Wednesday, May 23, 2012

That Black Voice! That Teutonic Sound!

Those are the words David Bowie used to describe the awe he felt when he first heard Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love'. He said this to Brian Eno after he came running into the Berlin recording studio where they were working together and said "I have heard the sound of the future... this single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years."

Why do I mention this here? Not only to mourn the sad passing of the Queen of Disco last week, but to point out a little known fact. Donna Summer was a Wahlmünchnerin! Her early break out hits, including 'Love to Love You Baby' were recorded here in Munich, where she happily lived for many years. For a time she was married to an Austrian, Helmuth Sommer, so she went from 'La Donna Gaines' to 'Donna Sommer' and when she started to become famous she anglicized 'Sommer' to 'Summer'

During one of my first lonely winters as an expat here, I went through a biography phase. I read biographies of anyone; highbrow, lowbrow, didn't matter. I just wanted to see how notable people had lived their lives. One of these books was Ordinary Girl, Summers' autobiography. I was a little girl when the Disco era was in full swing and I can clearly remember admiring the purple double-spread image of Donna sitting on a 40s style radio console. It was an almost eerie finding out that not only was her birthday two days before mine and the LAST thing I expected to find in her book were references to Leopoldstrasse, Schlager Musik (which she sang for awhile) and the declaration that she felt Munich was her 'spiritual home'.

From one Wahlmünchnerin to another, may I say: Danke Donna Summer; for the music, the memories and kicking off the disco and dance music epoch from the Weltstadt mit Herz.

Image adapted from Wikipedia


mc said...

Love to Love You Baby. München. Donna Sommer. Who would have thought.. Great tidbit of a context!

ereagh said...

Thanks mc! A lot of people don't realize that, in fact on a Slate podcast the other day the music critic kept repeating about her time in Berlin. I had to go to their Facebook page and tell them, it was Munich, dammit!