Society Magazine

Songs of '78: "Le Freak"

Posted on the 21 September 2018 by Russellarbenfox
Songs '78: FreakConsidering how dominant disco was in 1978--as I noted way back in February, it was unavoidable that year--not a lot of disco stands out in my memories, whether real or reconstructed, of what I was listening to on the radio that year. Some of that has to do with the stations I was listening to, of course, and probably some of it had to do with the thoroughly white, partly rural, partly suburban, and entirely nerdy person that my post-pubescent self was turning into. From loud pop-rock to introspective soft-rock, I drank it in--but dance music? The Bee Gees, of course, and I suppose Barry Manilow if you squint--and if you accept David Byrne's word for it, disco was always lurking around his post-punk Talking Heads stuff as well. But generally speaking, my appreciation of everything that disco was a part of then and what it has become since--soul, funk, R&B, and more--was still some years off back in 1978.
With one exception: Chic's "Le Freak." I never owned the album this came off--looking at the track listing, I've probably never listened to the whole thing through--and it wasn't until I was an adult and started paying closer attention to the producers and session musicians on the recordings I liked that I realized what a musical genius Niles Rodgers is. So how is it that this particular disco song, released forty years ago today, made it into my head? I think, in retrospect, it has to be Bernie Edwards's bass line. I mean, just listen. Isn't just the best you've ever heard? I kind of think so.

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