Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 Dope Donna Summer Cuts You've Prob Never Heard

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.

9) "Lush Life" -- When I was 13, Donna introduced me to this Billy Strayhorn classic about "jazz and cocktails," "going to gay places" and relaxing "on the axis of the wheel of life to get the feel of life." I can proudly say that I now know all of those things very well.

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. 

R.I.P. Queen. 

1 comment:

QH said...

Nice work. Typically, at least the fans I've spoken with, revere the Brenda Russell penned "Dinner With Gershwin". One critic opined it was her finest post-Casablanca single. Either way, I enjoyed this.-QH