(Still) Stayin’ Alive
I was born in 1977, just when disco was starting to become the biggest music and fashion vibe of the world. Sure you, had the original Star Wars debut in May of that year, but I never became a fan of the series. And as an infant and toddler I had no exposure to movies in general yet. What I was exposed to, however, was lots of radio in the car and on record players in homes.
This may not have meant nothing to me if I did not come into my own in the 90s. That’s when music artists, especially rap and hip-hop, began sampling everything from the 70s and 80s that hinted of disco (which itself isn’t really a music style but more a combination of funk, soul, and pop in a highly sugar coated form). Will Smith is one of the more obvious ones, ripping the Men in Black theme song from Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Not’s“.
The more songs that I either heard fro childhood or learned were from childhood, the more I became attached to disco in general. I mean, if all these current artists feel their source material is so good then I should too! It got to a point when I was on family cruises I would always request the Bee Gees so that I could do my best (worst) Saturday Night Fever dance impressions. If we were doing karaoke, I’d request Average White Band, KC and the Sunshine Band, Van McCoy, or even Donna Summer if I was feeling sauced enough.
Club DJs are fond of sampling from the 70s and 80s. One duo in particular, Freemasons, re-ignited my fervor for disco by heavily sampling Jackie Moore’s “This Time Baby“. It was, and still is, a song that I will break into song with and get down with. It’s a great fusion of keeping the original feel but adding to it instead of remixing.
These days, with Youtube I’m never without some megamix or playlist of disco. With that era now almost 40 years past the lens of history shines on it quite strong. Some artists who were chart toppers back then are still making music (like Cher, who seems immortal). Two of the four Gibb brothers are still alive but I’m not sure if they’re still creating. Sadly, the most powerful female voice of that era, Donna Summer, passed in 2012. It was a huge blow to me, moreso since I was listening to her most recent album at the time, Crayons. It wasn’t disco by any means, but the fact it was sung by the disco queen was more than enough.