Jonathan Demme has died.

Jonathan Demme’s life is rightly noted for his versatile and diverse talents and interests, though his love of music seems to be the unifying connection between his genre films, documentaries, blockbusters, and humanitarian work. I liked much of his oeuvre, maybe not as passionately as some, but I admired his restless and generous life. And when I heard the news I thought of this, as I’m sure did many:

In Defense of Disco

Frankly, my defense of disco would last about 100 words. It was unapologetic dance music that was the soundtrack to a great public flowering of gay and interracial utopias, hedonistic, aspirational, happy, at a time when really the whole world was going to hell.

The funny thing is that it wasn’t too long before this culture, so flamboyant and energetic and just plain wonderful, was destroyed by the darkness of AIDS.

The music, which started out as dance music by Kool and the Gang and the Ohio Players and the Commodores among many others, really straight up R&B, evolved into that pulsing 128 BPM sheen, a music that sacrifices swing for relentless intensity and pistonlike movement. This wasn’t music for sitting around and contemplating, this was music for getting sweaty on the dancefloor and sweaty in the bathroom and more sweaty at home, if you know what I mean. Utilitarian music, dance music, sex music.

Alright, that’s 154 words. Here’s a link to a story by a younger guy from Macon who explains it more, if you’re interested. The story starts out at Duane Allman’s grave, which is kind of cool.

Here are a few songs I think of as liking from that time, when you would go into a club and everyone would feel like they were in the minority. Everybody felt like they were venturing out, being a little dangerous, and also connecting to a world that hadn’t ever really existed before, to people they may not have seen before. Oh, I should also mention cocaine and amyl.

I guess my point is that you can freely hate all this music, these tunes, the beats, the arrangements, the crappy clothes the singers wore, but it really isn’t fair to say Disco Sucks. That’s because Disco was so much more bigger than the music.


The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Here’s a fun one. Enter your birthday into this site and they’ll tell you what song was No. 1 the day you were born.

I doubt your song can be much cooler (or classic) than mine.

They’ll also tell you what song was No. 1 the night you were conceived, a real rock ‘n’ roll moment for sure. (I’ve posted about this song twice before, with various versions but not the giant hit that was Tennessee Ernie Ford’s.)

Lunch Break: The Seeds, “Pushin’ Too Hard,” and “I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”

Good old YouTube.

It is like looking through the old Macmillan Baseball Stat book: You look up one number, and that leads to another and another and what started out as a search for Napoleon Lajoie’s (got it that time, Steve) best year for doubles (51 in 1910) winds up comparing George Brunet’s career WHIP (1.316) with that of Jamey Wright’s (1.545, pretty crappy for a former first rounder) three hours later.

My piece on the Syndicate of Sound led to Gene posting the Music Machine, and when I finished watching that, there was a link to the Seeds on a show called Shebang, which I think I remember, but am not sure.

I can say that I kind of liked the Seeds, but I can also say this is maybe the worst lip sync ever:

But, in typical stat searching style, that led to this video of 50’s pin-up model Bettie Page dancing, I guess suggestively, to another Seeds hit, I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine.

The song is ok, and for sure Bettie was hot (dark hair, bangs, and blue eyes are deadly. If I knew she was left-handed, and wore glasses sometimes a la Dorothy Malone in The Big Sleep, I would have probably spent my life savings trying to track her down) but for the most part the whole thing is stupid, and not really provocative (was it in 1966?  I doubt it.).