State of Independence

Album: Donna Summer (1982)
Charted: 14 41

Songfacts®:

  • Quincy Jones assembled an all-star choir for Summer's recording, including Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, Michael Jackson, Brenda Russell, Christopher Cross, Dyan Cannon, James Ingram, Kenny Loggins and Stevie Wonder. Jones has claimed that this song laid the foundation for the group effort "We Are The World," which was written by Jackson and Richie, and produced by Jones, who called upon many more of his famous friends for help.
  • This song was originally written by Jon & Vangelis for their 1981 album Friends of Mr. Cairo. Jon Anderson, who was on hiatus as lead singer of Yes, explained the songwriting process in an interview with Notes from the Edge: "I walked into the studio in Paris and he [Vangelis] was just putting that sequence down on 24 track. And most of the music we did was first take from the backing track point of view and the shape of things and I just told him to put the microphone on and he said, 'Cool.' And he was recording and he went to the piano and I started singing. And we recorded that track totally as it was and he would follow my emotion vocally and vice versa, if he went to a minor chord I'd come back down and sing in a different mode. That's why you have the highs and lows in working with Vangelis, because it is a very spontaneous combustion idea. That we're working as a team, not knowing where we're going. A couple of days later I started doing the lyrics and I went in and sang it and by then he'd done all the arranging and it was finished after two or three sessions. It was done, there it was."
  • Jon Anderson, who wrote this song with Vangelis, told Songfacts the meaning behind the lyrics (and what the word "Oroladian" is all about) in a 2013 interview. "The concept of the song is the state of independence that we are growing into," he said. "And Oroladian was the sort of mythical person that opened the remembering gate. It's a poem by a famous English poet, The Remembering Gate. We start to remember our truth, we start to remember our reality. So each line is very, very positive. It's a worldwide collection of each line. It was the idea that it's easier to discern truth and life as a game. It's not as complicated as we make it in the West.

    The Caribbean sense of freedom derives from the meditative state. Meditation, something to do with the Caribbean, is African, very Ethiopian, essentially. The music from Ethiopia created reggae, calypso, all these kind of rhythms. Ska. It all comes from Ethiopia.

    I was really aware in my head about all that, so I was trying to do this worldwide oneness again, and that's what the song is about. "State of Independence" is all about how the truth will come."

    The poem Jon refers to is On Passing the New Menin Gate by Siegfried Sassoon.
  • The musicians on this track include many of the folks Quincy Jones used on Michael Jackson's Thriller album:

    Greg Phillinganes - synthesizers
    Ndugu Chancler - drums
    Michael Boddicker - synthesizers
    Paulinho da Costa - percussion
    Louis Johnson - bass
    Steve Porcaro - synthesizers
    David Paich - synthesizers
  • This is a highly synthesized track, making use of the latest technology, including the Linn LM-1 drum machine, which was released in 1980. Quincy Jones explained the process in an interview with Recording Engineer/Producer magazine: "From the Linn, we went through a Roland MicroComposer, and then through a pair of Roland Jupiter 8 synthesizers that we lock to. The patterns were pads in sequencer-type elements. Then we program the Minimoog to play the bass line. The programs were all linked together and driven by the Roland MicroComposer using sync codes. The program information is stored in the Linn's memory, and on the MicroComposer's cassette."
  • Donna Summer's recording was a huge hit in the Netherlands, where it was #1 for eight weeks.
  • Coldplay singer Chris Martin revealed to The Sun newspaper that this is producer Brian Eno's favorite record and that when they were recording their Viva La Vida album, he played this all the time.
  • Does this song bear resemblance to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"? Quincy Jones thinks so. In a 2018 interview with Vulture, he said: "Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs. 'State of Independence' and 'Billie Jean.' The notes don't lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come."

Comments: 4

  • Brad from Topeka, KsAfter essentially following Donna Summer's career, this is easily my favorite song of hers. I love Anderson and Vangelis' recording of their composition, but Donna Summer and Quincy Jones brought the song to an entirely different level. For some odd reason, what I found fascinating in Summer's version is the ending/fade out. Vangelis wrote this part in the middle of the song and it's a brief moment. Jones chose to end the song with this. It still blows my mind.
  • Ed from Brewster, Nymezmering(sp) song.....the rythmn, the vocal in the background. Precious.beautiful........one of my favorites
  • Jun from Manila, OtherMy absolute Donna Summer favorite. I just love the beat and the backing chorus. I also like her Unconditional Love with Musical Youth.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrI wonder if the title of this song refers to the state of Pennsylvania. Since, if I remember correctly, and I could be wrong, but wasn't Pennsylvania where the Declaration of Independence was signed?
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