David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 241: Donna Summer (Love To Love You Baby)

April 8, 2023

This promises to be the most awkward of my song series. Maybe my first NSFW. I am praying I can avoid all the sexual puns I want to make. In the end, take notice of my restraint. I don't always have to plunge straight innuendo.

Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" was released in 1975. For those of you too young to know, "Love To Love You Baby" was Summer's breakthrough hit, simple disco guitar riff surrounded by Summer's moans, groans, and repeated "ahhhh, love to love you baby." For the radio, it was, for most guys, probably, a suitable three-and-a-half minute long ode to love-making. On the disco floor, maybe to the delight of the gals, it went on for 17 minutes, the slow disco groove pulsating, Summer's vocals seducing, rumor having that Summer experienced full pleasure over 20 times.

The details of the song are less important than its timing. In 1975, I was 13, which, if you go by James Tanner's child psychology scale, the Tanner sexual maturity ratings, puts me right at Stage 3, a pretty hormonal time. For all of us guys born in 1962, "Why us?" we might ask. Or maybe all those guys not born in 1962 might ask, "why them?"

Do some comparisons. They don't measure up in terms of awkward pubescence.

Guys born in 1956 turned 13 in 1969. Maybe "Hair" by The Cowsills makes them a little self-conscious about the hair growing all over, most especially down there. Still, outside of the boys' locker room, Hair alludes to references one can ignore and that don't inflame the already-smoldering hormones.

How about dudes born in 1959? They turn 13 in 1972. The most awkward song: Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-ling." Sure, Berry's bizarre final big hit might make a guy self-conscious, but more so in a public way, and less in terms of the raging hormones associated with said ding-a-ling.

Moving to the boys younger than me, for those born in 1965 their Tanner Stage 3 comes in 1978. Maybe Exile's "Kiss You All Over" gets the guys back-slapping each other at all-nighters, fantasizing about opportunities that may never arise. But, still, it's a song sung by men with no orgasmic recreations. Fairly tame listening.

Guys born in 1968 have 1981 music when their hormones are finally all a-rage. Maybe Sheena Easton's "Morning Train" touches the same kind of confused feelings Summer's song does. Even then, the making love references are short, and the song is really more about the things a man does for his woman, going off to work everyday. One can bury the point in social context.

However, males born in 1971 do have Sheena Easton's not-very-subtle "Sugar Walls" to confuse the hell out of them. So, maybe I have to abandon my hypothesis. Maybe this occurs just once in a decade to a very special group of young boys?

As a test, let me check out 1984-born dudes. They hit 13 in 1997. Spice Girls "Wannabe?" I wouldn't even know where to begin. That seems more like a test for all the non-love-making part of a relationship. Sure, guys are confused, but mostly about figuring out what the girl really, really wants.

The sad thing is that I recently bought The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer at SMC's library's clearance sale. The CD is a special release where in addition to the main disc with 20 of her hits, it included a second disc with 5 songs in extended play versions. Surprisingly, the longer version of "Love To Love You Baby" was not included on Disc Two. According to Wikipedia, Summer stopped playing the song at all in concert in the mid 2000s because the men in the crowd (well past their damn puberty) got over-excited including chasing her to and rocking her trailer.1 I suppose encouraging the 17-minute version for my greatest hits collection perpetuated the engorgement of male libidos at a time when Summer was realizing it was a dangerous tactic.

Even sadder is that I found on YouTube the 17-minute version to listen while writing this song and in addition to the on-going moans of contentment, the music is frankly pretty good, its variation needed when the lyrics weren't changing. In the 1970s, I was fairly anti-disco, but hearing that dance floor version reminds me that disco had an underlying beauty. While 13-year old me would have felt really awkward dancing with a lovely young lady for 17 minutes to this song at Fat Daddy's (Morgantown's preeminent disco), as an older man, the extended play of the song would have lent itself to some fantastic dancing. Honestly, dancing!

1McLean, Craig. "Donna Summer: Too Hot to Handle." The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 13 June 2008.

Summer, Donna. "Love To Love You Baby." Love To Love You Baby. Oasis, 1975. Short version here.

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