03 July 2009

Dance Party in Aisle 5

A few days ago I was in the Whole Foods in Woburn, picking up coffee (you really should try the organic Mexican beans) and a few other things. The store's sound system was playing a fun mix of classic disco songs, like "Get Up and Boogie" (Silver Convention), "I Want Your Love" (Chic), "Boogie Nights" (Heatwave), "Let It Whip" (Dazz Band), even the instrumental "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, and others I can't recall now. (I had to look up some of those artists, but being of a certain age, I remembered some of them.)

I grew up listening to these songs, because they were all over Top 40 radio in the 70s. The Mrs. is a bit too young to remember most of them. I don't know if this music comes from a compilation, a satellite music service, or if the store actually employs a DJ (not too likely), but I'd like to tip my digital hat to Whole Foods for not subjecting us to the "light rock" or "adult contemporary" that you're more likely to hear in a store. Someone is thinking about the shopping experience. (On a previous visit to the Medford store, they were rocking the 80's alternative: The Cure, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Thompson Twins.)

While we're on the subject, let's take a moment to acknowledge the place of disco in music history. Disco was certainly derided and even reviled back in the day, and I'm not sure it's really ever gotten its due, but I'm not embarrassed to say that as a teenager I was a big fan (at least until I saw Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live and realized there was a whole other universe of music awaiting my discovery). In addition to Top 40 radio, I grew up listening to a lot of my dad's Motown, Sly & the Family Stone, Wilson Pickett, and other soul and R&B acts, so it isn't that surprising that I gravitated toward disco.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of disco music was lyrically slight (as was, to be fair, plenty of other 70s music), but what I think people tend to forget is that many of the groups were formed around studio musicians and backup bands for solo singers. people who had years of solid playing and performing experience. Chic is an excellent example, as is KC and the Sunshine Band. "Get Down Tonight" is kind of silly, but if you listen to the instruments--the bass, the horns, the electric piano--it kicks ass.

The disco performers just wanted to make music that would make people dance and have fun. I'm going to head to iTunes to look over some disco compilations.

1 comment:

Can I Have a Word? said...

Wow, that's pretty brave. I don't know of many men who admit to liking the stuff. Yay SAR. I was a disco kid until I think it was the B-52s that gave me that transition. But even that had to go underground during the transition to freshmen year, where I was threatened with being beaten senseless unless I switched my loyalties to Led Zeppelin. Luckily, that also reawakened my love of Beatles and Stones. Ah, freshmen year.