She Works Hard for the Money
While last week’s passing of Donna Summer was particularly devastating for kids who came of age on disco floors in the 70s, we hear at BoTE were, of course, sad to hear the news, too. Sure, she ruled the decade before ours, but there was enough awesome Donna music in the 80s that we’d be remiss in not paying her a little tribute.
Long after “On the Radio” and “Last Dance” had left the charts, Donna was back in a big way in the summer of 1983 with what would turn out to be her last Top 5 hit. “She Works Hard for the Money” debuted in May of that year, the first single off her eleventh album.
The song was inspired by an encounter Summer had with a bathroom attnendant at the old Chasen’s in West Hollywood; the woman was so exhausted from working two jobs that she had fallen asleep by the time Summer walked in. The singer went home that night and pounded out the bulk of the song in less than half an hour. (80s Trivia Alert! That same woman was featured on the back cover of the She Works Hard for the Money album!)
The synth-heavy sound of the song was a big hit with kids in the 80s, particularly the freshly-minted MTV crowd–– who helped make “She Works Hard for the Money” the first video by a black woman to be placed into heavy rotation.
It stayed on the Billboard charts throughout the summer of 1983, peaking at #3 in August. And though she never had a hit that big again, Summer never stopped making great music. Her 89th and final single was released in the summer of 2010; “To Paris with Love” went all the way to the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart–– the 16th of her songs to accomplish that feat.
We’ll miss Donna Summer.
We ♥ She Works Hard for the Money.