Saturday, May 19, 2012

Donna Summer, Freddie Mercury and Musicians.

A straight friend of mine, online, sent me a link to Freddie Mercury and Queen singing at Live Aid, said he put it on, dimmed the lights and just played it loud. At the same time, I read Bob Lefsetz latest newsletter about how "the musicians" knew how good Donna Summer was. He writes:
They're testifying online about "I Feel Love", the Donna Summer hit from 1977. So I decided to play it. And instantly realized this sounds just as modern today as it did when it was cut, that this is the sound filling the Sahara Tent at Coachella, making the little kids go wild while their parents stand still in front of stultified rock acts on the main stage.
Yup, we've got a white concert business and media marginalizing the exploding EDM scene, ignoring music that has a direct lineage to the hits of twenty five years ago.
But the musicians know.
Doing a little research, I found out that Bronski Beat covered "I Feel Love" in 1984, that everybody from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Madonna to Blue Man Group have done the song.
In other words, the musicians know.
But too much of the audience did not.
The musicians know.

So did the gays. The club scene of the late 70s is reviled these days because it was a non-stop party that got reckless, as people get, who are liberated from a life time of imprisonment.

Remember that first season of "Survivor" when the contestants got their first big meal as a reward challenge? I think it was, like, hot dogs and other crap. That night, they puked their guts out, making themselves sick. But food! They hadn't had food in ages! And drink! Beer! Cokes!

Watch people, even non-starving people, around a free food buffet. I remember working on the SS Galileo, and at the 4pm dessert fix, people would pile their plates high, as if eating a full meal. But instead of steak vegetables, it's lemon meringue pie and cookies.

That's how it felt back then, once I left east Texas. Free at last. And the buffet in front of me was irresistible.

A buffet that included music. And I remember when Donna Summer was the best singer, and most cutting edge leader of music in the world. And yes, as a musician, I generally hated disco. H.A.T.E.D. I.T.

But Donna. She could rock. But she didn't get her due. Not really. Because disco sucks, remember? Is she in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? If not, and she died not there, then what's the point of a Hall of Fame? (I just googled it: She was not inducted this year, and the Hall of Fame has issued an apology.)

As for Freddie Mercury, the truth is, as I joked to my friend, I was more interested in what Brian May was playing. Pick up a guitar in front of me and I'll fall in love with you immediately. Real Musicians (ahem) don't really care about front men. They're just there to distract the fans and look good on the magazine covers. I remember Dwight Franklin -- the late lamented guitarist from the Golden Triangle in southeast Texas -- once said to me, in class at Buna High, "What does Robert Plant do anyway? He just sings and blows the harmonica. Big deal."

Musicians are weird.

But musicians know when someone's good. And Donna was good. That's why the electronic music the kids are listening to now is all Donna based. She was the Beatles for ten minutes.

(Jim met her once out in California through friends. When he walked into her house, she was under the sink fixing something.)

Oh, but back to Freddie Mercury, musicians don't know everything. Brian May without Freddie is, well, "just" a guitar player.

Sometimes you just need a gay man in your life.


Mage said...

Musicians know and gay men know. She was really good. That was a huge sound.

Gabi Clayton said...

I had to look up EDM. Great post.

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