' Donna Summer singing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." Duh!
4) "Breakaway" -- Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a guy who can't stay put. This song speaks to me as much today as it did the first time I heard it.
5) "Bad Girls (Demo)" -- As much as I love the original, this version speaks to the snarling, middle-finger-up rocker boy at my core.
6) "Dinner With Gershwin" -- This single is almost considered a joke among many of her fans, but I can deeply relate to its message about desiring to touch greatness.
7) "State of Independence" -- I was the DJ at my junior high Halloween dance. I played this song and the entire dance floor cleared. I learned two things about myself: 1) I don't really give a fuck what kind of music other people like, and 2) I'll probably never be a popular DJ.
8) "When Love Cries" -- A totally underrated jam. It's Donna doing the '90s and doing it well. I remember the first time I heard this on a Baltimore radio station riding in the car--a red Neon--with my boyfriend, Seth. It still brings me back to being young and loved.
10) "My Life" -- I first heard this song at a really low point in my life. I was fuckin' 30. I felt like I hadn't done anything in my life. I didn't have a boyfriend. But this song about reigniting youthful dreams really touched me and made me feel like the future was in my own hands.