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Thursday, March 8, 2012

"State of Independence"

Donna Summer - "State of Independence" (1982)

Donna Summer was the first artist signed to Geffen records when it was founded in 1980.

Between Donna Summer's Disco Queen era, with hits like "Love to Love You Baby" and "Last Dance"; and her 80s New Wave/Dance hit "She Works Hard for the Money", there were a few albums that could almost be called experimental. 1982s Donna Summer was produced by Quincey Jones, and had elements of soul, traditional R&B, and world music."State of Independence" was a cover of a song by progressive electronica act Jon and Vangelis. Quincy Jones picked the song to be on the album, and recruited a choir of friends in the industry to sing back up. Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Loggins, Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder were among the vocal talent on the track.

The song has got a funky bass track, odd keyboard sounds, vocoder-style electronically processed vocals, chanting, a flute sound, Summer doing a weird Caribbean/African accent, and the star choir already mentioned. How does this all come together? Well, I will tell you that listening it, you will feel like you are watching the end credits of an 80s movie. Something uplifting like Iron Eagle but not as action oriented. Maybe the story of a African man who came to America, started working in the copy room, learned English, taught everyone around him how to lead a better life and take it a little easier. He would also help two young White people realize that they are in love and that they should get married despite her parents dislike of the young man. Along the way, a wacky hi-jinks situation would occur, possibly involving the young white man, his girlfriend's father, and the hero at a dance club and women that want to sleep with them all, but none of them do. At the end of the movie, our African hero would decide to go home and take the money he earned to go make his country a better place. That sounds just like an 80s movie to me. And this is the song that would play at the end of the credits.

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