When Streisand and Summer ruled the world
I do not subscribe to any Sirius or other satellite radio stations, although Jeebus knows that I should since I live in the cultural wasteland of the South. I have a 15 minute commute to work every day, during which I randomly play with the 5 pre-programmed stations on my car radio.
I know that some people are shocked at my lack of iPod or even old-fashioned CDs, but it’s my choice. I find the randomness of public radio to be a challenge, something I sometimes win and sometimes lose in the short bursts of transportation that occur in my movement from A to B on the map of life. There is that old streak of anarchy in me, the refusal to bow down to big technology or pay monthly contract fees for entertainment. Somewhere, deep in my Gen X heart, I still dream of the days of college radio and living, breathing DJs.
Two things happened recently that I found to be interconnected and yet completely at odds with my pursuit of getting to my son’s after school daycare in time to avoid late charges. I felt the need to share these insights, not because I think that they are life-changing, but because they are banal and tinted with saccharine-memories. After all, it is the memory of what we once were that pushes and cajoles us into the person we are today.
Enough waxing eloquent – here are the facts. I needed to get some photos developed, and since all of the cool independent photo development stores in my area have closed, I was forced to go to Walmart to get this task accomplished. The 22 minute drive to Walmart weighed heavy on my soul, and I spent a moment digging through my pile of CDs to see what I could see. Amid all of the Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Patti Smith favorites I came upon a lone Donna Summer CD.
Oh! I had thought. Disco to get me through the day. Let’s do this.
I nodded my head through ‘Sunset People’, ‘Bad Girls’, ‘On the Radio’, and ‘McArthur’s Park’ until IT HAPPENED. A song that I had totally and completely forgotten about, but have always loved since I was 11 years old and this 1970’s hit first made the charts. The first notes of the song started, and it was as if a doorway opened into an old, cobwebby haunted house deep within my teenage soul. Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer and their gorgeous, eternal duet filled the dingy walls of my 2006 red Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV, and I was lost.
I’m sorry – did you just say that you have no idea what I am talking about? There was a Streisand phase – A PHASE, I SAY! – when the diva spent single after single showing off those incredible power chords. Songs featuring one, solitary, 25-second long note held in perfect pitch by La Streisand? Ppfft. Piece of McArther Park cake! And what better female to match Babs note for note was 1970’s Disco Queen extraordinaire Donna Summer! The 1979 chart-topping single “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” still makes chills run down my spine.
As I listened to the song, it wasn’t hard to remember every line, every little throat nuance from these two superstars. My drive to the superstore was fun, fun, fun… and I played the song another 2x as I made my way to the elementary school to pick up my son. These were not shorty studio songs – back then, putting out 2 and 3 versions of songs of various lengths was not uncommon.
Streisand and Summer giving their all to strengthen women and let them know that it was OK to move on, expect better. Seems quaint now, but in the 1970’s, this was groundbreaking stuff.
Fast forward to a few weeks later. Again, I’m drifting through radio stations with no real purpose except to find a morning or afternoon zoo that I can tolerate, or maybe a song I can listen to long enough to get me where I need to be.
Along the way, I stumbled upon Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason”, co-written and sung by Nate Ruess. It’s a duet – can’t deny that. But is lacks the brutal emotion of the 1979 Streisand and Summer duet. Can I dare to take this a step further? Streisand paired with the BeeGee’s Barry Gibbs for 1980’s “Guilty” duet. While Pink may be current, Streisand is forever. As I listened to the music, I tried to figure out if what I was hearing was worthy of comparison.
I want today’s alternative music to succeed. I want the new heralds of the new music nirvana to emerge. Has it happened lately? No. Pop, pop, pop.
A thousand years ago, when I was 16-years old, we used to pilgrimage from the suburbia of Naperville, IL to Chicago. We used to go to Wax Trax and fill our alternative-plastic baskets with imports and exports, then go upstairs and buy books, videos, and T-shirts. When we were under 18-years old, we danced on the tables at Medusa’s and when we were close to 18 we went to the Smart Bar and the Lounge Ax to see famous bands.
All I can say about today’s duets is ack ack ack (ala Bill the Cat). Pitbull and Christina Aguilara? Depressing. Rihanna and Mikky Ekky? You’re kidding, right?
Streisand and Summer? Eternal.
Dance on, world at large. Dance on.
Posted on July 15, 2013, in About Me and tagged 1980's duet, Barbra Streisand, Barry Gibbs and Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, D, Disco Queen, Donna Summer, duet, Enough is Enough, No More Tear, Pink, Pitbull, RiHanna, The Metro. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.