As we sat down to dinner this evening, I put the radio on (we generally listen to CDs) and caught the six o’clock news. The last item caught my attention, something about Donna Summer and Simon Mayo confirmed it when he came back on air. Donna Summer died today, of cancer.
I never saw her live and the music she released when I was aware of her (apart from “Dinner With Gershwin”) was the Stock, Aitken & Waterman stuff that I didn’t like. The Donna I enjoyed was the one who came out in the middle of the disco wave, working with Giorgio Moroder and letting rip with that tremendous voice over his electronic shenanigans.
In the late 80s, I used to go 2nd hand record buying in Leicester with my friend Craig and one of our usual haunts was a place called Boogaloo Records (it’s not there any longer). They sold pretty much everything, at a good price and I picked up most of Donna Summer’s back catalogue from there, a lot of them gatefold sleeves, almost all of them featuring one track that pretty much lasted a side.
The first album of hers I got was “I Remember Yesterday” and listening to it now, it transports me back to that wonderful 1987 summer - I was driving a car that didn’t keep breaking down, it seemed to be sunny all the time, I was enjoying life, I fell in love - and it makes me smile. I played that LP so often I wore it out (though I now have it on CD) and had to buy another.
A little later, on a trip to Kings Lynn, I picked up a biography of her (which I re-read a couple of years ago) and continued to explore her music, falling completely for “MacArthur Park” and it’s beautiful arrangement that served her voice perfectly.
Donna Summer had a tremendous voice and the world is a little diminished today, for having lost that. The Disco Queen Is Dead, Long Live The Disco Queen. RIP.
This is the song she’s probably best known for - I like it (it appeared on “I Remember Yesterday” and closed the album) but it’s not my favourite.
This is almost my favourite
This is my favourite, a beautiful love song.