“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor

Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” features an easy-to-follow storyline. The addressee is the singer’s ex-significant other who some time ago decided to call their relationship off.  However, he has now decided that he wants her back and has returned accordingly.

But the singer is not impressed at all by this re-appearance. Indeed it can be gleaned that when he dumped her, he turned her off for good. For he apparently put her under the impression that she could not “survive” without him. In other words, the addressee must’ve been convinced that Gloria would be so devastated by losing him that she could not function properly in the aftermath – or some sentiment along those lines. And on top of that, the implication is that he didn’t treat her too well even when they were together.

And yes, the singer does admit that at first the whole ordeal did take a significant toll on her. However, in the process of overcoming her heartbreak she not only became a stronger but also entirely “new” person. So all things considered, she is totally not entertaining the idea of getting back with the addressee.

Meaning of “I Will Survive” as used in Song and Title

And that leads us to the title. The singer is letting her ex know, in her frustration, that she will be quite okay without him. Or stated differently, ‘she will survive’ despite the two of them not being together. And with that being noted, she promptly instructs him to “walk out the door” and never to return.

Gloria’s Signature Tune!

This is the signature song from Gloria Gaynor’s, a singer whose heyday was during the 1970s, career. In fact it is one of the greatest hits ever to come out of the short-lived disco genre. For instance, it’s among the rare songs to score a number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart (in addition to doing so in Canada and Ireland). The track has also been certified platinum in the US, UK and Canada. In addition to that it made it onto the music charts of more than a dozen regions and sold in excess of 14,000,000 copies globally.

In fact “I Will Survive” was deemed so significant in and of itself that the US Library of Congress actually inducted it in their National Recording Registry in 2016.

Additionally during the first 60+ years of Grammy history only once, in 1980, has an award been given out in the category of Best Disco Recording. And as you may have guessed, it is this song which holds that distinction.

Moreover this track earned a place on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time list.  And it has been ranked in a similar or an even higher regard by the likes of  the following:

  • Billboard
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • VH1 
  • Rolling Stone

Cover Versions of “I Will Survive”

The tune has also proven effective enough to be covered by a number of other artists to notable chart success. This includes the likes of Aretha Franklin and the also-legendary Diana Ross, who released her own rendition in 1995.  This version charted internationally, including performing quite well on the UK Singles Chart.

And fans of 1990s’ hip-hop may also recognize this classic as the track the Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man’s interpolated into his 1994 single “Release Yo’ Delf”.

Other Notable Appearances

“I Will Survive” has also retained a very-strong pop media presence in the decades since its release. Owing to this, it has empowered Gloria Gaynor to stay in the spotlight throughout all this time. For instance, she dropped it on a 1999 episode of the popular American sitcom That ‘70s Show. The year prior, the French National Theme used this as their anthem during the FIFA World Cup. 

In 2017 Gloria Gaynor did a commercial with NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley featuring this song. Then the tune went viral in 2020 when it was included on a self-directed PSA featured on TikTok in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. And in 1997 Gloria Gaynor even came out with an autobiography entitled “I Will Survive: The Book”.  In fact during a 2019 interview, the songstress even went on to call this song “the core of (her) purpose”. Also, it is known to be universally popular, having been recorded in 20 different languages.

It has also been noted that this track has proven to be particularly well-received by the gay community, even being adopted by LGBT activists and sympathizers as an anthem.  In fact Gloria Gaynor had already been popular amongst gay partygoers prior to the release of “I Will Survive”.

When was “I Will Survive” released?

The label that was behind the initial release of this track is Polydor Records. This classic officially went public on 23 October 1978. It is from Gloria’s “Love Tracks” album.

This song also has a music video, even though they weren’t called so back then. It was in fact filmed in a disco, that being the since-defunct Xenon nightclub in NYC. Also it featured another fad, roller-skating, which has also more or less died out since the 1970s.

Did Gloria Gaynor write “I Will Survive”?

No. The song was written by a pair of musicians and regular collaborators named Freddie Perren (1943-2004) and Dino Fekaris. Freddie was a Motown vet who helped create a number of hits, including for the likes of the Jackson 5. Meanwhile, “I Will Survive” is the only hit Dino Fekaris, who also produced the tune, could boast of writing-wise.

According to Dino Fekaris, he is the one who originated the tune. And he did so, as the song suggests, initially sparked by despair. He had just gotten fired from his staff writing job at Motown after a seven-year tenure. And while faced with prospect of being unemployed for an indeterminate amount of time, he unexpectedly heard a song he had co-written (Rare Earth’s 1969 track, Generation) being played on the TV. This caused him to rejoice and exclaim, amongst other things, “I will survive!” And according to the writer, that’s the genesis moment in which this track came into being.

Meanwhile Gloria Gaynor went through her own ordeal in terms of “I Will Survive”. For she recorded this song while simultaneously recovering from a serious back injury. But concerning her relationship status, the track came out right around the time she got married to Linwood Simon, the man she would remain wed to for over 25 years.

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