24th August 2000

This is an excerpt from Brad Kloza’s “Decoding the Official Soundtrack of the Democratic National Convention.”

Occasion: Speech by Tipper Gore

Potential First Ladies choose one cause to devote their time to should
their husbands get elected. The DNC needed to select a song in synch
with Gore’s mission: understanding and caring for America’s mentally
ill. Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around” does just that.

The Estefan song has become an anthem for mental illness
understanding and caring since it appeared in “Sweating It
Out”�episode #129 of “Beverly Hills 90210,” a popular program
formerly broadcast on the Fox television network. During this episode
the characters Kelly and Valerie attend a psychology seminar. Valerie
laughs off the professor’s philosophies and decides to leave, but Kelly
takes his words to heart because of her recent experience in a fire,
where she suffered burns on her wrist, ear, and the side of her neck.
“Turn the Beat Around” was a featured song in this episode, and drove
home the fact that Kelly’s lingering fear and associated mental concerns
were assuaged, or, if you will, turned around, with the help of a
licensed psychologist.

Estefan, who is as reclusive as J.D. Salinger, author of books such as
The Catcher in the Rye, refuses to comment on the metaphors in her
song, but countless critics have persuasively argued that “beat” is code
for “mind” while “turn” translates to “cure.” It does not escape their
notice that Estefan entered the University of Miami in 1975 with the
dream of becoming a psychologist. True, she tossed this dream aside
during her freshman year, when she joined a precursor of Miami Sound
Machine, but still this can be no coincidence. And surely Estefan had
Freud on her mind when she wrote the lyrics for “Turn the Beat
Around.” To wit: “Flute player play your flute ’cause / I know that
you want to get your thing off.”

11:30 a.m.