Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's Your Favorite Donna Summer Song?

 
Scene from the Castro

Donna Summer died two weeks ago tomorrow, yet I'm less comfortable with the idea of her not being with us anymore than I was then. Michael and Whitney were self-destructive wrecks, but not Donna. Donna was a church-going wife and mother -- whose mezzo-soprano vocal range made me more likely to believe in God than anything I'd ever heard in church. I spent a huge chunk of yesterday listening to my Donna catalogue, marveling at its variety, sophistication and how influential so much of it was. But more than anything, I was reminded just how much fun it is to listen to over and over, so completely infectious.

The day she died I declared my long-held belief that "Heaven Knows" is my favorite song of hers, but came close to reconsidering a few times yesterday. I would love to hear what YOUR favorite Donna Summer song is -- and feel free to share any memories you have of her music. It's in that spirit that I confess that in 1978 when "Heaven Knows" was riding high on the chart, I mistakenly thought she was singing "Farrakhan"! I was 10 or 11, so this had no political meaning or anything to me. I just thought it was a guy's name, which puts it right up there with "Alex the Seal"!

Please vote in the comments sections.


P.S. One of the things I love about "Heaven Knows" are the backing vocals by Joe Esposito of Brooklyn Dreams, which performed the music. (Donna would later marry band member Bruce Sudano.) Tonight I discovered that Esposito recorded his own version of the song with Donna Summer on backing vocals. It appeared on Brooklyn Dreams' 1979 LP, "Sleepless Nights." Enjoy!

37 comments:

Dave in Texas said...

"I Feel Love" was so ahead of its time in 1977, and so unlike anything else on the radio. It will always be a favorite. 'Bad Girls' is just a great piece of work from Side 1 to Side 4. Our Love/Lucky/Sunset People was an amazing three song knockout to end the record. Donna wrote many of the songs too which is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Love is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)

dishy said...

I seem to be playing THE FROM THE DEEP (DOWN DEEP INSIDE) non stop since she died - that's really hot - however it was released after I FEEL LOVE which eclipsed it. I FEEL LOVE though is one of the pop music's all time masterpieces!

Brian said...

Has to be "She Works Hard for the Money." I can remember watching her HBO special over and over...the one where the set is a diner and waitresses are on roller skates. Oh good times as a small gay boy.

tobyweiss.com said...

Segues were a key component of a Donna Summer album, and Dave in Texas got it spot on with Our Love/Lucky/Sunset People.

Love Will Always Find You & There Will Always Be a You rank real high, as well.

My sentimental favorite is Fairy Tale High.

Heaven Knows wins for having the most infectious chorus ever. And Dim All The Lights never lets up from beginning to end.

Anonymous said...

"Love's Unkind"

Anonymous said...

Thinkin Bout My Baby. This song is just so smoky and sultry. Yet another side of my favorite singer of all time.

Vance said...

I was 10 when On The Radio (Greatest Hits I & II) was released and it was the first cassette my mom bought for me, along with my first walkman.
HEAVEN KNOWS is definitely up there as a favorite, but ON THE RADIO is my all-time fave Summer hit. And I wore that cassette out.
I am still in disbelief that she's gone...

martymartymarty said...

Well, for me, my ultimate favorite is the non-LP b-side "Sometimes Like Butterflies" [later covered by Dusty Springfield]. But for a favorite that's widely known, I have to go with the 17-minute version of "Love To Love You Baby" simply because I have been playing it since I was in kindergarten! It has held very different meanings for me all through my life, but has been a constant aural pleasure. Tied with that, though, is "I Feel Love" 'cos whenever I play it, it goes on REPEAT for dozens of plays. It's just mesmerizing. However, those 2 songs do no justice to the incredible variety of styles and characters that Donna presents in her repertoire. She was such a great songwriter, such a great "singing actress" and that doesn't quite show up in my 2 favorites named above. My all-time favorite *album* by Donna has to be "I'm A Rainbow" because of its breadth of characters and musical variety. It's also very early-80s which makes it irresistible to me. I could write about what Donna's music means to me at too much length to ever go into in a comments section, but I can only say that a few weeks back when you posted that Rolling Stone's Best 500 Albums article and I started to tally up my own, I realized then - luckily, prior to her passing - that other than Boy George she is my most-played and most-constant artist throughout my life. So, anyway, Donna RULES. =)

Tom S. said...

"I Feel Love"

Anonymous said...

I always liked "This Time I Know It's For Real." It's more poppy than dance, but it sounded like a slightly older and wiser Donna had made it past the craziness and was moving on happily.

Anonymous said...

"Enough is Enough" with Barbra

"mr. lopez" said...

On the Radio has been my favorite since it's release. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh - i always loved the Ronettes hommage 'Love's Unkind' but i'd be totally wrong if I said it was any song other than 'I Feel Love'. Man that song changed everything that came after it. What a monumental piece of music. gosh - i even remember my mother back in 1977 hearing it on the radio and commenting to me 'That song is really interesting - all those sounds it sounds like the future' Amazing and she was in her early 40s at the time.

Wayne said...

For me, it's "Rumour Has It" (#53, Pop; #1 Disco; 1978) from "Once Upon a Time," hands down. The song had always been a favorite of mine. With its thumping beat and hot vocals, I'd danced around my room to that song plenty of times as a kid. Five summers later, just two weeks shy of my 17th birthday, the two navy guys who lived down the hall from my family and I snuck me into a suburban Chicago gay bar (my first!). The energy was electric; you could practically smell the testosterone in the air. Within ten minutes of our arrival, the DJ started "Rumour Has It." The dance floor crowded with hot shirtless men almost immediately. I danced my ass off for the next five minutes.

