Disco Apocalypse

Album: Hold Out (1980)
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Songfacts®:

  • The title to this one is misleading. It's not a disco song, and it's not bashing the genre either. The rhythm evokes disco music but lyrically it's squarely in Browne's acute storytelling style, telling the tale of a night out as he looks to capture the heart of a certain lady.

    "I think that it's an affectionate nod to disco," he told Rolling Stone. "It's meant to be friendly. I certainly wouldn't take sides on anything as stupid as either approving or condemning an entire idiom of music."
  • Browne started writing this song around 1975 but didn't release it until 1980 when the disco era was pretty much over. This isn't unusual for Browne: He'll often let his songs develop very slowly.

    It started when the title "Disco Apocalypse" popped into his head and he couldn't get it to leave. He started saying it as a kind of exclamation and gradually built a song around it. He first played it at the MUSE concerts that took place in September 1979 at Madison Square Garden. These were part of the "no nukes" movement Browne was part of along with several other popular artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, and Carly Simon.
  • "Disco Apocalypse" is the first song on Browne's sixth album, Hold Out. It's an outlier because it's far more observational than personal. The rest of the album deals with his tendency to sabotage his love life.

    The rest of the album he sequenced pretty carefully, so "Disco Apocalypse" wouldn't have worked anywhere else.
  • Browne's beloved backup singer Rosemary Butler gets a few lines in this one. She also appears on "Stay," the last track on Browne's previous album, Running On Empty.

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