Tag Archive | Disco

I Will Survive

April 7, 2020

A Different Kind Of Fever

LIT181EA_12in-DISCO-BALLIn the spring of 1979 a different sort of fever gripped the United States. This fever, however, was one that encouraged people to get together in large groups. We called it Disco Fever. By the spring of that year, the musical airwaves were dominated by the catchy beat of Disco tunes and artists such as the Bee Gees, ABBA, and Donna Summer.

There was one song from that year – unlike any others – which has spanned generations and remains popular 40 years later. That song is I Will Survive.

On April 7, 1979, Gloria Gaynor’s anthem topped the Billboard Charts. The song’s path to popularity was one of being almost an afterthought… and yet the song survived and thrived. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“Originally released as the B-side to a cover version of the Righteous Brothers song ‘Substitute’, ‘I Will Survive’ became a worldwide hit for Gaynor when disc jockeys played that side of the record instead (kick-started by legendary Studio 54 DJ Richie Kaczor). ‘Substitute’ appeared on the Billboard ‘Bubbling Under the Hot 100’ chart for four weeks in October–November 1978, peaking at No. 107. ‘I Will Survive’ then entered the Billboard Hot 100 in December that year and reached No. 1 on the chart in March 1979.”GLORIA_GAYNOR_SUBSTITUTE-402771

Even its three weeks at number one on the charts was unconventional. In March it arrived there for two weeks – March 10th and 17th – only to be knocked out by the Bee Gee’s song Tragedy. Yet, I Will Survive was back at number one two weeks later.

In writing this article I had to go out and find a YouTube of the Bee Gee’s Tragedy to remember it. Such has never been the case for Gloria Gaynor’s famous work. In list after list of ‘best’ songs, I Will Survive can be found. The Infallible Wikipedia provides additional information:

“The song received the Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980, the only year the award was given. It is ranked #492 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’, and ranked at #97 on Billboard magazine’s ‘All-Time Hot 100’.  In 2000, the song was ranked #1 in VH1’s list of the 100 greatest dance songs.

Go to any dance today and you are more likely than not to hear this song. Teens respond to its catchy beat and Gaynor’s soulful vocals with the same enthusiasm the young people of 1979 did.

The song has also become an anthem for anyone – particularly women – devastated by a relationship breakup. And perhaps that is one of the reasons for the song’s success. Its message resonates for souls whose heart has been broken only to discover their inner strength and be able to move on.

As a romance writer, breakups and finding one’s inner strength is elemental to many a story line. In fact, it is a theme which never gets old and connects with readers because nearly all have experienced it. I Will Survive taps in to that emotion, that moment in time, when the epiphany occurs. It’s storytelling at its best. That, I believe, is the essence of its staying power. The lyrics speak a universal truth which transcends time. My favorite lyrics of the song:

It took all the strength I had not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart
And I spent, oh, so many nights just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry but now I hold my head up high

And you see me, somebody new
I’m not that chained up little girl still in love with you
And so you felt like dropping in and just expect me to be free
But now I’m saving all my loving for someone who’s loving me

Stay Healthy everyone. We will SURVIVE!

I feel strongly that the co-writer’s of the song need to be acknowledged:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddie_Perren

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dino_Fekaris

And, of course, a link for the song itself:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Will_Survive

Saturday Night Fever

The Bee Gees

February 12, 2019

It was this trio’s  sound which came to define a  craze which swept the United States in 1978. By early January the Bee Gees dominated the Billboard charts. They would go on  to have three number one singles that year, solidifying Disco as the ‘sound’.

On February 12th the Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive, the song featured in the opening segment of the hit movie Saturday Night Fever, was in the middle of a four week stint at the top.  Two months earlier, on December 17, 1977, the movie captured the attention of the country. Soon guys were donning their own white disco suits and gals strapped on wedgy high heels and wore swingy dresses, flooding dance floors everywhere as they gyrated to the catchy beat.

More than the movie, however, it was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that defined the era. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“It remains the best selling soundtrack of all time with over 45 million units sold. In the United States, the album was certified 16× Platinum for shipments of at least 16 million units. The album stayed atop the album charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978 and stayed on Billboard‘s album charts for 120 weeks until March 1980. In the UK, the album spent 18 consecutive weeks at No. 1. The album epitomized the disco phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic and was an international sensation. The album has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being culturally significant.”

Saturday-Night-Fever-Soundtrack-Ristampa-Vinile-lp2.jpgThe Bee Gees, already a successful group, had no small part in the creation of the soundtrack. In all, eight of their original songs are featured. But for the fact that Columbia records refused the producers the rights to use Boz Skaggs song Lowdown, the Bee Gees might never have gotten involved.

Movie producer, Robert Stigwood, contacted Robin Gibb who related the conversation as this:

“We were recording our new album in the north of France. And we’d written about and recorded about four or five songs for the new album when Stigwood rang from LA and said, ‘We’re putting together this little film, low budget, called Tribal Rites of a Saturday Night. Would you have any songs on hand?’, and we said, ‘Look, we can’t, we haven’t any time to sit down and write for a film’. We didn’t know what it was about.”

What happened next is that most of the songs were written in one weekend and the rest, they say, is history.

bee gees 1978.jpgAlthough the Bee Gees may have lost an album that year, their place in the annals of musical legends was solidified.

As a 20 year old college co-ed, I was not immune from the disco craze. A student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, myself and a sorority sister enrolled in a Disco dancing class at Tacoma Community College.

For a number of weeks we attended the class where we learned all the fancy footwork, arm movements and twirls of the dance.  I bought a white dress with a handkerchief hem, donned my white wedge sandals, and was soon going out dancing.

Despite my natural klutziness, I managed to dance with the best of them and, in the process, met a recent alumni from one of the fraternities who turned out to be the best dancer I ever knew. Alan knew every step, every move, and was a great teacher and partner. Dancing with him was magical.

At the time I did not appreciate what a unique time or experience it was. By 1979 Disco had faded due – I think – to the reluctance of the majority of the male population to learn the dances.  It was soon replaced with moon walking and other forms of dance and then, in the late 1980’s, with the phenomenon of country line dancing. And so it goes throughout history.  But for me, whenever I hear Stayin’ Alive or any Bee Gee song of that era, I find myself busting the moves. Just don’t tell my daughter, okay?

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Fever_(soundtrack)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Gees