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Friday Genius Ten “And Roller Skates!” Edition

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So I’ve been reading Peter Shapiro’s Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco, and I was tickled to read the parts about Chic. I already knew they were the greatest disco band ever, and that songs like “Le Freak” and “Good Times” really reward listening to the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. But I didn’t know that “Le Freak” was originally called “Fuck Off, Studio 54”, and was written after they—Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards!—couldn’t get into Studio 54 to meet Grace Jones one night.

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But for me, “Good Times” really captures what Chic set out to do—they explicitly wanted to capture the mood of a lot of 30s and 40s popular music that was about dancing your cares away, with hat tips to the economic and political upheaval that compelled people to go to extremes to forget all about it on Saturday night. (Right up to explicit references to stomping at the Savoy.) In other words, as Rodgers and Edwards saw a lot of parallels between NYC in the 70s and the Great Depression, I see a lot in their music that resonates today. “Good Times” makes a lot of reference to the “let them eat cake” mentality that the country at large had towards NYC, an attitude that now defines the bank bailout and much of the discourse around health care. I listen to Rush Limbaugh’s statements, for instance, and the wry, subtle humor of lyrics like “Must put an end/To this stress and strife/I think I want to live the sporting life”—the joke is basically that you’re supposed to say, “If only it were that easy”—makes sense to me. Thus, the Genius 10 for Chic. Leave yours in comments.

Original song: “Good Times” by Chic

1) “Love Rollercoaster”—Ohio Players
2) “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)”—The Jacksons
3) “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)”—Parliment
4) “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”—Sylvester
5) “I Wanna Be Your Lover”—Prince
6) “Jungle Love”—The Time
7) “Upside Down”—Diana Ross
8) “I’m Your Boogie Man”—KC & the Sunshine Band
9) “Think (About It)”—Lyn Collins
10) “I’ll Be Around”—The Spinners

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