It happened today - July 21, 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWK_Josc0Og So, let’s hear it for “Soul Makossa”. What? Never even heard it? Or of it? Shame on you. Disco lives.
Well no. Disco doesn’t live. Today it would be super-embarrassing to be in a frenzy over this song by Paris-based Cameroonian artist Emmanuel “Manu” Dibango. But the coolest of the cool in ultra-cool New York City were climbing over one another to purchase after it became the first disco record to make the Top 40 back on July 21 of 1973. And the rest is, as they say, lack of history.
I mean no respect to Dibango. But I find it striking that disco, all the rage in the 1970s, would have vanished so completely that its first big breakthrough hit, and apparently the first song of any sort to go from the club scene to the “charts” instead of the other way around, should be remembered today chiefly for being excerpted in a Michael Jackson song (“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” back in 1982 and no, I’ve never heard it either).
Music trends come and go nowadays with increasing rapidity, like trends in almost everything. Apparently I am a hopeless rube for not knowing rap from hip-hop from house (let alone garage house and UK garage and speed garage and somebody pass me a “b”). Or not knowing whether it’s no longer cool to know the difference or care. Perhaps nobody cares now. Or maybe they do. I don’t, though. I had to Google this stuff just to have no clue what I was talking about.
Sooner or later we will run out of bad ideas, of course. It’s like fashion; how many ways can you dress a woman even if you don’t care if she looks ridiculous? And maybe one day we’ll even discard the ridiculous idea that if something just arrived it’s so good that just knowing about it before other people makes you an outstanding human being, whereas if you know about and enjoy exactly the same thing a decade later you’re Exhibit A in the museum of hilariously clueless kitsch.
I never did like disco. I like classic rock, even more classic country (not, please, “new country” which I don’t think is either) and classical music I lack the sophistication to appreciate properly for which I blame myself not Bach or Beethoven. If Dark Side of the Moon was good in 1973, I say, it’s good today. And on that note I note that a paleolithic flute found in Germany’s Hohle Fels cave, carved from a vulture bone by Wolfgang Amadeus Og or some such some 400 centuries ago, plays a pentatonic scale on which it is possible to render “The Star Spangled Banner” or, fittingly, “Auld Lang Syne” with remarkable fidelity.
If someone finds one of our instruments in 40,000 years, how much do you bet they don’t try to play “Soul Makossa” on it, or “Stayin’ Alive”?