R.I.P. Disco

It’s been a tough week for disco. Today, Robin Gibb, and last week Donna Summer.

Like everyone, I have those songs that punch me in the heart and the stomach (in a good way) and take me right back to being a kid when I hear them. “Hotel California” by the Eagles. “Band on the Run” by Paul McCartney. “Beth” by Kiss. “Keep It Comin’ Love” by KC and the Sunshine Band. The list could go on forever.

But there’s one band and one individual artist that will always make me think of my mom, too: The Bee Gees and Donna Summer. They pretty much set the soundtrack to my childhood: driving to school, my mom forcing me to vacuum and clean bathrooms (for my 25-cent-a-week allowance—which I went on strike over until my mom gave me a raise to 50 cents a week), while she was cooking dinner, pretty much everything. In 2007, after she’d long since sold all her old albums, I bought her a “best of” Bee Gees compilation CD and she was thrilled – she loved to crank it up in her Buick Century.

So today, I’m featuring a couple of songs that she loved, but also the two that best define what my mom taught me. She was a single mom for a while under very tough circumstances; she once told me the story of applying for the loan to her small house that we lived in post-divorce from my dad and basically pleading with the loan officer to give her a loan for $25,000 (houses were cheap in Kentucky in the 70s) because she had no established credit. “Stayin’ Alive” reminds me of her resourcefulness and her trying to teach me to dance like John Travolta; “She Works Hard for the Money” is something that I understand all too well now, because I do, and she did too. (**To clarify, at real jobs, not as prostitutes like the song loosely implies at times.**) And I’m grateful to her for working so hard for me, the youngest and last kid she had to support on her own. Today, I’m reaping the benefits of her hard work because I would not be taking this time in France without all that she did.

Thanks, mom. In the spirit of glass-half-full at their loss (and still yours), I hope you’re up there having a kick-ass dance party with Donna and Robin. And I sure as hell hope you’re not vacuuming or cleaning toilets like you made me do while listening.

She Works Hard for the Money

Stayin’ Alive