Donna Summer › Once Upon a Time

Album Songs

Album Info

Once Upon a Time is the sixth album by American singer Donna Summer. It was her first double album and, like her previous few albums, was a concept album, this time telling a modern-day Cinderella-themed story through means of disco music. Summer's previous material had been distributed in different countries by different record labels, including Casablanca in the U.S. Once Upon A Time marked the first occasion where Casablanca would be responsible for distributing her work in most countries (though other labels would still be used for distribution in some nations, namely Philips in The Netherlands), as would remain the case until she would break off her contract with them in 1980.

Unlike previous albums, which had portrayed Summer as a fantasy/sexual figure both in their artwork and material, Once Upon A Time showed her in a white wedding-style dress against a plain light blue background, giving more of an image of a fairytale fantasy character rather than just a sexual one. The four sides of the double album were dubbed "Act One," "Act Two" etc, and the inner sleeve was printed in the style of a libretto. The album's gatefold sleeve opened to reveal a full-length picture of Summer in the white dress against a beautiful night sky filled with stars.

Throughout the album, the songs tell the story of a girl who goes from having nothing and leading a lonely life dreaming of what could be, to finally having the man she loves enter her life. The "rags to riches" story is brought into the modern day via the use of the electronic disco sound which is found constantly throughout the album. Although positive themes permeate "Once Upon A Time", darker thought provoking ones create an emotion filled artistic journey. This would confirm Summer's status as the leading female song writer and vocalist within the disco genre.

Building on the success of "I Feel Love" from earlier the same year, one side of this double album was devoted to pure electronica. Many fans of Summer's uber-producer, Giorgio Moroder, cite two of these tracks in particular - "Now I Need You and "Working The Midnight Shift" - as amongst his (and Summer's) greatest work. "Queen For A Day" is notable for abruptly switching from all-electronic backing to acoustic instruments halfway through the song, and such switching would become a recurring background feature in some of Moroder's later compositions.

Although it did not become Summer's best-selling album, it sold reasonably well upon its release, making the Top 30 in the US, and being certified Gold by the RIAA that same year. It is also widely acknowledged by fans and music critics as one of her best albums, due to its variety of styles musically and strong theme. It spawned the European hit single "I Love You", which became her fifth Top 10 in the UK in less than two years and hitting the Top 40 in the US. "Rumour Has It" was also a UK. Top 20. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.