I Will Survive…
(…by mercenarying my wordsmithery to school girls for their oral projects.)
*a recent clandestine assignment for a friend of a friend’s boss’ daughter who needed some words for a class speech on the emotional impact of music…or some such…the brief suggested I use Madonna’s Material Girl, I suggested they take a flying lesson… and wrote this instead:
Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive is, undoubtedly, one of pop music’s greatest recordings.
Simply, with an ageless musical motif of stylish funky rhythms and dramatic symphonic melodies, I Will Survive is also one of music’s catchiest songs.
The fact that the song was recorded during one of modern music’s most vapid and disposable eras: late-1970s disco years; yet sounding as fresh and sophisticated today as it did then, makes the song a true timeless classic.
Unfairly, I Will Survive has come to define the rather forgettable disco genre for many, but with the song’s often overlooked underlying lyrical elements – some of most emotional and compellingly honest ever sung – it rightly deserves closer assessment, and, crucially, a continued appreciation.
(name deleted for some or other reason) calls I Will Survive her “ten tubs of ice cream, fifteen romantic comedies and 25 sessions with my shrink all wrapped into one beautiful 3 minute slice of disco healing. I dance, I cry, I laugh, I call my mother and then listen to it all over again.”
“At first I was afraid, I was petrified,” goes the song’s iconic opening line, and while the song literally tells the story of lost love, of a relationship ending less than blissfully, and of a woman poised delicately in the destructive midst of mistrust and betrayal, the lyrics’ greater meaning, along with the song’s soaring anthemic chorus, can be just as easily read as a rallying call to self-reliance, self-resilience and self-affirmation in even the most chaotic of circumstances.
The song, seeped with a strong revolutionary lexicon and vivid poetic imagery, is also one of the earliest pop culture prototypes for the feminist praise song, an indelibly affecting journey of discovery in an almost Damascusian tradition.
I Will Survive’s manifesto stands proudly alongside other great empowerment declarations such as Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Madonna’s Like A Prayer, Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights and Adele’s Rolling In The Deep.
As one of the most provocative, most honest and most emotional pop music artefacts of the 20th century, I Will Survive’s message of perseverance in the face of adversity, and the uncompromised independence of the modern woman make it a song far ahead of its time, more relevant today than it ever was during the heady days of its disco origin.