Are you ready to take another imaginary desert island trip? Ready or not, here we go. Continuing to explore my streaming music library in an alphabetical fashion, the next letter is “e”. My pick is a group I can’t believe I had not covered in a dedicated post after more than six years of writing this blog: Earth, Wind & Fire – unlike Eagles, Steve Earle and Melissa Etheridge, to name some others I could have selected.
I seem to vaguely remember that it was my dear brother-in-law who first introduced me to Earth, Wind & Fire. And my song choice Fantasy was either the very first tune or was among the first tracks I heard by the group. I loved Fantasy from the get-go both because of the great vocals, especially Phillip Bailey, and the funky yet smooth groove, and I still do.
Fantasy was co-written by Earth, Wind & Fire founder and leader Maurice White and founding member, bassist and his half-brother Verdine White, along with Argentinian composer and pianist Eddie del Barrio. The tune was included on Earth, Wind & Fire’s eighth studio album All ‘n All from November 1977. It also appeared separately as the record’s second single in January 1978.
While I would consider Fantasy to be one of the group’s best-known songs, I was surprised to see this catchy tune only reached no. 32 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100; it did better on the R&B chart where it climbed to no. 12. Fantasy did best in The Netherlands and Sweden where it got to no. 7 and no. 8, respectively.
Here are some additional insights from Songfacts: Earth, Wind & Fire made a smooth transition into the disco era, adapting their R&B sound to the new groove. “Fantasy,” written by group members Maurice and Verdine White along with the keyboard player/composer Eddie del Barrio, fit right in at Studio 54, but also had a deeper meaning, which was typical of Maurice White’s productions: he would put a message on top of an infectious beat. [While Fantasy is a great dance tune, it’s not disco, in my view – CMM]
Talking about the message in this song, Maurice told Melody Maker: “The song ‘Fantasy’ is motivated about escapism in the sense of living on a world that is untrue, a world that is unjust, a world that is very selfish and envious, there is a place that everyone can escape to which is their own fantasy. I had to write the song in the sense of sharing this place with people. It’s an escape mechanism.”
“Fantasy” is a showcase for EWF singer Phillip Bailey, who could handle the very high vocal range. The day he recorded his vocal, he got elbowed in the mouth playing basketball, so he did it that night with a loose tooth and busted lip.
Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; YouTube