Back in the 70s, disco music was everything for my friends and me. Every time I got together with my best gal pals the first thing we always did was play our cassette tapes (yes, cassette tapes). Whether we were at home or in a car, the music was always blasting. The lively pulsating disco dance music was our lives. We had several favorite songs, but only one was a constant motto – our adopted anthem was Gloria Gaynor's 1978 hit I Will Survive.
This song, more than any other from the 70s, became the theme song for women everywhere. The famous lyrics declare the strength within a woman to overcome the devastating heartbreak of lost love, and how she is confident that she will withstand whatever the future throws at her (without him).
The tune was about surviving a relationship break-up (or as Gwyneth would say "conscious uncoupling"), but the musical chant evolved into more. Men and women began associating the song with the difficulties in life such as losing a job, health issues, and other matters.
The tune starts with a dramatic piano intro reminiscent of a Liberace performance. A few seconds in, the vocals begin, and then the music rhythmically builds up to the brisk and inspiring chorus of "I will survive . . ." The provocative words connected with the nimble music deliver a fist-pumping message with an exclamation point at the end.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences included an Award for Best Disco Recording at the 22nd Grammy Awards ceremony, held February 27, 1980. Gaynor alongside producers Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren won the award for their song I Will Survive. The following year the Grammy Committee decided to remove the category because of a growing backlash to disco music, making this the only song to win a Disco Grammy.
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This well-known dance ditty turned out to be a musical motto for every decade since the 1970s. Several groups and soloists have recorded a cover of the song and it’s been played on a number of television shows. The song is a source of empowerment for a number of people, and it is popular in karaoke bars and at parties. It appears as though everyone can relate to the inspirational message at some point in their lives – and people just really enjoy singing along to the words.
Survival of the Fittest
Back in the day, when this song was first released, my friends and I immediately adopted it as our battle hymn. We were constantly singing the chorus and dancing to the music. In the decades since its release, the song has become a favorite workout tune. This number about survival has helped several folks stay fit and ready for anything. It is one of my personal favorites to listen to at the gym.
Not only has this hit song withstood the test of time but it has been a source of inspiration to so many folks. So much so, that the singer, Gloria Gaynor, wrote a book titled "We Will Survive," documenting numerous accounts of how the song touched the lives of so many folks and helped them get through tough times. The book, like the song, is poignant, motivating, and moving. The message of the song, and now the book, will always survive.
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