Why, hello there, Mellow Miners! My, you’re looking fine today! I’m in a romantic mood. Maybe it’s because it’s Valentine’s Day, or maybe it’s because I’m giddy over making it to Mellow Gold post #20, but I’m in the mood for love. Barry White-type love: looooooove. Awwwww, yeahhhhh.
Oh, wait! I know why I’m in this mood! It’s because of our Mellow song, recommended by David, Scraps, and some guy named “Ugly A” from the comments of our very first Mellow Gold post. So let’s get right to it. Actually, no, let’s not: first, I’ll need you to prepare. Please, readers, get out your shag carpet, your lava lamp, your doorway beads, your incense, and your favorite bong. You know the one: it’s shaped like Michael McDonald’s head and plays “Minute By Minute” every time you take a hit. We’ll need all these things to appropriately tackle this smooth gem.
Starbuck – Moonlight Feels Right (download)
I repeat: Awwwww, yeahhhhh.
What makes “Moonlight Feels Right” a smooth, sexy, Mellow gem? I think a more appropriate question is: what doesn’t? But first, of course, I give you a brief history of the studs of Starbuck.
There you are, folks: Burt Reynolds and the Wolfman. Please note that I don’t believe either of them are wearing shirts underneath their jackets.
Actually, that’s Bruce Blackman, vocalist, keyboardist and producer, on the left, and Bo Wagner, marimba genius, on the right. And they’re here to get into your pants.
Wagner and Blackman were members of a number of different groups and musical projects before forming Starbuck. Wagner, if you can believe it, was once a musical director for Liberace. (I’m just going to let that one settle in.) The group went through enough personnel changes that my head is spinning. Let’s just leave it at this: a NYC record company, Private Stock Records, signed the group in 1975 and released “Moonlight Feels Right,” which went virtually unplayed until a DJ in Alabama picked up on it in 1976. (It seems we hear these DJ hero stories frequently around here, don’t we?) “Moonlight” was a smash, eventually peaking at #3 during the last week of July 1976.
Starbuck made a few other appearances in the Top 100, but personally, I don’t consider any of them hits. Maybe “Everybody Be Dancin’,” which hit #38, but it’s clear that it’s this one song for which Starbuck will always be remembered. And that’s clearly okay with Blackman, as he named the official Starbuck website MoonlightFeelsRight.com, which is where I attained most of this information. I like that the site doesn’t officially say it’s owned by Blackman, but come on. Only he could have written some of these detailed explanations in the footnotes of the discography.
My favorite part of the site, though, is the bio, which goes through the soap opera of member changes, and finishes with the “where are they now?” section (bold emphasis mine):
Today Blackman serves as CEO of his own music publishing and production companies. He is producing an album project on his daughter Sarah along with writing and producing for several other artists. He is affiliated with Sony/ATV and is busy working on several movie soundtrack projects. Wagner’s whereabouts are unknown. The other members of Starbuck continue to perform at various venues in the Atlanta area.
Here’s my theory: Wagner has since eaten the former members of Starbuck and currently is living in the Ozarks, living off the land and talking with bears.
But now, it’s time to analyze the song itself, which was responsible for 20% of all venereal diseases contracted in 1976. Lay back and relax as Starbuck takes you on a Mellow journey…to the skies!
First, the music. You guys remember Alan O’Day’s “allll riiiight” from “Undercover Angel?” Yeah. The entire song is sung in that voice. And the very first thing we hear in the entire song? A “wah” sound from the guitar. Then, lots of synths. I guarantee you that the guys in Starbuck already had their slacks down around their ankles by this point.
The rest of the verses feature light synth and marimba (more on the marimba in a second), leading up to the chorus: synthmania! And guess what? The “wah” is back! I don’t know (as in “I don’t care”) who played guitar on this one, but can you imagine being at the session? “No, Tony, all we need is like three notes, total. No, just three. And your Wah-wah pedal. You did bring your Wah-wah pedal, right? No? Jesus. You know it’s 1976, right? You’re fired.”
