The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Summer Fever Pick for February 2017:

She Works Hard For The Money  (1983)

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There is nothing in so-called women's music... that approaches the impact of this video... 

And the song itself is nothing to sneeze at either.  ;-) She Works Hard For The Money is an anthem for women everywhere - and at the same time it's a fun dance song that always gets the crowd to their feet at concerts. I've always thought it would be great if I could pipe that song into my workplace and play it in a continuous loop on the days that my boss does employee evaluations.  ;-) I always wanted Donna to write us a sequel called Now Gimme A Raise! LOL

But seriously, She Works Hard For The Money is a great song with a great message - and that means it usually overshadows everything else on the album. That's unfortunate because many other tracks are standouts in their own ways. I Do Believe (I Fell In Love) is an amazing ballad that has been a personal favorite of mine ever since it came out. It takes the Summer formula of starting out slow and then bringing in the beat to a new level. This one stays slow and then waits until the very end to pick up the pace. Then there is He's A Rebel - an inspirational rock & roll number that Rolling Stone said could have just as easily been about James Dean instead of Jesus Christ. I remember when it was nominated for a Grammy for Best Inspirational song I was surprised. The song did not fit any of my preconceived notions of what an inspirational song was. It wasn't until I really paid attention to the lyrics that I finally got it. And we can't forget about Stop Look & Listen. It describes some of  "life's vivid realities" and manages to remain upbeat and funky at the same time. I could go on, but you get the idea.

She Works Hard For The Money is in my opinion one of Donna's best albums from the 80s. Like all of Donna's best albums, it manages to have enough musical diversity to appeal to just about everyone without sacrificing any of its cohesiveness in the process. It is a very spiritual album, obviously coming from Donna's heart, and yet it's also a fun album too. You can dance to it. So this month I invite you to Stop Look & Listen to the magic of She Works Hard For The Money.

Front

Back

 

Inside

 

Other Art:

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Tour book pictures, click any image for a larger version.
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Video screen captures - click for a larger image

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Donna in She Works Hard For The Money Bruce in She Works Hard For The Money
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Donna in Unconditional Love A picture of the Hotel Rosslyn and a screenshot from She Works Hard For The Money

 

Video

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A Few Quotes:

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On She Works Hard For The Money being released on Mercury:

"That came out of a lawsuit between Casablanca and myself when I left the label. At the time, I was owed large sums of money (by Casablanca) and the only way to get it was to sue. At about the same time Polygram had just purchased Casablanca, and unbeknownst to them, bought into this lawsuit as well. It wasn't their fault, and they were upset that I wasn't going to be on the label anymore. As part of the settlement, we agreed to give Polygram one more album."

– Donna Summer Dance Music Report,  c 1990

"To everyone's surprise [the album] became a big hit. The song became an anthem for many working-class people, and the single shot up the charts. Because no one had anticipated its success, it threw everyone at both labels into a king-sized tizzy! Polygram was upset because I was back on top and they had let me out of my contract. That meant whatever follow-up was to he had, it wasn't going to be for them. They had a Top Ten lame duck on their hands.

"But Geffen Records was also upset because I had a hit with my old label. They felt I should have saved that material for them, especially after it went on to become one of the biggest albums I'd had in a long time."

- Donna Summer, Ordinary Girl (Villard 2003)

"As a result of [working with] Chris*, I got a call from her. She loved Sailing. She said, 'I've got to have you produce this record.' It was a very fun album to make. It was real spontaneous and She Works Hard For The Money was the last song written."

 – Michael Omartian, Billboard September 3, 1994

*Christopher Cross

"Michael [Omartian] was a godsend. He was like Giorgio [Moroder] – mild-tempered, incredibly creative. I mean the guy could play his bazookas off… He does whatever he does to perfection." 

– Donna Summer, Billboard September 3,  1994

That’s how the LP unrolls; sultry rock one minute, AOR pop the next, and Summer overpowering all the way through.

- K.W. Record World, 1983

"Stop Look & Listen combines a lilting catch-phrase melody with a sizzling salsa rhythm; He's A Rebel melds the defiant sentiments of the old Crystals hit with swirling, chiaroscuro textures more suggestive of new wave bands like the Motels. Backed by Jamaican sensations Musical Youth, Unconditional Love is a charming paean to the healing powers of the spirit, while the LP's title track, with its rolling pop-disco beat, lets you know Donna hasn't completely abandoned her considerably more profane roots.