That moment is forever seared into my memory; for it was that night, at the club, dancing to that song, that the shy 16-about-to-turn-17-year-old kid from Prospect Heights, Illinois realized that he had found his tribe. And that heady feeling kept hope alive as I finished my senior year of high school in the northwest suburbs of Chicago (ground zero for the "disco sucks" movement).

When I read the news of Ms. Summer's passing, my eyes filled with tears as I remembered that wonderful night all those years ago. And "Rumour Has It" has been in heavy rotation on my iPod ever since.

Peter Maria said...

This Time I Know It's for Real

Ron said...

I will always love her cover version of Barry Manilow's "Could it Be Magic"...sublime.

PW said...

I have really happy memories of going to Cape Cod (Provincetown..seriously) with my family and listening to "Bad Girls', that album still holds up!

I would go with "Hot Stuff", "Working the Midnight Shift" from 'Once Upon a Time' and "Dinner with Gershwin" from that album in the late 80s that was underwhelming.

I lied, I also love "Stamp Your Feet" from "Crayons".

Anonymous said...

I love "Melody of Love"

Benny Gonzalez said...

Benny in Jersey City said....
Sunset People holds a very special place in my heart. It sings the praises of people who party all night long. That was a true Disco Night.

nojarama said...

"Dim All The Lights" followed very closely by "On The Radio" are my two favorite songs. Album-wise, no question, is the entirety of the "Bad Girls" album. Perfection from beginning to end. She will be missed...

Geoff said...

Rumour has it/ I love you

Growing up in a small Mn town, I had a pretty good life.

However I had a secret and when I heard these
songs...I was so moved and became a life long Donna Summer Fan after that..

Her songs really were a big part of who I am today..I think Gay guys my age just knew Donna was something special..

I heard the news while at work and I have to say it really "hit Me" and almost thought I was going to cry...

Anonymous said...

1. Hot Stuff
2. Bad Girls
3. I Feel Love
4. Love to Love You

Michael said...

My all time favorite is Last Dance. It was the last song they played at almost every Disco, and I always left with a big smile on my face.

Sunset People and Dim on the Lights are a close second. RIP Donna.

Cam Jr said...

My all-time fave that I listen to daily now is, MacArthur Park!!!

joel65913 said...

Always had a soft spot for MacAthur's Park and Last Dance.

Miles said...

My favorite song is "Can't We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over)". Coming in a close second... "Love's About To Change My Heart". Donna was amazing!

Mark said...

My super fun big sister took me to see Donna at Pine Knob in Michigan in August 1979. It was my first concert ever and I will never forget her silhouette above the stage designed like a street corner when she belted out (a capella) "Dim Allllllll The Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiights" -- the queens went APESHIT! (self included even though I had just turned 12 LOL)I LOVE On the Radio, There Will Always Be a You, Our Love, Fairytale High, Love's Unkind, Love is in Control, Unconditional Love, Sunset People, I Feel Love. She was a genius, a legend, and I'm so glad to have lived on this planet at the same time as she did.

James Greenlee said...

My original favorite was "Dim All the Lights." Later, I thought "Last Dance" was one of the best disco songs of all time, so that should be my favorite. And then I discovered that "State of Independence" by Moodswings was originally a Donna Summer song. And that lead to rediscovering "Unconditional Love," and so on, and so on. I love 'em all!

Anonymous said...

Battling to choose - must be the sign of a great artist!
1. "Could it be magic"
2. "I Remember Yesterday"
and
3. "Heaven Knows"for its pure Disco fabulousness!!

Anonymous said...

If There Is Music There
I'm A Fire
Sand On M Feet
Could it Be Magic
I Love You
Love/Lucky/Sunset People

Donny said...

This is hard. Really Hard. I guess I'll go with I Feel Love. Dim All The Lights in second.

I'm so glad everyone is commenting. Donna was/is brilliant. One of the greatest female vocalists of all time.

O-Town Guy said...

Aside from some 70's and 80's-era songs ("Our Love", "Supernatural Love", and, okay. . ."I Feel Love"), my favorites tend to be from her last act, when she just went straight to club msuic and gave up on the idea of being a pop act ever again. I think I liked that material because, intentional or not, there was at least an opportunity to perceive some of those songs as potential gay rights anthems ("Someday", "Carry On"). And, for those who would argue she'd never record something like that. . ,think again. In 1990 she did record a song about everyone needing to fight AIDS and, though the lyrics are a bit vague, one can take it as a call for gay rights, as well. If she didn't feel that way. . .I doubt she would have recorded it, even as a demo. You don't hear our enemies praising us. But Donna at least made an effort in 1990, even if it didn't make it onto 91's "Mistaken Identity". Interesting recording (the first half; the second becomes a world peace anthem though the whole is an enormous missed opportunity). http://soundcloud.com/bobesty/we-are-gonna-win-one-world

Anonymous said...

No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) with the great Streisand

Anonymous said...

Dinner With Gershwin ... so worth listening to if you don't already know it.

Guy from Quebec said...

Hi there; Of her HITS, it MacArthur Park the 12 inch version; from her other recordings though it has to be (Do Believe) I Fell In Love-the b-side from She Works Hard for the Money. I have always said that Donna created me by making me feel important enough to give a damn about. She has always been and will always be an influence in my life. Long live our Queen-Long live DONNA SUMMER!!!

Unknown said...

Growing up I didn't have a favorite- I loved everything she did, and bought just about every single and album that came out. Upon hearing of her passing, "MacArthur Park" is the one I played constantly. She definitely is one of the keynote singers in my lifetime. RIP, sweet songstress.

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