Singer Donna Summer died today at the age of 63; she'd been battling breast cancer, though sources say she was trying to keep her condition private. Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the US Billboard chart. Arguably the voice of disco, Summer's hits include "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff," "She Works Hard for the Money" and "Bad Girls."
When I was a kid, one summer in the '70s I moved from Atlanta to New York, and Donna Summer was the soundrack of that summer. I had a Wonder Woman bathing suit and rollerskates and a Fisher Price record player, and I played "Love To Love You Baby" over and over again. I would force my sister or brother to stand on a stool at the lightswitch and flick the lights on and off so our bedroom would be like a "disco."
I was really into gymnastics, and went to a class where we did a choreographed tumbling routine to "Bad Girls." I don't think it dawned on me until years later how sexualized these songs were: The orgasmic "Love To Love You," the prostitution overtones in "Bad Girls." (Toot toot ah, beep beep.)
I never understood the "disco sucks" attitude: Donna Summer had one of the most emotional voices ever recorded, and her songs weren't just for dancing; they were anthems. Full of pain, hopes, dreams, love. She will be missed.