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Donna Summer Dead At 63—The Interesting History of Disco Music

(Blogger’s Note–5/17/12–With the death of Donna Summer today, here is a post I first ran on the blog in 2009 about the history of Disco music. Disco music had substance. Here is an obituary of Ms. Summer from The New York Times. Ms. Summer was a star in her own right. But she was also part of a larger cultural trend. Learning about that larger trend helps one enjoy Ms. Summer’s songs all the more.)

I enjoy disco music. As I write this post, I’m listening to the disco channel on Pandora radio. I find the music good-natured.

Enough of life is angry. I’m often angry. I want something good-natured and disco music fits the bill.

I think if we all played disco music in our cars during our commutes to work that people would be nicer to each other on the road.

At this very moment the song Disco Inferno by The Trammps is playing on Pandora.

Here are some of the lyrics to Disco Inferno—

To mass fires, yes! One hundred stories high

People gettin’ loose – all gettin’ down on the roof – Do you hear?

(the folks are flaming) Folks were screamin’ – out of control
It was so entertainin’ – when the boogie started to explode
I heard somebody say

Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!

Burn baby burn! – Burn that mother down
Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!
Burn baby burn! – Burn that mother down
Burnin’!

These words seem like you are being urged to burn something down. But it is quite the opposite. The singer clearly says in the song that your soul is on fire and you are happy. This song is channeling your negative energy away from destructive acts!

A new book reviewed in the New York Times recently tells some of the history and the social meaning of disco. The book is called Disco and the Remaking of American Culture and was written by Alice Echols.

From the review-

“But for the thrill-seekers, especially gay ones, who packed the trendier nightspots, disco was the sound of hard-earned freedom. It meant dancing your heart out until dawn, often aided by drugs, in clubs where anybody could pair with anybody. Disco’s beat took over your body and pounded away your inhibitions. At its headiest, the experience was a close simulation of sex, or a direct lead-in to it. Women were the main voices of lust. In “I Feel Love,” Donna Summer’s techno-backed moaning — “Oooooh, it’s so good, it’s so good, it’s so good” — seemed like a six-minute glide on the runway to orgasm….Alice Echols, a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University and a former disco D.J., knows that most of the music she spun is considered “mindless, repetitive, formulaic and banal.” But in her engrossing new book, “Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture,” she portrays that scene as a hotbed of social change — for gays, for women and their sexual rights, for blacks in the record industry. Other writers have done more to evoke the era’s sleazy glamour and animal excitement. But Echols…has few peers among music sociologists. Scholarly but fun, “Hot Stuff” is not just about disco; it re-examines the ’70s as a decade of revolution.”

(Below—A classic.)

Here is an article on the history of disco from American Heritage magazine. It is a good article that traces the evolution of disco to Paris during WW II.

Now playing on Pandora is Upside Down by Diana Ross.

Here is a history of disco from Soul-Patrol.com.

Listen to some disco and let some happiness into your life. Learn about the history of disco and see why it was music that made a difference in people’s lives and in our society.

(Below–Why must this gentleman be a hater? Photo taken by Rich.lionheart.)

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Chad Holley Verdict By All-White Houston Jury A Source Of Concern For All Houstonians Concerned With Justice—An All-White Jury In The Most Diverse City In America?

Former Houston police officer Andrew Blomberg was found innocent by an all-white jury of any criminal role for his part in the videotaped police beating of black teen Chad Holley.

(Above–A scene from the 2010 Chad Holley beating.) 

I was not a juror in this case and I did not hear all the evidence.

I can say that it is frustrating that the jury was all-white in what is by some measures the most diverse city in America.

Given our national history, our local history here in Houston and Texas, and the fact of strong divisions of all kinds in America, it is a given that an innocent verdict in the case from an all-white jury would provoke a strong reaction.

Given the present day role of our so-called justice system as a new Jim Crow that incarcerates black men at an alarming rate, it is a given that an innocent verdict in this case from an all-white jury would provoke a strong reaction.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Republican Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos disagree with the verdict.

Some local black activists and local black ministers have reacted angrily to the verdict.

Just imagine if these leaders spoke up consistently on a broad range of issues of justice that impact all people and not just one group of people in Houston.

If they did, they would be listened to with greater respect when issues seen in a conventional and narrow sense as mostly impacting black folks were before the public.

At the same time, where are the voices of people of all kinds in voicing concerns on this matter?

If a broader cross-section of Houston white and Latino progressives and liberals would speak up with concerns about the verdict of an all-white jury in this trial, maybe this would help lay the groundwork for a more energetic and hopeful progressive coalition in our city.

The freedom of all people is connected.

Here is a link to the video of the Chad Holley beating.

Three former Houston Police officers are awaiting trial for their roles in the Chad Holley beating.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment