On The Radio – Donna Summer – 1979.

Donna Summer - On The Radio cover.On the Radio from the album Bad Girls was released by Donna Summer in 1979.

forgive me for I have sinned

Yes, it’s true, I cannot deny it.  I once bought a disco record and for that reason alone I’m willing to concede I may spend forever in some eternal disco inferno.

Although I do have an explanation.

how it happened

There is something to love in all musical genres and I appreciate every one in some way or another.  However, from the time I began to listen to music, I’ve loved soul.  Stevie Wonder was my first Motown love and I don’t think I’ve heard one since that I haven’t enjoyed to one degree or another.

So, here I am, twenty something.  My record collection contains an eclectic mix that ranges from Wilson Pickett to Deep Purple; Natalie Cole to Dr Feelgood.

I’ve sat through Saturday Night Fever and endured a million (I’ve told you a thousand times not to exaggerate) parties where the highlight is spelling YMCA in the air with our arms.  And I’ve decided I’m not sure I like disco.

But then it puts me in a dilemma.  What should I do with those artists who are sometimes classified as disco but actually have true soul?  I’m thinking of people like; Marvin Gaye, Gloria Gaynor, Barry White, and the fabulous Gladys Knight.  They are all soul singers, forced to, sometimes reluctantly, wear a disco badge simply because their songs were released in the 70s and are a little bit funky.

So, I do what anyone who loves soul would do – I embrace them, purchase their records regardless, and endure the taunts of my less enlightened musical friends.

the best song

I know that as soon as I write this I will think of a dozen songs that contradict what I’m about to say – there is one soul song, labelled (with some justification) as disco that I think is just fabulous.  So much so that in 1983 I finally succumb and go out and buy not one, but three albums.

on the radio

I first heard On The Radio in 1979 and, at first find it difficult to believe that it’s Donna Summer.  Every other song I’ve heard from her sounds like someone lying broken and bloodied in the middle of the road having just been sideswiped by a truck (although, as I understand it, that is not the impression she was aiming for).

I thought, and still do, that this song is just divinely written and sung.  It starts off with a cool slow groove and by the time it up-tempos and clicks into that disco groove it’s too late, you’re hooked.  And, like it or not – Donna Summer’s voice is magical.

Disco may be dead – but Donna was and still is superb.

What a lot of people don’t realise is that Donna (we’re on first name terms, she calls me Greg Who?) wrote the lyrics for most her songs including this one.

for the record

The three Donna albums I bought were the disco based Bad Girls, The Wanderer, and She Works Hard For The Money.  The latter two were a purposeful move away from disco as she tried (successfully) to break into the mainstream pop market.

love on the radio fax

  • Love on the Radio was released three times in 1970.  As a single, and as a track on both Bad Girls and Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2 Album.
  • It was written as part of the soundtrack to the movie Foxes.  The movie’s tag line is “The city had it coming.”  I’m not sure what that refers to.  I don’t think it’s disco music but it could well be.
  • It was Donna’s tenth Top Ten hit.
  • In 1983 Country singer Emmylou Harris released a ballad version.
  • BTW – Donna was discovered while singing backup vocals for the 70s band Three Dog Night – everyone sing along now, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…”
  • Donna has won five Grammy awards.
  • On The Radio lyrics.
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3 Responses to On The Radio – Donna Summer – 1979.

  1. wozza says:

    Yep it’s a great song, almost as good as Thelma Houston’s seminal Don’t Leave Me This Way. Nothin’ better than those AARRGG BABYs.

    I don’t agree, though, that there is something to love in all musical genres. I can’t see you finding a Death Metal song that you like (I love Opeth). I hate all forms of Opera (I’ve tried to listen to one, I really have). Gangsta Rap leaves me cold (unlike Hip Hop which doesn’t). Most, if not all, Trance and Techno and House throb has no appeal. I think that’s about it but I only needed one to disprove your statement.

    Back to DS – I have a double best of of hers and most (all?) of the post disco stuff is pretty forgettable. Still those early Moroder produced things are great.

  2. Greg.K. says:

    You may be correct in your assertion that some music has little appeal but then – for some genres it is just so wonderful when it stops!

    I guess, what I’m saying is that, even the genres I don’t personally enjoy, others do and we need to appreciate that.

    By the way, opera… I couldn’t bear to listen to a recording but, some years ago, I heard a live concert of Dame Malvina Major. It was great! I wouldn’t necessarily trade in my Crowded House tickets to see her, but there is something wonderful about live music.

    GK

  3. Piggy says:

    I believe you may actually own one more of Donna Summer’s albums – her latest one Crayons. Although you may not remember you own it because I think I borrowed it and loved it so much I accidentally never returned it. I think I have inheritated the soul-loving genes as she, along with Tina Turner and Cher (I am slightly ashamed to say) are on high rotation on my ipod – 40 years on and 20 years older than me!

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