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Donna Summer's Once Upon a Time

Donna Summer's Once Upon a Time

33 1/3

Alex Jeffery
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Contradicting assumptions that disco albums are shallow and packed with filler, Donna Summer's double album Once Upon A Time stands out as a piece that delivers on its promise of an immaculately crafted journey from start to finish. A new interpretation of the Cinderella story, it is set in the then contemporary world of New York disco and takes the listener on a journey from urban isolation and deep despair to joy and vindication, all filtered through the mind of its naïve and fantasy-prone protagonist.


As well as charting the production of the album within the legendary Munich Machine in Germany, this book digs deep into the album's rich themes and subtexts. Approaching the book from inventive angles, the four essays within the book act as a prism connecting the reader to the classical aspirations of Eurodisco, the history of the black fairy tale and a queer knowledge that reads Summer's Cinderella tale in some surprising ways.


Alex Jeffery writes and teaches about popular music, and currently lives between London and Berlin. Alex lectures on popular music in several institutions in London, including City, University of London BIMM London and the University of Cambridge. He has also worked as associate editor at the long-running music review site MusicOMH, and runs the YouTube channel DocPopterTV, which posts audiovisual essays on his research and other audiovisual creative work.


  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (May 6, 2021)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1501355465
  • ISBN-13: 9781501355462
  • Item Weight: 4.9 ounces
  • Dimensions: 5.01 x 0.36 x 7.48 inches
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