“You Make Me Feel” (Sylvester, 1978)

by Jamie

I’m finally getting a chance to knock out my response- which is good since I’ve done nothing but think about it for the last 3 days…

Firstly, the stress of having meaningful contributions to this list has been REAL!  Given the fact that my knowledge of dance music consists mostly of, “I know what I like”, this list could be closer to the greatest electronic dance songs of all time and some of JLPs faves.  At times like these, I think back to a piece of advice Dean Nicolls once gave me.  “If you wanna improve, just get in the pool with guys that are way, way better than you are.  You’ll get crushed, but you’ll also get better.” So- yeah.  just take it easy on me.

Second, my kids might be more into this email chain.  I read them your email and Lizzy asked if I’ve saved all these emails from over the years and then her and Tory started riffing:

  • Lizzy:  You could publish a book about them when you’re older
  • Tory:  Yeah- it would be so quaint that you guys were writing emails to each other.
  • Lizzy:  “Konrad and Jamie:  an epistolary relationship”
  • Me: Wait.  What?  How come Konrad’s name is first?
  • Tory:  C’mon dad, of course his name goes first?
  • Me: Why?Tory: (eyeroll)
  • Me: (looking at lizzy)
  • Lizzy:  (nodding knowingly)

I still have no idea.  but I guess my kids see you as a headliner and me as supporting cast.  whatEVs.

Third, throwback to another classic chain, I’ve included the backyard BBQ playlist in case you need it for a summer cookout.  This was started in april of 2016.  finished in June.  The impetus was a quote from then president Obama…..(half an hour of sobbing…..ok, I’m back) recommending “Rock Steady” as the opening track on DJing a party. 

Fourth, the genre.  yes- very complex.  There are songs that you can dance to, and made that way purposely, but don’t have that as a primary target.  “Thriller” and other MJ classics are primary examples.  But then, what to do with disco- an entire genre which has dancing as its primary target?  Keeping, the list as Best Electronic Dance songs wipes most of those out, but that feels harsh.  Without disco, there is no club dance music.  Is there any set played today that doesn’t use at least one bassline from the 70s?  In a quasi-related informational note, its interesting to note how so many of the disco era songs come in at over 5 minutes with a 45-60 second dance break in the middle.  Clearly designated for club playing.  To wit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F9N-6ITFnA.  Rod Stewart with the song that may have created the I hate disco movement.  Often mocked- but I stand by it.  this is a jam. And its just in the last year that I noticed the dance break is the part where they are banging.  (How I missed it, for 47 years, I’ll never know.  The sexy sax always denotes banging! duh.) Anyway- I’ll limit it to one, but just be prepared for one choice that prob doesn’t meet the criteria.  If it happens, you’ll understand though.

Fifth- the list.  How do we build the list?  While it would make sense to build it chronologically, I suggest we take a page out of the backyard BBQ playbook. Consider this a playlist.  This is the set that starts at about midnight in the club.  Its starting to get crowded.  Substances are ingested or starting to be and the dancing part of the night is about to get serious. What does the next 90 to 120 minutes look like?  How does one song flow to the next?  Look at the backyard bbq list again….there is some solid work there.  Lets see if we can do it again!

Sixth (as I said- I’ve been thinking about this alot.  had a lot to get off my chest!), the pick.

While I said the list shouldn’t necessarily be in chronological order, it feels right to put this after “I feel love” since it directly steps off that as a link between disco and EDM.  News to me that there is actually a genre that defines this link:  “High-NRG”.  From the wikipedia page:  Hi-NRG was totally reliant on technology and was all about “unfeasibly athletic dancing, bionic sex, and superhuman stamina”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi-NRG

“Superhuman stamina”?  Oh, so, yeah…ecstacy!

Sylvester was known as a High NRG act and this song is easily his most popular and considered a disco classic. its got all the hallmarks of a great dance track- driving bassline, funky overlay, “four on the floor” syncopation, has the electronics that put it “in category” for this list and is a nice flow from the slower beat of “I feel love”, picking up the tempo for the dance floor. The fact that this came out in 1978 from an out, crossdressing black man is crazy to me.  watch this clip from AB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz9CPABNMWo  

Pick it up at 4:00 for the Dick Clark interview.  It makes me cringe to listen as Dick Clark presses sylvester about why he moved to San Fransisco.  but maybe this was a way for him to acknowledge that he was “in on it”…this open secret about the fact all this dance music that was so popular was rooted in gay culture?  crazy stuff.  Sylvester is also known as an early gay rights advocate especially around HIV/AIDs which he eventually died of.  the history of dance music and its development might be as interesting as building the list itself!

BAM!

  • Respectfully submitted – Jamie

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