Inspired by November 15 birthdays of ABBA‘s Anni-Frid Lyngstad, The Drifters’ Clyde McPhatter, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, The Trammps’ Jimmy Ellis, Little Willie John, C.W. McCall, and Soul Survivors’ Richie Ingui.
In October of 1975, the band Queen played for their manager, John Reid, a song they recently finished recording that they wanted to release as their next single. Reid told them the track would not get any airplay. He played it for another artist he managed, Elton John, who reportedly said “Are you mad? You’ll never get that on the radio!”
Queen stayed firm, not relenting when their record company begged them to at least edit the song down from its nearly six-minute duration.
To promote the song, the band was invited to play on England’s hugely successful Top of the Pops television program. They were unable to appear due to tour commitments, so they did something that wasn’t very common in 1975 – they filmed a videoclip. Top of the Pops aired the clip. As the song rose up the charts, the video was shown repeatedly. Soon other artists in the UK made videos for their records, which is why when MTV launched in the United States in 1981, many of the clips they aired were of UK acts.
The single, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” went to #1 in England in December of that year, where it stayed for nine weeks. It got knocked from the top spot by a song whose title consisted of a phrase used in “Bohemian Rhapsody” – ABBA’s “Mamma Mia.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit #1 again there in December of 1991, a few weeks after the death of the band’s lead singer and the song’s composer, Freddie Mercury.
In the United States, the song didn’t go to #1, but it did hit the top ten in 1976 and 1992.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour revisits 1976 (part I can be found here), kicking off with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“I will never do a disco album. I’d prefer to do deodorant commercials. I didn’t sing since I was ten years old so I could stand up like a moron and go ‘Getfunkynow, getfunkynow, getboogie-woogie, getfunkynow’.”
– Alicia Bridges, Sounds magazine
Alicia Bridges. You know, the lady who sang “I love the nightlife, I gotta boogie on the disco round.” She co-wrote that song as well. That record is a disco classic, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Disco chart. It crossed over to the pop chart, hitting #5, and the r&b chart, where it reached #31. It was Bridges’ only top 40 hit on any chart. Nowadays she shills for Arrid Extra Dry. Not really.
Today, Alicia Bridges turns 63 years old. Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and we’ll celebrate Ms. Bridges’ birthday with a playlist she’s bound to hate, full of disco hits, kicking off with “I Love the Nightlife (Disco ‘Round).” Getboogiewoogie!
Oh, and what is a disco round?
‘Cause when the train of thought gets off the track
The engineer, naturally, starts pullin’ back
I started meditating three weeks ago. Actually, I started meditating again three weeks ago. I’ve tried it before in fits and starts, but never made it past one month.
Much has been written about the benefits of meditation, which is why I continue to try. According to a graphic on the website Art of Living, meditation reduces ageing, helps one appreciate life more, increases one’s attention span, improves metabolism, and “helps you have a good night sleep.” I put that last phrase in quotes so you know the poor grammar is the fault of the creator of the quoted chart, not me. This person also wrote that meditation “keeps your stress-free.” Clearly it also makes you words. Meditation also “adds more hours to your day,” which I didn’t think was scientifically possible. Meditation may also keep one from making snarky comments about someone else’s Benefits of Meditation graphic, so I’ll keep trying.
I do guided meditations. A calm voice tells me what to do, and while I try to do what the calm voice says, my mind jumps all over the place. The sessions go something like this:
“Take a deep breath in through your nose.”
(inhale) I’m congested. I need to go to CVS and pick up more Claritin. I hate CVS.
“Now exhale through your mouth.”
(exhale) While at CVS I should get a flu shot.
“Gently close your eyes and feel your weight on the chair.”
I need to go to the gym. When I’m done meditating I’ll do some cardio.
“Scan down your body and notice, but don’t judge, any points of tension or discomfort.”
My eyes are so itchy. I wish I knew what medication to use, but when I asked the doctor last week, she told me what not to put on my eyelids, the opposite of the answer I was seeking. I’m not going back to her again. I don’t like this health plan. I wish I could have kept the doctor I’ve been seeing since 2004. I need to go back to my old health insurance. Not Anthem Blue Cross, as they are the worst, but Blue Shield, who aren’t great, but I can deal with them.
“Breathe in and out through your nose, counting each breath. One in, two out, until you reach ten. Then start again. Focus on your breath.”
One. Two. I hope this meditation is done soon. I have a blog post to write. What should I write about today? It’s Friday so the playlist is dance songs, but what about them?
“If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath and your counting.”
