“Me and My Music”: The Candi Staton Song That Reminds Me Why I DJ

Cover of Chance, 1979 album by Candi Staton featuring "Me and My Music" (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
The cover of Chance

I think I’ve encountered nearly every album Candi Staton released on vinyl while sifting through L.A. record store bins these past few years. Sometimes, I’ll find multiple copies of the same album in one dig. There’s one, though, that has eluded me. It’s called Chance and it was high up on my wish list since the pandemic. I wanted this album for one reason, a song called “Me and My Music,” which became a welcome earworm back when Los Angeles’ nightclubs were closed. 

Candi Staton is best known in the U.S. for the 1976 disco jam “Young Hearts  Run Free.” People in the U.K., and househeads here, are probably also quite familiar with “You Got the Love,” an early ‘90s dance hit that was famously covered by Florence and the Machine in the late ‘00s. But, Staton has been singing since the 1950s and is still active (she played Glastonbury last year), so there’s a significant amount of her music out in the world. Some releases are harder to track down than others, which is the case with Chance. Not only did it take me far-too-long to find the actual vinyl, but, from what I’ve seen, it’s not available to download and streaming options are limited to Deezer and a few YouTube clips.

It’s times like this when I could curse myself for being too stubborn to buy what I want, when I want, on Discogs or eBay. I was nearly three years into an IRL search for a record whose obscurity baffled me. Released on Warner in 1979, Chance had some chart success in its day. Logically, this should be a relatively easy album to find. 

Logic doesn’t apply to crate digging in the real world, though. Much of what you find will be left up to, well, chance. You have to trust that the record will appear in front of you when the time is right. In this case, that was the first weekend of February, when I quickly flipped through a bin of $5 disco vinyl that We Share Records had set up inside a Little Tokyo pop-up space. The timing couldn’t have been better. 

But, let’s flashback to “Me and My Music” and the pandemic for a minute. The clubs are closed. There’s nothing better to do than spend all day and all night online watching one shitshow after the next unfold. I try to unwind by sifting through music platforms, listening to snippets of songs with the hopes of finding something that will make people dance, just in case life ever went back to normal. The weeks at home have already turned into months, though, and it feels like we’re going to be stuck at home forever. I stumble upon an edit of “Me and My Music” and the lyrics, about music being with you during both good and bad times, resonate with me. 

Eventually, life did sort of go back to normal and I mixed that edit into my club sets here and there. Still, I wanted the real thing. I had connected with this song so deeply that I needed to know how it sounded on vinyl. I wondered if there were liner notes with more information than the bits and pieces available online. And, as searching for any kind of legit info online grew more difficult, I wanted tangible proof that this music existed.

When I finally found the album, it was at the end of a week where I read the fantastic article in Vox, “Everyone’s a Sellout Now,” I spent a lot of time thinking about all of these outside factors that detract from the joy of playing music for people. 

Meanwhile, my friend, Marcus, said that I could stop by the pop-up that Tune in Tokyo was doing and play some records. So, I packed up a bag with a few records from late ‘90s/early ‘00s Japanese indie artists and a handful of new wave favorites to play for the fun of it. 

Before jumping on the decks, I took a peek into the crates We Share Records had set up inside the pop-up and found Chance. I bought the record knowing immediately that it would be part of my set, even though I didn’t bring any other disco records with me. 

Inner sleeve of Chance, 1979 album by Candi Staton with detailed credits for each song, plus lyrics. (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Lyrics and album, plus individual song credits, for Chance.

The first time I heard this copy of “Me and My Music” was when I played it for everyone else at the pop up. The sound was clean and clear, the rhythm instantly captivating. I was struck by the energy in Staton’s voice. I have no idea what the story is behind this recording, but there’s a rawness to it that I really appreciate. Listening to this in 2024, when seemingly everything is calculated to meet the demands of platforms and search engines and corporate interests, is refreshing.

I think other people enjoyed the song too. Overall, the set was well-received. People vibed to the music inside the shop and in the corridor outside the storefront. That afternoon reminded me of how amazing it is to simply be able to share music with people.

The following day, a storm rolled into Los Angeles about 20 minutes before soundcheck for Disco Matinee. Considering this city’s (somewhat justifiable) disdain for rain, this was surely a sign that no one would be coming to the little party that Jus’ B and I throw. Yet, it was not a bust and I was able to play “Me and My Music” for the handful of people willing to brave the elements for an afternoon on the dance floor.

There are liner notes on the album’s inner sleeve, which include a full lyric sheet and detailed credits for each song. Thanks to the notes, I know that “Me and My Music,” for which Staton is one of the songwriters, includes adlibs. Knowing that detail is important, considering how what struck me about it were the lyrics and how genuine the delivery of them felt. 

Overall, Chance, which was co-produced by Staton, is phenomenally funky and filled with dance floor heat from start to finish. Even the album’s slow song, “I Live,” has enough of a groove where it would work in a yacht rock/AOR type of set. There’s a good chance that “Rock,” which Staton co-wrote, will turn up in my sets soon. When I close my eyes and listen to it, I can see people getting down. Honestly, I don’t think this record is going to be leaving my crate anytime in the near future. It’s now a record that reminds me why I DJ. 

Liz O. is an L.A.-based writer and DJ. Read her recently published work and check out her upcoming gigs.