I wanted to write something about the passing of Donna Summer. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized her music never really qualified as “mine.” Sure, I heard her songs a million times growing up, but her peak – 1976-79 – came before I was reposnible for the music that I listened to. I heard tons of Donna Summer songs because I had young parents who listened to pop music, especially disco.
So while her passing is sad, I feel like my mom, who would have been 60, would have reacted more strongly. Perhaps a little like I responded to Adam Yauch’s death two weeks ago.
He’s not my mom’s age, but Joe Posnanski is a couple years older than me, and thus fell into Donna’s era more directly. Of course he wrote a brilliant piece about her death and his childhood. Go read it.
More than anything, I listened to Last Dance. I don’t remember hearing that song as a child … I mean, I know heard it many, many times because I still know all the words but I don’t remember any specific time I heard it. I connect no particular moment to it (even though I know it was on the Freaky Friday soundtrack). But there is something I connect to it, a time, a vague, indeterminate feeling. I didn’t ask to be a child of disco. I didn’t not ask to grow up in an AM radio time and place where Elton John lip synching on American Bandstand felt like the cutting edge of music. I didn’t choose to hear Last Dance again and again and again rather than, say, Darkness of the Edge of Town or Elvis Costello or The Clash or whoever might have been cooler.
Also, rest in peace Robin Gibb.