Oh, yeah. Three. Four. I have to go to the bank. Oh, and I need to bring the car back to the body shop. Why is there a warning light on when I start the engine? I just got the car back after being without it for six weeks. There shouldn’t be any issues. I’ll go to the body shop and then CVS. I hate CVS. Why is customer service such a challenge? Is it so hard to tell me how long I need to wait to pick up my prescription? Is it so difficult to pick up a tube and slap a sticker bearing my name on it? I don’t get it. I don’t think there’s another pharmacy I could use on this health plan. I hate this health plan. I hate CVS. I hate this doctor. I hate having to go back to the body shop. I hope this meditation relaxes me and changes this mind set. Oh, yeah. Five. Six.
“Now let your mind be free to do whatever it wants. If it wants to think, let it.”
Umm, this is ironic. Nothing is coming to mind. My head is devoid of thought. Wait. That is a thought. Thinking about not thinking about anything is still thinking. It’s a waste of thought. I should think about something more important while given this opportunity. But what? Nothing is coming to mind.
“Congratulations! You’ve completed another day in your meditation journey. Open your eyes, stretch, and contemplate how far you’ve come.”
I hate CVS.
I’m not ready to give up meditating just yet, but you know what activity clears my mind and makes me feel good? Dancing!
This week’s dance playlist kicks off with The Hues Corporation’s other hit, their follow-up to the perennial “Rock the Boat,” the all-but-forgotten “Rockin’ Soul,” from which the lyric that opens this blog post is taken. Have a great weekend!
Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook!
Follow me on Twitter: @TunesDuJour
Billboard magazine’s first disco chart was published in October of 1974. Its #1 song was “Never Can Say Goodbye” performed by Gloria Gaynor. That record stayed on top for four weeks, soon crossing over to the pop chart, where it peaked at #9.
An eighteen-plus minute medley of “Honey Bee,” “Never Can Say Goodbye” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” reached #2 on the Disco chart in early 1975, leading to Gaynor being named “Queen of the Discos” by the National Association of Discotheque Disc Jockeys in March of that year.
Six more top ten disco hits followed in 1975 and 1976, but then her fortunes dried up. Her sole entry on the Disco chart in 1977 reached only #38. Her next charted disco single was over a year later, and peaked at #24. By this point, Donna Summer was the new Queen of Disco. Summer was also crossing over onto the pop chart, while Gaynor’s sole top 40 pop single was “Never Can Say Goodbye.” She failed to crack the Hot 100 in 1976 and 1977.
Her record company, Polydor, reached out to producer Dino Fekaris and asked him to produce for Gaynor a cover of the Righteous Brothers track “Substitute,” then a recent hit overseas for a group called Clout.
Fekaris was a staff songwriter at Motown Record for almost seven years before the company let him go. Determined not to let that career setback derail him, Fekaris got together with his songwriter and production partner Freddie Perren, who also had a stint at Motown, and wrote a song about getting over the fear of the unknown and surviving what life throws at you. They wanted a woman to record the track, but didn’t have anybody in mind. They decided to give the song to the next diva they work with. That’s when Polydor called with the Gaynor gig.
As requested by her label boss, Gaynor recorded “Substitute” to be the A-side of her next single, but the song about survival, which she recorded to be the record’s B-side, really resonated with her. Besides her career troubles, she recently lost her mother and fell on stage while performing, which required her to undergo spinal surgery and spend six months in the hospital. She recorded the tracks wearing a back brace.
“Substitute” was released in the fall of 1978. It failed to make the Hot 100.
One night around that time, Studio 54 DJ Ritchie Kaczor flipped over “Substitute” and played its B-side. The patrons ignored it that first time, but Kaczor kept playing it. Eventually, it became the club’s most popular cut. Soon, all New York City clubs were playing the track.
In November 1978 Vince Aletti wrote in Record World magazine that this song “is Gaynor’s very best work in years…delivered with such relish that one can’t help but get caught up in the emotion.”
In Boston, disco radio DJ Jack King played the single’s B-side and reported that “my listeners went nuts!” Seeing the response this song was getting, Polydor reissued the single with “Substitute” as the B-side. The A-side was now the anthem “I Will Survive.”
In January 1979, “I Will Survive” returned Gloria Gaynor to #1 on the Disco chart, where she remained for three weeks. In March of that year the record hit #1 on the Hot 100, where it also stayed for three weeks. It went on to become a smash around the world.
At the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony on February 27, 1980, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” won for Best Disco Recording, the only time that award has ever been given, over Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?,” Earth Wind & Fire with The Emotions’ “Boogie Wonderland,” and then Queen of Disco Donna Summer’s Bad Girls.
“I Will Survive” kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.
Click here to like Tunes du Jour on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter: @TunesDuJour
When I was twelve years old I joined the KC & the Sunshine Band fan club. They’re the first band I remember loving. Their hits were so much fun – “Get Down Tonight,” “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Keep It Comin’ Love,” “Boogie Shoes.” Even the ballad, “Please Don’t Go,” was a good song (and their fifth #1 single). I still love all of these.
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 64th birthday of KC. Do a little dance and get down.