Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A flood of memories

Disco sucks
Oh dear, almost a week since an entry?! Okay, I have excuses:
  1. I was sick for one day this week.
  2. I’m still behind on my online course lectures and have been scrambling to catch up.
  3. I’ve got something in the works that will be cool and fun, and I’ve been preoccupied with that.
  4. Umm...Sheeba ate my blog entry.
Three of those are true.

As I was watching my course videos today, one of the History of Rock videos made me laugh out loud and took me right back to the late ‘70s when I was in high school. It was about the rise of disco, and the visceral reaction that so many rock fans had to it. I was one of those rock fans, and so was was our friend Steve.

We HATED disco. I still remember Shane and Steve taking a copy of "Saturday Night Fever" outside and flinging the LPs like frisbees up onto the garage roof. The prof talked about the big anti-disco rally at Comiskey Park in which a Chicago DJ blew up a bunch of disco albums in the middle of the field, and that resulted in the Chicago riot police being called out to control the crowd. You can’t make this shit up. Since we grew up so close to Chicago, we got WGN (this was pre-cable and satellite, remember!), and it was a big deal around here even before it was picked up by the national news. I remember it all very well!

He talked about the possible reasons for why us rock people hated disco:
  1. Reaction against promiscuity. They don't talk about sex, drugs, and rock and roll for nothin'. Sex is kind of a huge part of rock and roll, in my opinion, so we wouldn't reject disco because of that. Besides, you know...horny teenagers!
  2. Homophobia. Again, no. Most of us hearing disco on the radio had no idea that it had its roots in gay culture. And I've never been homophobic, even when I'd never really thought about that much. None of my business, anyway!
  3. Racism. Nope. Although I was accused a while back by a black friend of possibly being racist because I didn't like disco. She had said other such things in the past, and that was the last straw. That's still a joke between me and Shane...if I ever say anything even remotely anti-disco (I disputed Donna Summer's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for example), Shane says, "You racist!" The Ohio Players rocked, and their funky music was cool. I loved the Spinners and the Supremes and Stevie Wonder, and racism had nothing to do with my dislike of disco!
  4. Lack of musicianship and seriousness; mass-production. THAT'S the one! Having grown up on rock music on FM radio, hearing this drum machine bullshit on AM radio was just putrid to me. I liked guitarists and singers and drummers and songwriters who really poured their heart into performing and writing. Disco just seemed like cookie-cutter pop crap to me, with no real substance behind it. But I've always been a sucker for good lyrics and good musicians. Disco was the antithesis to "good music" to me. It wasn’t "real music."
I was writing to someone about this today, and I said that I've mellowed since then, and I even like a lot of current electronic dance music, but it still strikes me as having a harder edge than disco did. It was such a weird time, with progressive rock, mainstream pop, disco, and punk all converging. I still remember the Dark Days when "You Light Up My Life" (sappy mainstream pop rather than disco) was #1 for how many fucking weeks? I'd listen to Casey Kasem every week, and he'd get to #1 and say, "And for the leventy-leventh week in a row, it's Debby Boone at the top with..." and I'd go "UGH!" and turn off the radio. Haha!

The allegations against some about the dislike of promiscuity, possible homophobia, and possible racism may be true, but that was never the case with me and Shane, or any of the rest of my circle who hated disco. It was just a matter of loving music, and musicians, and their talent for writing songs and playing their music. We didn’t see a whole lot of that in disco, and that was why we were the ones proclaiming, "Disco sucks!"

Hey, two lists in this entry. The listmaker in me is happy.

Rock on, Citizens!


  1. I mute the television when Debby Boone sings that dreadful song in her commercial...ugh, that was horrible.

    I laughed out loud, literally, at the fact the riot police had to come to the anti disco rally!!! You are right, you can't make that up.

  2. I was in middle school when disco hit big. I can't say that I was ever a fan of disco, but there are some songs that were labeled disco that I liked then and even now. I did, for example, like the BeeGees, but I liked their songs that weren't that disco-esque, to me, anyway. I did not like Saturday Night Fever and never understood its appeal, but there are some songs from that time period that will trigger a good memory of where I was or what I was doing or who I was with when I first heard it, and for those reasons I will listen to them when I hear them on the oldies station. (Loved Casey Kasem and listened to him EVERY week!)

  3. I don't know if it was the association with liberalness and the homosexual lifestyle that made disco such a hot button issue... I really think that it was how brazenly it challenged the status quo... I liked the drama around the "disco sucks" movement but I definitely remember liking the music as a kid... in fact, "Funkytown" remains on my person "hot 100"..!


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?