Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 28, 2010
If most of us are products of the era we grew up in during our formulative years, then I’m a product of the disco era. Even though I was quite cognizant of war, civil rights and the like, I came into my own when disco became prominent. I remember loving Rock Your Baby the first time I heard it, and I never looked back. Sure, there was other music I enjoyed, but disco is what made me move, made me feel really good.
Later on there were a lot of people who said they hated disco, but I was always of the opinion that they said they hated it because it seemed to be in vogue. After all, I was in college during some of those years, and they’d have parties on the floor. What I noticed during one party, in which I refused to participate because I didn’t drink beer and I hated smoking and rock music at the time, is that people stood around and talked and did nothing else. One night on my own floor I decided I didn’t want to hear all that noise anymore, so I put on my disco records and turned it up loud. Within 10 minutes someone was knocking on my door, and when I opened it they asked if I could keep my door open because they wanted to hear what I was playing. And shortly afterwards, everyone was dancing and the rock music was gone. One thing guys never understood back then, and I’m not sure they understand now, is that girls love to dance.
With that said I decided to put one of my compilation posts together and highlight my 10 favorite songs of the era, with one added song that wasn’t of the era, but is about the era. This was hard because I could have selected 50 songs. But these 10 were the ones that got me up every time, and even now when I hear them in the car I jack the base up and my wife knows why. And she loves them as well; both children of the same era. Some of these I have stories for, others I just loved the song. Any for many of you too young to know some of these songs, I’m betting you’ve heard them in your favorite commercials.
If You Could Read My Mind – Stars On 54; this wasn’t a real group, and it wasn’t from the disco era. But it was from the movie 54, about the famous club in NYC back in the disco era, and I’ve loved this song from the first time I heard it. Of course it’s a remake of a Gordon Lightfoot song that I also liked a lot.
Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste of Honey, and my first introduction into the reality that there were women who played instruments and got down with the best of them. Who could resist that bass line; not me!
Staying Alive – Bee Gees; by the time this song came out we were ready for a revolution. John Travolta was already big on Welcome Back Kotter, and this showed him and the music in a different light. What disco didn’t have a multi-colored dance floor once this movie came out?
Turn The Beat Around – Vicki Sue Robinson; I don’t have a tale for this one, and I have no idea why I love it so much.
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry; are there too many more distinctive opening riffs than the one for this song? I have to admit that it wasn’t for at least 10 years that I learned these guys weren’t black; shows how I never paid attention to the lyrics of a song that I actually knew all the lyrics to.
Car Wash – Rose Royce; I heard this song around the time the movie came out, and the combination of the two cemented it in my mind. Of course, the movie was fairly stupid, but it had some big name performers in it, including Richard Pryor.
I Love The Nightlife – Alicia Bridges; here’s another song where I’m not really sure why it meant so much to me, except that I love how she says “disco round”.
Ain’t No Stopping Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead; the first time I heard this song I knew it was something different, something inspirational, and I pull it out from time when I feel I need a mental boost.
Shake Your Body Down To The Ground – Jacksons; come on, Michael Jackson and his brothers after all! I actually saw them in concert a month after this song hit #1, but my friend and I, being stupid, left a little early to try to beat the traffic home and missed them performing this song, a mistake I didn’t make a second time when I saw them in Buffalo 4 years later.
We Are Family – Sister Sledge; I loved this song a lot already, but then it was the theme song for the 1979 baseball champion Pittsburgh Pirates, when I was a big fan, and thus it worked its way deeper into my heart as my second favorite disco song.
Last Dance – Donna Summer; I loved Donna Summer, and I love Donna Summer now. This song almost seems to have been the last song of the disco era as well, but my mind is probably romanticizing that. It came from the movie Thank God It’s Friday, so technically it’s not a Donna Summer song, but no one else could have pulled it off and made it such a great song from a mediocre movie.