The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Summer Fever Pick for November 2016:

I'm A Rainbow  (1981)

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"And all the colors that you see, are all a part of me..."

From 1975 to 1980, Donna Summer was the reigning queen of disco, having turned out hit after hit and dance classic after dance classic with her collaborators, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. But all good things must come to an end, and as the 70s faded, so did disco. And that left Donna in the position of not only wanting to show that she was capable of more, but also needing to show that if she wanted to maintain a viable career. So she closed out 1980 with a new record label and a new album (The Wanderer) that was more rock than disco.

While it remains a favorite with the fans, The Wanderer unfortunately did not live up to the success of the past couple albums, and more importantly, it did not live up to the expectations of Donna's new label. And so in 1981 when Donna and and the gang recorded the logical follow up to The Wanderer, it was not met with much enthusiasm from Geffen Records. In fact, the album was canned and all the tracks relegated to the "vault", save a few that were gradually released on other projects. 

This album, in keeping with Donna's mood at the time, was called I'm A Rainbow. It was a double album that had it been released could have shown some of the many sides of Donna Summer. It was also the last collaboration between Donna, Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, so in that sense it truly represents the end of an era.

Something like that could not stay hidden away for long, and eventually bootleg copies found their way into circulation, fueling speculation about what could have been. Then in 1993, remixed versions of two previously unreleased tracks from I'm A Rainbow surfaced on The Donna Summer Anthology. And then in 1996, fifteen years after it was recorded, the album was finally released to the general public - much to the delight of fans everywhere. So this month I invite you to rediscover I'm A Rainbow.

 

Other Art:

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Click either image for a larger version.
Donna Summer

Back cover to Donna Summer

Donna Summer

Unretouched version

There has been some speculation about the original album art. Officially the art is lost, however some fans believe that the art used on the 1982 album, Donna Summer, was originally intended to be used for I'm A Rainbow. Proponents of that theory point to the "rainbows" in the background of the Donna Summer pictures. However, working against that theory is the fact that Donna was visibly pregnant in those pictures and Rainbow was shelved in the fall of 81 when Donna would have not been pregnant. 

 

A Few Quotes:

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"... And that's why I like to make a lot of different types of songs. Because I want to reach a lot of different types of people... I'm a rainbow. We're all rainbows, you know. We're made up of - we're complex. We're made up of a lot of different colors, and to say I'm only green or only red or only yellow is wrong."

- Donna Summer, Friday Night Videos, October 19, 1984

"The record company wanted me to make different kinds of songs and records. They didn't think the old way was working. They thought my time with Giorgio had run out. The Wanderer album did very well, but when Giorgio and I went in to record the next album, they stopped us midway, because they didn't like it. They used one of the songs, 'Romeo,' on the Flashdance album, but they said the rest of the songs wouldn't make it. That's when they made me switch producers."

- Donna Summer, The Advocate, July 4, 1989

"David Geffen didn't think there was enough dance music on the record. It wasn't what he was looking for. It was like having a miscarriage. I don't go into the studio to have an album canned."

- Donna Summer, Billboard, September 3, 1994

"[David Geffen] felt that it wasn't the right thing for that moment for me. And he was willing to put his money where his mouth was."

- Donna Summer, Good Morning America, February 19, 1983

"Absolutely. I have [the tape] ... and so do a few thousand other people across America. How they got copies I'll never know. It was to be called I'm A Rainbow and, yes, it contains 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina', which is a great cut, and a lot of other things, some of which sound dated because the technology has changed so much, though some of the tracks still sound great. Will it ever be released? It is a possibility."

- Donna Summer, DMA 1989

"It's like ['Don't Cry For Me Argentina'] belongs to me now. It's almost like it's my song. I know it may sound presumptuous, but I don't mean it to. I just feel such a connection to that song. I feel like so many things have transpired in my life and my career, and I wind up back with the audience, where it all begins."

- Donna Summer, Billboard, September 3, 1994

"Actually, this portion triggered the evening's most stirring moment, as Summer dove into 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' with white-knuckled passion. Though her recorded version of the song didn't quite capture its lyrical essence, her live reading swelled with heartfelt honesty and occasional irony that reached far beyond its words. Midway through the number, Summer could barely be heard over the audience's rising cheers. The song's context of a controversial, almost messianic ruler professing loyalty to her subjects took on an undeniably autobiographical twist for the singer. As she touched the hands of fans while belting the line 'I kept my promise, don't keep your distance,' Summer's eyes spoke volumes. The audience understood and appreciated every word."

