As a party DJ for nearly 20 years, if you want to ask me to pick one track that is guaranteed to fill any dance floor regardless of age and gender, I’m going to pick this classic disco track from 1976.
In 1976, I was 19 and disco was king. You had to be there to really understand the impact disco had on every aspect of a young person’s life. When I first heard this song I knew it would never be forgotten and sure enough, there has never been a time since those heady days of Just Musk perfume, platform shoes, afro hairdos, white flared trouser suits & Pomagne when Young Hearts Run Free has not been "en vogue."
I’ve been heard to say many a time, “Here’s a song that every girl baby is born knowing the words to” along with that other evergreen girl anthem I will survive.
People say that The Spice Girls invented Girl Power. I say it was Candi Staton.
What I didn’t know until much later when I began researching the background of some of my favourite songs is that Young Hearts Run Free was actually written about Candi’s own life.
A Los Angeles based songwriter/producer called David Crawford was working with Ms. Staton (real name Canzetta Maria Staton) at a time when she was going through a particularly hard time at home. She was in an abusive marriage to her third husband and when she arrived for work each day, her friend, Crawford would sympathetically listen to her heart-wrenching stories of a relationship she was desperate to get out of. Each incident that Candi relayed to Crawford would be noted until he felt ready to write her a song.
He told her. “I’m gonna write you a song – a song that will last forever.”
Despite the misery at home, Candi remained strong enough to keep her career on track and to raise five children. This song is Candi’s life story and one which has been an inspiration to women everywhere, ever since its release on the Warner Brothers label.
Women who have found themselves in a similar situation to Candi have found the motivation to stand up for themselves after getting to know this joyful song whilst those women who are already proud and strong enough to know their self -worth embrace the feeling of freedom that comes from singing along with the easy to remember lyrics.
Not surprisingly, when Candi Staton wrote her autobiography, she called it, Young Hearts Run Free. In it, she tells of a rollercoaster life of abuse, starting with being molested by a family member when she was just nine years old through to the joy and the immense highs in a brilliant career.
Ms. Staton had many hit singles in the US but here in the UK, she had just five top 40 hits.
- Young Hearts Run Free 1976 (#2)
- (Kept off the No. 1 spot by You to Me Are Everything The Real Thing.)
- Nights On Broadway 1977 (#6)
- Suspicious Minds 1982 (#31)
- You Got The Love 1991 (#4) (Featured artist with The Source)
- Young Hearts Run Free 1999 (#29) (New recording)
- Love on Love 1999 (#27)
Candi Staton continues to perform and record today. At the time of writing this article, she is 77.