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Disco 1975

If you see Patti LaBelle today, wish her a happy birthday.

Nineteen seventy-five was a pivotal year for disco music. The genre was still very young; the name “disco” as a reference to the music genre was coined just two years earlier by journalist Vince Aletti. Disco music crossed over into the mainstream with more frequency, yet was not as ubiquitous a presence on the pop charts as it would become in the ensuing years of that decade. Artists who had their first top 40 singles in 1975 include Gloria Gaynor and KC and the Sunshine Band. In December of 1975, Donna Summer made her first appearance on the Hot 100 when “Love to Love You Baby” made its debut, having already been a smash in the clubs. The Bee Gees updated their sound in 1975 with “Jive Talkin’,” which became their first top ten single since 1971. Ben E. King, who had hits in the early 1960s as a solo artist and as the lead singer of The Drifters scored his first top ten pop hit since 1961’s “Stand By Me” with the funky “Supernatural Thing.” As the lead singer of the trio named after her, Patti LaBelle scored her first top ten hit in over a decade with “Lady Marmalade.” Veteran acts such as Frankie Valli, The Temptations, The Miracles, The Isley Brothers and Esther Phillips filled the dance floors. And it was in 1975 that the world was doing the hustle.

Today’s playlist is made up of forty disco gems from 1975.

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Throwback Thursday – 1975

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap
You gotta get out while you’re young

New Jersey does not have an official state song. There have been attempts to adopt one since at least 1939, when the state’s Board of Education held a contest to find a suitable number. They named Samuel F. Monroe’s “The New Jersey Loyalty Song” as the contest’s winner, but it was not good enough to be the official state song.

In 1972, the state legislature proposed that Joseph “Red” Mascara’s “I’m from New Jersey” be the state’s song, but Governor William Cahill vetoed the measure, stating succinctly about the song “It stinks.”

In March of 1980, radio d.j. Carol Miller started a petition to have “Born to Run,” written and recorded by New Jersey’s favorite son, Bruce Springsteen, be named the state song. Three state assemblypersons drafted a resolution declaring “Born to Run” “as the unofficial *rock* theme of our State’s youth.” I’m confused to as to how an official resolution can name an “unofficial” theme, just as the state’s senate was confused as to how a song that includes the lyrics that open this post expresses pride in where one’s from. The bid died.
The song also includes these lyrics that tickle my friend Audrey so: Someday, girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really wanna go.

Oh, that place!

By the way, I got out of New Jersey when I was 24.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights some of the best tunes from 1975, kicking off with what is unofficially New Jersey’s unofficial state song, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”


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It’s Mark Ronson’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Perhaps you’ve heard “Uptown Funk,” a #1 single earlier this year for Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Ronson struggled to nail down the guitar part on the record. He finally arrived at a lick he was happy with on his 82nd take.

The moral of this story is if at first you don’t succeed, try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try try again.

Today Mark Ronson turns forty years old. Our weekly dance party kicks off with instant classic “Uptown Funk.”


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. This week’s dance playlist kicks off with a song that, per its writer, is “about someone on the brink of self destruction who goes to these [dance] clubs to try and find more, but is at least aware of the fact that if there’s something like true love, that is something that could kind of drag them out of the abyss.” Allee Willis, who wrote the song with Jon Lind, told songfacts.com that the song was inspired by the film Looking for Mr. Goodbar. “I got kind of fascinated with people who did go to clubs every night, whose life was kind of falling apart, but they lived for the night life, though it didn’t seem to be advancing them as humans in the end.”

The song’s first verse is “Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men who need more than they get. Daylight deals a bad hand to a woman who has laid too many bets. The mirror stares you in the face and says, ‘Baby, uh-uh, it don’t work.’ You say your prayers though you don’t care; you dance and shake the hurt.”

The chorus expresses the hope that “All the love in the world can’t be gone, all the need to be loved can’t be wrong, all the records are playing and my heart keeps saying ‘Boogie Wonderland.’” Per Willis, Boogie Wonderland “was this state of mind that you entered when you were around music and when you danced, but hopefully it was an aware enough state of mind that you would want to feel as good during the day as you did at night.”

EWF + Ringo

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It’s Philip Bailey’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Gravelly-voice rapper Ja Rule told Fox Business that while Jeb Bush is a good candidate for President of the United States of America, he plans on voting for Hillary Clinton.

This surprised me, as I thought Mr. Rule was still in prison or back in prison or somewhere where he couldn’t appear on Fox Business.

I figured with Ja behind bars it would be a while before I found out who his candidate of choice for President of the United States of America is. Finding out his selection in May of 2015 is a wonderful surprise, and I’ll sleep better because of it.

This is just one more excuse to dance. Today is the 64th birthday of Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire. We kick off our weekly dance party with that band’s “Saturday Nite,” which Bailey co-wrote.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I love jury duty. It breaks up my usual routine and gives me the opportunity to meet people I probably would not meet otherwise. I’ve served on juries four times. I’m very good at it.

Three of those times were for criminal cases. One was for grand jury. In grand jury, one goes to the courthouse every day for a month and hears a little evidence from plenty of lawsuits filed, in an effort to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. We decided there was enough evidence for every single case we heard, and what doosies we were treated to! I don’t remember the details, but I recall it being a parade of nuts. Every day, one wacky witness after another, all in different cases, performed for us. A few of them were sober. To get paid to witness it was a treat.

