RIP Donna Summer

A co-worker sent around this piece of breaking news: the Queen of Disco Donna Summer has passed away from cancer. She was 63.

Surely I wasn’t the only fan here with her music on my iPod. Among my Summer favorites? Heaven Knows, On the Radio, Last Dance and She Works Hard for the Money.

What about you? Without further ado, here’s a tribute to Summer’s Last Dance:

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About Elisa

I am a journalist and online organizer who is the co-publisher of this blog. When I am not online, I am shuttling around my two kids, an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

19 thoughts on “RIP Donna Summer

  1. How about MacArthur Park? I remember my 9 year old self sing along to that one and thinking “but what does it mean?” Amazing voice she had.

    Is it just me or does it seem like alot of famous entertainment people have died recently?

    • As the boys and I were driving home yesterday, a story came on NPR about Donna Summer. The story mentioned that a reporter in the US had counted 22 audible “orgasms” in “Love to Love You” (a UK reporter counted 23). DS1 says, “Mom, what’s an orgasm?” Not something I was in the mood to explain during my commute. Thank goodness for smart phones and Wikipedia — I told him to look it up there. Thankfully, the article seemed to be enough info for him (though I still had to explain what “euphoric sensation” meant.)

  2. Last Dance came out summer before my senior year of high school, and all the school dances my senior year used it to close out the night. I have so many fun memories associated with Donna Summer music. And 63 is way too young to die.

  3. Richard Harris was drunk? Ok, that explains a lot. But what was Donna Summer’s excuse?

    The Richard Harris version was the one I played for my boys last week. With the lyrics scrolling by, of course. Now we try to sing the chorus together, as dramatically as we can. Whoever lasts longest without cracking up wins.

    • I found this on songfacts:

      “With the famous “cake out in the rain,” this is one of the more lyrically intriguing songs ever recorded. Jimmy Webb, who wrote the song, explained in Q magazine: “It’s clearly about a love affair ending, and the person singing it is using the cake and the rain as a metaphor for that. OK, it may be far out there, and a bit incomprehensible, but I wrote the song at a time in the late 1960s when surrealistic lyrics were the order of the day.”

      The love affair Webb speaks of was with Susan Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt’s cousin. Said Webb (in the Los Angeles Times), “MacArthur Park was where we met for lunch and paddleboat rides and feeding the ducks. She worked across the street at a life insurance company. Those lyrics were all very real to me; there was nothing psychedelic about it to me. The cake, it was an available object. It was what I saw in the park at the birthday parties. But people have very strong reactions to the song. There’s been a lot of intellectual venom.”
      Are you convinced there’s more to this song than Jimmy Webb is letting on? You might be right. The staff music composer Colin McCourt used to work for the publisher of this song, Edwin. H. Morris. The head of the company was a friend of Jimmy Webb, who once explained to him the song’s meaning – cake in the rain and all. McCourt told The Daily Mail April 2, 2011: “Jim was in love with a girl who left him. Months later, he heard she was getting married – in the park. Broken-hearted, he went to the wedding and, not wanting to be seen, hid in a gardener’s shed.

      As the open-air ceremony was taking place it started to pour with rain and the rain running down the shed window made the cake look as if it was melting.”

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