I Feel Love: when Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer wrote the future

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Donna Summer met Giorgio Moroder in 1974 in Munich, in his studios, when the career of the future Queen of Disco was just a hypothesis. The collaboration between the two (supported by the historic right-hand man of Moroder, Pete Bellotte) led the former model to become the absolute protagonist of the disco scene, thanks to the endless series of orgasms that was Love To Love You Baby, her real take off.

Other albums followed, confirming what good was in the artistic couple, with Summer’s voice shaped and guided through the increasingly experimental sounds of Moroder’s genius: at the beginning of summer 1977, Donna Summer published I Remember Yesterday. An album that was designed as something bigger, not just the record that contained I Feel Love.

The concept of the album emphasized the musical development that Moroder wanted to reach: I Remember Yesterday (originally entitled A Dance To The Music Of Time) started from the clear 40s swing of title track and passed through through the various decades and musical styles that had characterized American pop music.

Love’s Unkind was clearly rock’n’roll, while the soul of Back In Love Again recalled the Supremes’ Motown style and Black Lady‘s funk seemed to come out of Shaft‘s soundtrack.

The other songs were Take Me (representing Disco and the recent years) and Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over), maybe the weakest track of the album, like it was there just to highlight the remarkable vocal talents of the singer.

Last track was I Feel Love, which had the mission to imagine the music of the future. Fusing techno to disco music, shattering the listener with the bassline, the synthesizer reverbs and the hypnotic pulsations, it created an incredibly fascinating beat.

The massive use of synthesizers was still not very common in 1977 and I Feel Love, from the height of its resounding success (peaking charts practically everywhere), opened the door to the use of electronic music, influencing other artists and allowing the evolution of pop and dance music in the following decades.

The criticism had to bend and recognize the importance of the song. Among those who compared Moroder’s work to Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express, and who was amazed at how Disco Music could be more that music for dancefloors, the final judgment of Brian Eno emerged: the producer entered in the Hansa Studio in Berlin, where he was busy with David Bowie to realize the Berlin Trilogy, and he had I Remember Yesterday in his hands. He stopped everything and said: “This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.”

I Feel Love overshadowed the other tracks of the album, surprising Moroder for the enormous impact, mostly because it was based entirely on the absence of the orchestra, the true trademark of Disco Music.

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Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder, 1977

The success of I Feel Love projected Disco beyond its borders: Moroder understood that music should pass mainly through synthesizers and not rely only on traditional instruments. Thanks to the magic voice of Donna Summer it was possible to realize and make this vision real, making a song that, even forty years later, still seems to have not finished its journey towards the future.

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Luca Divelti writes stories of music, cinema and TV on Rock’n’Blog and Auralcrave. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Telegram.

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