Yet for all its variety,  She Works Hard sounds every bit as cohesive as, say, Michael Jackson's Thriller, a tribute to Summer's elastic vocal range and the strength of her latest compositions."

- Mark Rowland, Playgirl November 1983 

"The title song by Donna and producer Michael Omartian was inspired by washroom attendant Onetta Johnson, whom Summer encountered at Chasen's restaurant in Los Angeles. It is infectious, and Donna simmers down nicely for a romantic duet with Matthew Ward, Love Has a Mind of Its  Own."

- People Weekly, August 15, 1983

"The title song, She Works Hard For The Money, was based partly on my ongoing fascination with the working woman. I saw it as a follow-up to Bad Girls that also offered some insight as to how I was feeling about the whole music industry."

- Donna Summer, Ordinary Girl (Villard, 2003)

"Like [Diana] Ross, Summer is able to be all things to all people, and the success of this album’s title track on both the R&B and pop charts attests to her accomplishments. That more than five minutes long number is everything a pop song should be. Written by Summer and producer/keyboardist Michael Omartian, it has a 100-megaton strong beat, a hook more infectious than beri-beri, goosed by Gary Herbig’s sax break and more synthesizer programming time than is used by many small countries for their software.

- K.W. Record World, 1983

BONUS AUDIO CLIP: Donna talking about the inspiration for She Works Hard For The Money on You Write The Songs in 1986.
BONUS AUDIO CLIP: Onetta and Donna telling the Hard For The Money story. This clips comes from the movie Off The Menu: The Last Days Of Chasens (1997). The women were filmed separately and then the footage was cut together - the first person you hear will be Onetta.
BONUS AUDIO CLIP: Donna promoting She Works Hard For The Money on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1983.
"The most obvious hit here is the title track, a driving Giorgio Moroder-style riff that was eclipsed this summer only by Moroder's own Flashdance...What a Feeling."

- Michael Hill, Rolling Stone, September 29, 1983

Donna Summer's She Works Hard For The Money video is exceptional, a notable contrast to the film school outtakes that currently clog the airwaves. The song itself is  pleasant dance music, nothing more, but the video vividly portrays the daily lives of a waitress and sweatshop worker, both on the job and single-handedly raising their kids at home. There is nothing in so-called women's music, from Helen Reddy's  I Am Woman to the antimale drivel of the Olivia Records axis that approaches the impact of this video.

- Rock & Roll Confidential, 1983

"Summer is at her best when she keeps us guessing. He's a Rebel, with its West Side Story sense of drama, could be about James Dean, not Jesus Christ; the arrangement of Stop, Look & Listen is jauntily upbeat, despite the fact that Summer is actually trying to rewrite Sounds of Silence (with lines like 'The prophets of the times are written on streetcar walls')."

- Michael Hill, Rolling Stone, September 29, 1983

Unconditional Love, backed by Musical Youth, is a rhythmically powerful piece of pseudo-reggae that’s at least as strong as songs done in that style by Grace Jones, while Love Has A Mind Of It’s Own a brooding, romantic duet with Matthew Ward, is a sort of a Summer response to the Ross-Lionel Richie duet of Endless Love. Guitarist Marty Walsh and the horn section are featured prominently on Woman, a sledgehammer rocker, while Ray Parker Jr.'s rhythm guitar and presence gives that tune the same lilt that he brings to his own sessions.

- K.W. Record World, 1983

"But Unconditional Love could be a sleeper--it's a collaboration with Musical Youth that's so utterly charming you scarcely wonder what Summer is doing preaching about Jah."