- Larry Flick, Billboard, March 16, 1998

"She followed that with 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina' which had to be the highlight of the night!! Let me just say that I've heard that song hundreds of times. Donna's done it many times, and I've heard so many other versions by other performers as well. But this time was special. As I heard the lyrics, all of a sudden it dawned on me how appropriate the words were for the occasion. After so many years of being ostracized by the gay community because of an unproven rumor, here was Donna onstage at a GMHC benefit being welcomed back with open arms. Lyrics like 'the truth is I never left you,' 'I kept my promise, don't keep your distance,' and 'I love you and hope you love me,' suddenly became so much more poignant and personal. I found it deeply moving, and I know I'm not alone in this. I've heard from grown men who said they cried when they heard the song. And the audience was so enthusiastic that at times it managed to drown Donna out. It was the most incredible thing I've ever seen at a Donna concert."

- some crazy webmistress, The Donna Summer Tribute Site concert review, March 16, 1998

The Tracks:

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Click the audio icon to hear any clip in streaming MP3 format

1. I Believe (In You) (Harold Faltermeyer/Keith Forsey)
2. True Love Survives (Pete Bellotte/Donna Summer)
3. You To Me (Pete Bellotte/Sylvester Levay)
4. Sweet Emotion (Pete Bellotte/Sylvester Levay)
5. Leave Me Alone (Harold Faltermeyer/Keith Forsey)
6. Melanie (Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer)
7. Back Where You Belong (Harold Faltermeyer/Keith Forsey)
8. People Talk (Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer)
9. To Turn The Stone (Giorgio Moroder/Pete Bellotte)
10. Brooklyn (Pete Bellotte/Sylvester Levay/Donna Summer)
11. I'm A Rainbow (Bruce Sudano)
12. Walk On (Keep On Movin') (Giorgio Moroder/Pete Bellotte)
13. Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Tim Rice)
14. A Runner With The Pack (Pete Bellotte)
15. Highway Runner (Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer)
16. Romeo (Pete Bellotte/Sylvester Levay)
17. End Of The Week (Pete Bellotte/Sylvester Levay)
18. I Need Time (Giorgio Moroder/Pete Bellotte/Donna Summer)
FULL SONG BONUS: Walk Hand In Hand
FULL SONG BONUS: People Talk original bootleg version
FULL SONG BONUS: True Love Survives original bootleg version

 

Other Stuff:

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While the I'm A Rainbow was recorded in 1981, it was not released until 1996. The version that was released is probably not what would have come out in 1981. Many of the tracks are not 100% complete. Also is is very possible that there were originally plans to create a suite out of several of the songs.
Although the Rainbow album didn't come out until 1996, some of its tracks made it onto other projects in previous years. Highway Runner came out on the soundtrack to Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and Romeo was on the soundtrack to Flashdance. Then in 1993, I'm A Rainbow and Don't Cry For Me Argentina were included on The Donna Summer Anthology. (The latter was slightly remixed and edited.)
There is a rarely seen video for Romeo, but Donna does not appear in it. Instead, it is all clips from the Flashdance movie.
Some bootleg copies of I'm A Rainbow included a song called Walk Hand In Hand. That has caused some fans to believe that it was one of the tracks slated for the album. However, other fans feel Walk Hand In Hand may be a rejected cut from the 1982 album, Donna Summer, as it sounds like a Quincy Jones production.
According to some sources, the lead off single was to have been Leave Me Alone.
The song Brooklyn is about Donna's daughter Brooklyn, and there has been speculation that Melanie is actually about Mimi. If that's the case, then that makes a career total of 2 songs for Mimi, one for Brooklyn and therapy for Amanda. (JUST KIDDING! ;-) )
In 1993, Donna appeared on A 70s Celebration: The Beat Is Back both to celebrate the music of the 70s and to promote the Anthology. In addition to a couple of hits, Donna reportedly sang Don't Cry For Me Argentina. Due to time constraints, that song was dropped from the final broadcast.
Over the years, Donna has done a couple of the Rainbow songs in her live shows. In the early-mid 80s, Romeo was part of her set. Then in the 90s she briefly included I'm A Rainbow. Don't Cry For Me Argentina was a staple of many of Donna's 90s shows - including her Carnegie Hall performance in 1998 for GMHC. That night the song was the highlight of the show - it brought many of the guys in attendance to tears.

Purchase Info:

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  I'm A Rainbow was reissued in 2014 and can be found at Amazon, Amazon UK and other retailers.

 

     

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