Donna Summer died today, at 63, of cancer.
The news makes me terribly sad. It’s not the same sort of sadness I felt when Amy Winehouse died — the sadness you feel when a very young person dies is so tinted with shock and a feeling that this is very unfair — but the sadness of nostalgia, because much of my childhood is wrapped up in Donna Summer.
My household was one that was very often full of music, and those tunes will always bring a smile to my face. Mom could be counted upon to blare, with regularity, the likes of Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow and, one of my favorites to this day, George Michael. Dad, meanwhile, has what I like to call a drag queen’s taste of music. His favorites were always Laura Brannigan, Cher and, oh yes, Donna Summer.
My favorite Donna memory was one that wildly embarrassed me at the time, but today, it makes me laugh heartily.
I was in high school, and my dad was driving me and my my high school beloved somewhere. Dad had his Donna Summer album on in the car, and “Love to Love You Baby” came on. Dad pulled over for gas and left the car running and the music playing. So he’s outside, pumping gas, and I’m riding shotgun with Rob was in the backseat.
There we sat, desperately not to catch one another’s eye in the rearview mirror as Donna orgasmed though the speakers. Dad got in the car, having finished up with the gas, toward the end of the song, when Donna really gets going.
I don’t think he noticed a thing.
Rest is peace, Ms. Summer. You made lots of people happy (if not just a touch uncomfortable).
Also, um, check out those dancers. Why is that man wearing tighty whiteys over a bodysuit? Oh, 1970s, you were a funny time in retrospect.