From Simon V. Anderson's 1998 Pop Music USA:
Richard A. Peterson, Vanderbilt University sociologist, said that the four billion dollar disco industry was the music of a generation of young folks who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. No more Vietnam, no more Gulf oil scandals, no more Watergate, no more government greed and corruption, no more commitments. "Just leave me alone."I am good. I like my body, and I like what I am. I am a survivor, able to thrive in an anomic urban world of strangers. I can overcome alienating work and the stigma of race, sex, ethnicity. The day may belong to Them, but the night is Mine. Here I am, in control, and my fantasy is real.Research studios found that disco dancers developed an alkaline condition in their bodies after long hours on the dance floor. They got a natural high, a sense of euphoria, almost like a long distance runner gets after "crashing the wall."
Disco came to an abrupt end, however. In November of 1979, Iranian militants captured ninety Americans and held fifty-two of them hostage for 444 days. Gasoline went from forty cents a gallon to a dollar forty cents a gallon. Suddenly it was no longer fashionable to say, "Leave me alone, don't bother me with political matters."
In no time at all it was fashionable to have a commitment. To be patriotic, again. To believe in American values. And disco -- the music of a "don't bother me" crowd -- began to die out rapidly. It was replaced by strong music with traditional roots: country rock with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and the Eagles singing about values, commitment, and relationships, imperfect perhaps, but there just the same.
The whole nation took a conservative turn, politically and economically. In this new atmosphere, disco somehow seemed childish and almost irresponsible. Disco houses folded, ten every week for a year or more. Studio 54, the most glitzy of all went bankrupt, and its owners ended up in jail for income tax evasion.
As always, the popular music of the nation reflected quickly the shifting dreams and desires, values and attitudes, hopes and frustrations of the tribe.
Tags: Simon V. Anderson, Pop Music USA