Last Dance…

So I wake up this morning to the news that songstress Donna Summer has passed away. Thanks to twitter and Facebook there is no escaping such news even before her reps can confirm the claim. Apparently she had lung cancer and died at the age of 63. Upon hearing the report, I do what I usually do in cases like this. First I repost the story on my various social media outlets. I must inform my friends. No need for me to be sad by myself. Then I go to youtube and find my favorite piece from said artist, be it a clip from a movie they starred in, an interview or favorite song. For Donna Summer I easily recalled my favorite song by her and searched for On the Radio. The song is classic despite the cheesy lyrics which make an awesome reference to homie having “a hole in his old brown over coat”. Today, for the first time, I examined that lyric and put together that this indicates he left her and he was broke. Hmmm. I was a kid when I loved this song. Who knew it was a forecast for what was to come? Ha!

Whatever the case, I can’t really account for why On the Radio was the first of her songs to come to my mind as the favorite. Perhaps because of the way it conveys the hunger of missing someone and carries my favorite theme of unrequited love, which I can now trace to my pre-adolecence. I just know it starts off slow and sad, then the beat kicks in bringing with it that illusive sense of hope, and before you know it, you are dancing around the room using a hair brush as a mic, almost forgetting that broke ass scrub and your impending loneliness. I love this song…

Then I remembered Summer’s iconic hit, She Works Hard For the Money. Seeing my favorite childhood diva rock this song out while dressed as a waitress was an empowering message for me as a child and still is actually… “She works hard for the money. So hard for it honey. She works hard for the money so you better treat her right!” Dude, I still quote to this song. It’s usually in reference to strippers, but still…

I have a clear memory from the 80’s of my dad picking me up from school in his 1975 navy blue Ford Maverick. When I think back, I see the vinyl seats have a light film of dirt, they are hot, and always stick to my skin. Its dusty in the Maverick and distinctly Dad’s car, which is littered with various convenience store snack wrappers and smells of cigarettes, the opposite of Mom’s car. We take the short drive home and always listen to the radio. Songs that I recall from these rides with Dad are Blondie, The Tide Is High, Bill Withers Just The Two of Us, and this one…

Some other favorites of mine from her song catalog are I Feel Love, Heaven Knows, Bad Girls, Love to Love You, and Hot Stuff, just to name a few. These songs and many others no doubt carry memories of people and places from times long gone for a whole generation way before my own. Yet despite gender, sexual identity, age, and ethnicity, today we unite in remembrance. Before the era of studio voice engineering, or artists like Madonna, Britney, or Gaga, there was Donna Summer. Like MJ, Whitney, and the countless other music legends who have departed before her, she will live on through the music. Those dance beats behind her perfect pitch cry with that telling hint of longing in her voice, will play on…


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