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Arts and Entertainment

The Real Woman Behind Donna Summer's Hit "She Works Hard For The Money"

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The passing of disco legend Donna Summer is as good an excuse as any to go and revisit her many, many classic tracks and live performances. But did you know that one of her most famous songs was directly inspired by one of the singer's experiences in Los Angeles?Summer's still-grand track "She Works Hard For The Money" was reportedly inspired by a hardworking waitress at the late West Hollywood spot Chasen's (not, as many assume, by street walkers). At least according to the story (which, sure, could be apocryphal) the song "was based on a true-to-life experience. Donna Summer was in Chasens restaurant in Los Angeles. She went to the bathroom and saw the attendant taking a nap with a small TV on. Donna startled the woman from her nap, and the woman told Donna she worked 2 jobs and was really tired. Donna thought to herself, 'Wow, she really works hard for her money.' Later that night while at home thinking about her, Summer wrote the song in about 20 minutes."

In fact, Summer and her co-writer wrote the name of the attendant into the song ("Onetta there in the corner stands...") and that is apparently her standing beside Summer on the back of the album of the same name.

Meanwhile, the Brain Grant-directed video, the first by an African-American artist to get heavy rotation on MTV, remains an awesome bit of Americana. They're dancing in the street!