After verse two, we’re treated to an extended instrumental interlude: 24 bars’ worth, with 16 going to Wolfman’s marimba. Yes! Now this is what we needed: a marimba solo! Actually, I’ll be completely honest with you: this marimba solo kicks some major ass. I’m giving props to Blackman for allowing Wagner to go to town. I don’t know if there was a video for “Moonlight Feels Right,” but if there had been, it would have featured Wagner doing a tap-dance on a huge marimba. It would have been really bad green-screen, too. After “Moonlight Feels Right,” I imagine marimba players were either really excited to finally lose their virginity, or thought, “damn, now I have to get a haircut.”
The solo that follows the marimba is all synth, but is also impressive. In fact, I dare say it’s Stevie Wonder-esque. It kind of reminds me of the instrumental section at the end of “Summer Soft.” Then, we’re back into the verses, surrounded by – you guessed it – swirling synth and marimba. I’ll give this song credit for not trying to overextend itself: Blackman knows his way around those synthesizers, and if his only intention was to write a song slick n’ smooth enough to get him and Wolfie McWolfenstein some poontang…mission accomplished.
Let’s talk lyrics. And these lyrics, while intending to convey seduction, really only convey one thing: stohhhhned.
The wind blew some luck in my direction
I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French connection
you winked and gave me your o.k.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
and drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion
the moon’ll send you on your way
Dude. Give me your keys. “Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion?” What does that even mean? You don’t know, do you, Bruce? And the truth of the matter is: it’s okay. Because you definitely got laid as a result. Point: Blackman.
The lyrics get better. No, worse. No, better. Oh shit, I can’t decide.
We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
and watch the moon smiling bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
’cause southern belles are hell at night
Forgive me – I don’t expect you to understand this, but for some reason, those last two lines remind of this brilliant couplet from “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta:”
But real gangsta-ass niggas don’t flex nuts
Cuz real gangsta-ass niggas know they got em
Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. Don’t spend any time trying to figure out how I tied Starbuck to the Geto Boys. Instead, spend your time explaining to me that whole “southern stations” bit. I’m beginning to wonder if this song was actually written during sex.
you say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss
a class of ’74 gold ring (note: that’s pronounced “seven-four.” Smooth.)
the eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss
to make the tide rise again
Okay. Point one: what’s with all the geography in this song? Chesapeake Bay? Baltimore? Ole Miss? Who cares? Was it just to get a rhyme with “kiss?” And speaking of the above-mentioned kiss, point two: ewwwww. Seriously? Ewww. “The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss?” Was it ‘ludes, Bruce? I’m thinking ‘ludes. You’re sick, dude, if you want to tongue-kiss the freakin’ moon.
That’s pretty much it for the lyrics, friends, other than the line “You guys, I am so high right now,” which was wisely edited out. But there’s one thing I’ve not mentioned as of yet. It’s at the end of every verse: “hahahaha.” It’s a creepy Bruce Blackman cackle. And it’s the only thing in the song that makes me wonder: maybe this guy wasn’t as cool as we think. Maybe he’s not singing this song to a girl. Maybe he’s sitting on a beach by himself, singing it to his faithful German Shepherd as they share a pint of Rocky Road. Actually, I have a scenario that’s much more likely: he did get the girl, and all was cool until Sunday morning, when his mom knocked on his door announcing that his laundry was ready to be put away.
While listening to “Moonlight Feels Right,” a picture of the singer came into my head. Except it wasn’t Blackman. I could see it vividly, but couldn’t place my finger on who it was. Then, finally, I figured it out.
Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because he’s a healthy blend of studly and sketchy. I can just completely picture him singing this song and totally getting boatloads of nookie (boatloads!) afterwards. I guess we should all be so lucky.
Note: after finishing this entry, I found a blog post on “Moonlight Feels Right” that clearly was written by my long-lost cousin or something. It’s hysterical, and I encourage you to read it. I’m mentioning this because if you ever came across it on your own, you’d swear I plagiarized this whole Mellow Gold Adventure. I promise you, I didn’t – and sadly, his post makes me feel like I’m the least original person on the planet: he even bolded the same part of the Starbuck biography in his writing. And here I thought I was going to go without a hetero Mellow valentine this year!
Well, my mellow friends, I hope that today’s song has put you in the mood for lovin’. Or in the mood for putting away your laundry. Either way, happy Valentine’s Day and we’ll see you next week for another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!