The first criminal case I served on had to do with drug dealing and possession. The defendant was Latino. As we started our deliberations, we took a vote amongst the jurors to see which way everyone was leaning regarding the defendant’s innocence. Nine of us thought he was guilty. Three people, coincidentally the only three white heterosexual males, voted not guilty. I love that about New York! After a couple of days of deliberation we convinced those three that the defendant was guilty, even if he is Latino. We told the judge our verdict, which was relayed to the defendant’s attorney. The defendant didn’t hear it. He had already skipped town.

My next case was a drunk driving arrest. I was an alternate juror, so I sat through the trail, but initially didn’t deliberate with the other jurors. I was needed in case the regular jurors couldn’t come to a unanimous decision and one of them couldn’t come back the next day to continue the deliberations. That is what happened. I was surprised. The defendant, who wasn’t Latino, was obviously guilty. It turns out there was one holdout, but her reasoning was very different from that of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Twelve Angry Men. Per this one angry woman, the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure to a t. She said in her job as a teacher, if she did not follow proper procedure to a t, she would be disciplined. Though she agreed the defendant was driving drunk, she felt we needed to send the police department a message about following procedures to a t. My fellow jurors told me things were heated during the previous day’s deliberations, but somehow I was able to calmly explain to the one angry woman that it is not the police department who are on trial here. She changed her vote to guilty.

The last jury I served on was for a case involving a double homicide. That was a rough one; I’m too sensitive for such ordeals. The trial lasted a month, during which time we were shown many photographs of the deceased. At least my fellow jurors were a great bunch of people. Despite the intensity of the case, everyone was professional and respectful during our deliberations, which lasted for several days.

I bring up jury duty because of Wonder Woman. While serving on the drug trial, I rode the courthouse elevator with TV’s Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, whose husband was on trial in the same building for a banking scandal. Unlike the defendant in my trial, Mr. Carter, who is actually Mr. Altman, was acquitted.

In February 1980, Lynda Carter, pro-choice and LGBT rights advocate and spokesperson for irritable bowel syndrome, guest-starred on The Muppet Show, where she sang “The Rubberband Man,” a song written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed about Bell’s son, whose schoolmates mocked him for being chubby, calling him “the fat man.” “The Fat Man” was Bell’s original title for the song, about a large man who knew how to get a party going with his dance moves. It was meant to uplift young Bell, to show that his weight wasn’t something that needed to drag him down. He had talents and abilities that people admired. I don’t think that was clearly conveyed in Carter’s performance.

Three years prior to Carter’s performance of “The Rubberband Man” on The Muppet Show, Tina Turner performed it on The Brady Bunch Hour, a TV variety series featuring the original cast of the sitcom The Brady Bunch except for Eve Plumb (figures, right?) serving us hilarious comedy sketches and memorable musical moments such as this one. Turner performs the song in front of a swimming pool in which four women do a non-strenuous water ballet. Every so often, the tape of audience applause fires up for no discernible reason, other than the producers’ realization of “Holy shit! That’s Tina Turner!“

The best version of “The Rubberband Man” is the original recording, the last top forty hit for Spinners that featured Philippé Wynne on lead vocals. Wynne joined the group in 1972 and left in 1977, the year after “The Rubberband Man” peaked at #2 on the pop chart. He died from a heart attack in 1984. Today Tunes du Jour celebrates Wynne’s birthday by kicking off our weekly dance playlist with Spinners’ “The Rubberband Man.”


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It’s Friday The Fourth Of July And I Need To Dance!

On July 4, 1982, I went with my then-friend Robin to see Diana Ross in concert at Giants Stadium. I hadn’t been to the stadium before, but I figured on a typical day it was about a half hour drive from my home in New Jersey. As this was a holiday, I assumed there would be a lot of traffic, so I allowed for extra travel time. I didn’t want to be late.

We got to Giants Stadium five hours before show time. We parked right by the stadium entrance, went in, and found our seats. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we tanned as we waited for others to join us.

After a few hours other people showed up. The stadium was mostly full when the first opening act took to the stage. The band’s lead singer introduced them. “We’re Frankie Beverly and Maze for all you white people who don’t know who we are because you don’t listen to black music.” He sure knew how to charm an audience and win over new fans! I was momentarily ashamed that I spent my money to see and hear the white music of Diana Ross.

After Maze, Miles Davis performed. Would it have killed him to finish writing the songs before he came out? And hello, the audience is over here, not behind the curtain.

While Davis was playing, the couple sitting next to my then-friend Robin and me snorted cocaine. I’d never seen anyone do that before. They left after Davis finished, skipping the Diana Ross show altogether. That’s all I needed to see to keep me from ever doing coke. I don’t ever want to get to a point where I lose control over my thoughts and whereabouts and miss Miss Ross.

Finally, the main event. Diana Ross. Live. She performed all her big solo hits, except “Love Hangover,” and 30+ years later that still irks me. She did a medley of Supremes hits. She changed her clothes a few times. It was great!

doggies + James Brown 2014-07-04 10.41
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, and while I could open today’s playlist with “Love Hangover” (Why, Miss Ross, why didn’t you preform that song???), I’m going to go with a more traditional 4th of July choice, James Brown’s “Living in America,” one of the very few Brown hits that the man neither wrote nor produced. Happy holiday!

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