- Michael Hill, Rolling Stone, September 29, 1983

The Tracks:

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

1. She Works Hard For The Money (D. Summer/ M. Omartian)
2. Stop, Look And Listen (D. Summer/ M. Omartian/ G. Phillinganes)
3. He's A Rebel (D. Summer/ M. Omartian/ J. Graydon)
4. Woman (D. Summer/ B. Sudano/ M. Omartian/ J. Graydon)
5. Unconditional Love (D. Summer/ M. Omartian) *performed with Musical Youth
6. Love Has A Mind Of It's Own (D. Summer/ B. Sudano/ M. Omartian) *performed with Matthew Ward
7. Tokyo (D. Summer/ B. Sudano/ M. Omartian)
8. People People (D. Summer/ B. Sudano/ M. Omartian)
9. I Do Believe (I Fell In Love) (D. Summer)
BONUS CLIP: Donna appeared in another song with Musical Youth. The song was Incommunicado (B. Sudano/ C. McKee/ G. Grody) from the 1983 Musical Youth album, Different Style. Listen closely - that's Donna singing "hello hello."

Other Stuff:

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The woman on the back of the album cover with Donna is Onetta - the washroom attendant who inspired the title song.
She Works Hard For The Money was used in a popular McDonald's ad campaign back in 1999. Donna sang the song with new lyrics ("You get more for the money"), and it was used in numerous TV and radio ads. There were several versions of the jingle with different mixes to suit the different commercials. Here is an audio clip from one of the original ads.
In 1997, Donna made her second appearance on the sitcom Family Matters as Aunt Oona in an episode called Pound Foolish. Those of you who have seen the show know that Donna's storyline centered around Oona's weight gain, so Donna spent most of the episode wearing a hilarious fat suit. At the very end of the show, one of the characters turned on a radio and She Works Hard For The Money started playing. So as the credits rolled, you had Donna in that fat suit, boogying to her own song, and really working that fat suit. Funny stuff! The sitcom is in syndication here in the USA, so try to catch a rerun if you can.
Videos were made for both the title song and Unconditional Love. Both can be found on the video compilation, Endless Summer.
In the "blink and you'll miss it" category, Bruce makes an appearance in the She Works Hard For The Money video as a customer in the diner. Shortly after you hear Donna sing the line "Nine AM on the hour hand...", the waitress comes out of the kitchen and is pinched by a customer at the counter. (See "other art" above.) That's Bruce. All I can say is it takes a brave man to pinch another woman in his wife's video.  LOL
According to VH1's Pop-Up Videos, when they filmed the last scenes of She Works Hard For The Money (the ones with all the dancers in the street), it rained hard enough to where the director thought they wouldn't be able to finish shooting. He went to go tell Donna that and found her on her knees praying. After that, the sun came out. That got me to thinking...... hey Donna, next time you find yourself chatting with the Big Guy (probably at a heavenly meet and greet), could you mention  that a few winning lottery numbers dumped into my lap wouldn't go unappreciated.  ;-)   (It's worth a shot, right?  LOL)
The video for She Works Hard For The Money was filmed over 2 days in downtown Los Angeles. A few (admittedly crazy) fans have watched the video endlessly for clues as to exactly where it was filmed, and the consensus is that it was filmed on South Main Street between 5th and 6th Streets. I did a little research of my own, and found a picture of the Hotel Rosslyn (located on 5th and Main)  that shows a red sign on the side of the building near the top that says "hotel" and "TV" (and if you can read the rest you have better eyes than I do!  LOL). If you watch the video closely, you will see that very same sign on the upper left side of your TV screen. It's easiest to see at the very beginning of the street scene. (See the "other art" above.)
She Works Hard For The Money was selected by the RIAA and the National Endowment For The Arts as one of 365 songs to be used in a Songs Of The Century school program.
She Works Hard For The Money was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female, and He's A Rebel picked up the award for Best Inspirational Performance. It was her second nomination in that category and her first win.
She Works Hard For The Money peaked at #3 on Billboard's Pop Chart and at #1 on Billboard's R&B chart. The album was certified gold in August of 1983.
Hard For The Money was also the title of one of Donna's better-known paintings. (It is included on the Art Gallery page.) 

Purchase Info:

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She Works Hard For The Money can be found used at  Amazon, Amazon UK, among other places The Endless Summer video seems to be out of print but you can find used copies at  Amazon.com, gemm.com, musicstack.com or even eBay. (There was a Brazilian DVD release of the compilation that can be found at Brazilian vendors and eBay.) There is a 20th Century Masters DVD that includes both videos from She Works Hard For The Money - it can be found at AmazonAmazon UK and other on and offline vendors.

Thanks to Anthony for all his articles and to Phil for letting me pick his brain.

     

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