Music. It never stops. For reasons I don’t know, I texted my wife from work early this morning – “Let’s have some cocktails tonight and listen to disco.” I have to admit that disco is far from my first move when choosing music but it is my Friday and we like to cut loose a little after I finish a workweek. I guess I was in the mood for some Studio 54 grooves? Regardless, it was an odd thought to cross my mind.
I didn’t think about the text again until I was sitting in a Vegas showroom tonight listening to Australian Bee Gees sing “Night Fever”. As a Vegas local, free show tickets often fall in your lap and around 3pm today, that happened with the Bee Gees. Did I sense my own future with that text to the wife earlier in the day? It was a really cosmic coincidence, if nothing else.
Sitting at the show tonight, I was slightly humbled by the Bee Gees songbook. They have written an incredible amount of hit singles and I’ve grown quite fond of disco, to be honest. When Duran Duran released the single version of “My Own Way”, I understood that it was heavily influenced by disco but the music of Gloria Gaynor, Tavares, and Bee Gees was hardly on my 9 year-old radar. However, I still prefer the disco style of the “My Own Way” single compared to the lumbering version found on Rio. All it took was a few Chic albums to sell me on disco.
Speaking of Nile and Duran Duran, they are equally guilty of steering me towards David Bowie. When Duran Duran covered “Fame”, it was a b-side on one of the many 12″ singles I was buying by my favorite band from England. Then, Rodgers produced “Let’s Dance” and David Bowie was everywhere on MTV. I put a face and sound to the name under “Fame” on the Duran Duran single I owned. And life was forever altered.
When Bowie released “Blue Jean”, I was really intrigued but the late 80s were hardly Bowie’s most prolific period. It was only later when working with a songwriter named Holly Palmer in the 90s that I re-connected Bowie on a deeper level. As her webmaster in the early days of this thing called the internet, she would send me pictures and tour diary updates from her tour with David Bowie as his backing vocalist. If you listen to his ‘hours…’ album, that is her voice on “Thursday’s Child”. As her career grew, Bowie’s management team politely emailed me that they would be taking over her website and I was honored to hand it off to them.
While Holly continues to write and record music, Bowie no longer does; at least not on this planet. Friday was the anniversary of his death, and the universe piled on my sadness with the loss of Neil Peart of Rush. It was an important reminder to live every day and enjoy as much music as we can while here. On Sunday, I joined a friend on her radio show and we played two hours of David Bowie tracks and shared our favorite Bowie stories. She chose Bowie’s “Fame” as one of her tracks so I slipped in Duran’s cover of “Boys Keep Swinging”. If you fancy a listen, you can stream the show here.
Getting back to disco, I never thought about the lyrics to “My Own Way” and Studio 54 until just now. The song mentions standing on 45 between 6th and Broadway. Studio 54 was on 54th between 8th and Broadway so just a short walk from there. Was the band making a reference to the disco scene that helped inspire the Rum Runner back in Birmingham with that line? Or were they reflecting on their first visit to play NYC a few months earlier at The Ritz? All these years later, I’m still discovering new connections in the music I’ve spent a life with. And that is why this boy keeps swinging.