Donna Summer released “This Time I Know It’s for Real” on February 24, 1989. The song was co-written and produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman, the trio behind hits for Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” Bananarama’s “Venus” and “I Heard a Rumour,” Rick Astley, and just about every hit by Kyle Minogue Kylie Minogue from 1988–1992. The single peaked at #3 on the U.K. Singles Chart, which made it Summer’s biggest hit in England since “Love’s Unkind” back in 1977. “This Time I Know It’s for Real” charted at #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold. It was Summer’s last top 10 hit in the U.S.
Summer had enjoyed great success during the disco era on Casablanca Records. By 1980, she wanted to branch out and experiment with other styles of music, while Casablanca wished for her to continue recording disco music. Summer parted ways with Casablanca and signed with Geffen Records.
Geffen Records and Summer had a stormy relationship over the next decade, with the label refusing to release her I’m a Rainbow album. After lackluster sales of her Cats Without Claws and All Systems Go albums, David Geffen suggested that Summer record with producers Stock/Aitken/Waterman, who were scoring hit after hit around the world. Upon hearing the final album, Geffen opted not to release the album and dropped Summer from the label. “This Time I Know It’s for Real” became one of the biggest hits of Summer’s career and the follow up singles did well in the U.K. and Europe. Atlantic Records eventually acquired Another Place and Time and released the album on April 24, 1989. Rumor has it that another album was planned with Stock/Aitken/Waterman, and they had even written “Happenin’ All Over Again” for her to record, but Summer had a falling out with the producers and they parted ways.
This Time I Know It’s for Real [LP Version] 3’34
This Time I Know It’s for Real [Extended Version/Extended Remix] 7’20
The music video for “This Time I Know It’s for Real” is typical of pop music in the late ‘80s: lots of jump-cuts, lots of dancers of varied ethnicities doing the running man, lots of disco spins, lots of color, and the performer singing into the camera. The video was directed by Dieter Trattmann, who also directed music videos for Icehouse, Eighth Wonder, and the Thompson Twins. The blurring motion creates a sense of movement, as Donna Summer and her dancers board a train bound from England into the heart of Europe. The video ends with Summer dancing out of the station, followed by two little girls. I one had a black vest like one of the dancers in this video; I felt very stylish when I wore it. Come to think of it, it’s still in my closet.
I first read about “This Time I Know It’s for Real” in an issue of Number One that I bought at the Bookstop that was down the street from the Target I worked at on S. Hulen St. The magazine was imported from the U.K., so it included news about songs that were released in England long before they were heard on U.S. airwaves. I was intrigued, because my older sister Vicki had turned me onto Donna Summer in 1979, and I had liked the popular singles that she had released in the ‘80s.
I guess “This Time I Know It’s for Real” was released in the U.S. in late May, because it was everywhere by June. I saw the music video on MTV at Vicki’s apartment, and eventually bought the cassette-single at Target one afternoon. I was Stock/Aitken/Waterman fan, already, so it was no surprise that I liked the song. It seemed to capture that feeling of having recently fallen in love, and since I had recently met someone special, it fit nicely on my mix tape for that summer.
That autumn, I recall making lunch in my apartment near the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), and playing the cassette for Another Place and Time, the album “This Time I Know It’s for Real” was taken from. Vicki worked nearby and was coming over to see my apartment. I also played Sioxousie and the Banshee’s Peep Show, Shakespear’s Sister’s Sacred Heart, and Adult Net’s The Honey Tangle albums, so, as you can see, my taste was pretty eclectic.
What are your memories of “This Time I Know It’s for Real” by Donna Summer?