My heart still races and my endorphins rise whenever I hear this song….what a feeling!
Who didn’t want to live forever?
If you were young, creative, ambitious, and living in New York City the center of the universe when this song exploded in 1980 it was your anthem: “I’m going to make it to heaven. Light up the sky like a flame!
Irene Cara who passed away much too young at 63 not only lit up the sky, she delivered a resounding soundtrack for a generation. And for those in the arts like myself, she represented making it.
“Take your passion” she urged us in Flashdance, “and make it happen.”
Her enthusiasm was infectious. I would make it happen.
To a 20-year-old art student like myself, those were just the words I needed to hear and ones my youthful idealism could believe. Fame, the iconic movie about a group of talented young hopefuls in New York in the late 1970s at the High School of Performing Arts trying to launch their careers in the cutthroat performing arts world, spoke to every struggling artist in the city.
Cara’s vocals were combustible, creating sonic energy and an irresistible compulsion to dance that will not die. It defined an era in Manhattan that is close to my heart. Listening to her sing this song in this clip, shot in the city’s theatre district in 1982 transports me back to that time, and to that place.
Baby, Remember My Name
In the spring of 1980 when the movie and its title song hit the airways, the city was bustling with creativity, but also slowly emerging from its recent near bankruptcy, upscale restaurants just blocks away from rubble-filled graffiti-painted lots.
In these years New York City was dirty, dangerous derelict, dazzling, and the only place to be. It took a starring role in the dramas that unfolded in my life.
I Feel It Coming Together
Money was secondary to being able to have this playground to create day or night.
A city that never sleeps was perfect for a twenty-something who didn’t seem to need sleep either. The nighttime was a diverse world of drag queens and punk kids, artists and musicians, performers and writers. A never-ending night of clubbing that only began at midnight, continued at 2:30am to head to an after-hours club.
The frenetic energy fueled by ambition that defined the city allowed us to believe that we would live forever, even as a strange virus yet to be called AIDS lurked in the shadows.
To be an artist in your early 20s, in the early 80s in New York City, who didn’t want to live forever? All of life loomed ahead. The possibilities seemed endless as the music that drove us, and fame was the siren that seduced us all.
Thank you, Irene Cara we will remember your name!