Who Am I Gonna Call? Maybe Ray Parker, Jr.*

October 17, 2012

poltergeistMaybe it’s the first real autumn chill or that Halloween is a couple weeks away, but I opted to throw Poltergeist into the DVD player the other night.

It’s a good flick. It was an event during the summer of ’84 and it still holds up. The members of the aggrieved household were totally believable to me. They looked, behaved, and interacted like a family that might have lived in the subdivision where I grew up.

The father in Poltergeist, Craig T. Nelson, could have been a patriarch in our neighborhood. His celluloid spouse, JoBeth Williams, resembled a neighbor’s mom who liked to get some sun.

(nothing brought a halt to a pick-up baseball game like Mrs. Cheeseburger – as she had been dubbed – laying out in a bikini)

But there was someone else who looked familiar to me when I saw Poltergeist in the theater the summer of its release. It was one of the parapsychologists who arrive to check things out.

I kept thinking, cool, it’s Ray Parker, Jr.

(it’s not, but it’s fun to pretend it is)

It would have made sense, though. Parker was also spending that summer singing the theme from Ghostbusters, so he had insight into the paranormal.

But, he had also been all over radio two summers before with The Other Woman. The protagonist in that song proved to be quite the scoundrel. Ray might be too focused on trying to hook up with JoBeth Williams or that diminutive medium (“This house is clean”) to perform his duties as a parapsychologist.

However, he did play guitar in Stevie Wonder’s band while still in his teens as well as on the Talking Book and Innervisions albums during Stevie’s heyday. And I quite liked a number of his songs that were staples on radio during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

So, if ever a need arose to rid a home of supernatural antics, I might be inclined to call Ray – have him play a few songs and tell a few stories (he also worked with acts like The Temptations, The Spinners, Aretha, Herbie Hancock…even The Carpenters).

It might be cool.

(so long as he doesn’t play Ghostbusters or leer at Paloma)

Here are four Ray Parker Jr. songs that I still dig…

Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio- That Old Song
from A Woman Needs Love (1981)

Parker had a couple hits – Jack & Jill and You Can’t Change That – with Raydio which I really liked and was surprised I didn’t own.

That Old Song, though, is smooth, breezy and wistful.

Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio- A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)
from A Woman Needs Love (1981)

Ray gives relationship advice. Of course, considering the subject matter of some of his later hits, it might be better to let him rid your house of malevolent spirits rather than act as your relationship guru.

Ray Parker, Jr. – The Other Woman
from The Other Woman (1982)

Leaving his band Raydio behind, Ray went solo in 1982 with The Other Woman and the funky, guitar-driven title track was all over the radio that summer.

Ray Parker, Jr. – Bad Boy
from Greatest Hits (1982)

Bad Boy wasn’t one of Ray’s biggest hits and, truth be told, I didn’t pay it much mind at the time. But it has stuck with me all these years because one of my friends in high school never tired of it. If there was a jukebox and Bad Boy was on it, he’d play it.

Repeatedly.

It’s not a bad song, though – kind of a lighter follow-up to The Other Woman.

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Norman, Daryl, And A Brother Named Daryl

November 20, 2011

Though Kevin Costner has provided me with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to surviving apocalyptic scenarios involving water and lack of mail delivery in Waterworld and The Postman, respectively, he’s offered no cinematic advice for dealing with the undead.

Fortunately, Norman Reedus has become a fine role model to me for how best to navigate a zombie apocalypse through his portrayel of the crossbow-wielding, squirrel-gutting, walker-slaying, Southern redneck anti-hero Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead.

(and he’s Zen)

Norman Reedus is new to me. His lengthy list of credits contains nothing with which I am familiar, though apparently he’s pretty stellar in the vigilante flick The Boondock Saints.

This unfamiliarity with the actor makes it believable to me that Daryl truly is some mountain hillbilly, plucked from rural Georgia and put in some television show.

(if Daryl was a real person, he would summarily put an end to Chuck Norris, gut him, use his ears as a necklace, and, then, deadpan a line revealing someone quite self-aware)

But Norman Reedus is apparently a real person and, based on his Wikipedia bio, seems like a fairly interesting cat in his own right, having left home at twelve and lived in England, Spain, and Japan.

He also had a kid with Helena Christensen, who broke Chris Isaak to the mainstream with the video for Wicked Game.

If you’re hooking up with supermodels, you must have some kind of mojo.

Of course, the two apparently named their kid Mingus which, if true, is either genuinely cool or pretentitious, hipster silliness.

As for Norman, I don’t recall that name having much cachet during my lifetime, being neither plentiful nor iconic.

(I can’t think of knowing a Norman and – thanks to Three’s Company – the first one that comes to mind is Norman Fell)

I did know a Daryl as a kid, the brother of a good buddy and neighbor.

Daryl was six or seven years older and out of high school when Will and I were still in junior high. I think he worked in construction.

A tall, lanky kid, Daryl had sideburns and shoulder-length hair, and his usual attire would have gained him admittance to any biker bar (there being a few in the area).

He might not have been killing zombies – though he did hunt, on occasion, with a crossbow – but we considered him to be pretty badass.

And when Daryl screamed out of their driveway in his beat-up Camaro on Saturday night, gravel becoming tiny, lethal projectiles, he might well have ended up at some watering hole that would have been frequented by his Walking Dead namesake.

Here are four songs that might have been blaring from the eight-track player in his Camaro…

Nazareth – Hair Of The Dog
from Hair Of The Dog (1975)

One eight-track that I know resided in Daryl’s Camaro was Nazareth’s Hair Of The Dog. Every now and the, Daryl would give me and Will a ride somewhere and the language of the album’s ferocious title track made us feel like we were on the highway to hell with a true outlaw.

Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
from Agents of Fortune (1976)

There will be no cowbell joke here. The mighty Blue Öyster Cult deserves more respect than that and, to quote The Smiths (to Paloma’s delight), that joke isn’t funny anymore.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone
from Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd (1973)

Like Blue Öyster Cult, Skynyrd has been reduced to many to one tired joke. And, classic rock radio has so burned me out on the Southern rock band to the point of disinterest.

Then, I hear something like the wistful Tuesday’s Gone and make a mental note that a personal reassesment of Skynyrd might be in order.

Alice Cooper – School’s Out
from School’s Out (1972)

My all-time greatest arch-enemy might have been a third-grade teacher who, on more days than not, I was at odds. She was an Alice Cooper fan, so I’m not sure if that was why I never bothered with the music or rather because during the ’80s – my musically formative years – he wasn’t on top of his game.

But I’ve gained a greater appreciation for Cooper’s catalog in recent years and, even as a third-grader in the late ’70s, had an appreciation for the sentiments of the stomping School’s Out.


Who Am I Gonna Call? Maybe Ray Parker, Jr.

October 3, 2009

poltergeistMaybe it’s the first real autumn chill or that Halloween is weeks away, but I opted to throw Poltergeist into the DVD player the other night.

It’s a good flick. It was an event during the summer of ’84 and it still holds up. The members of the aggrieved household were totally believable to me. They looked, behaved, and interacted like a family that might have lived in the subdivision where I grew up.

The father in Poltergeist, Craig T. Nelson, could have been a patriarch in our neighborhood. His celluloid spouse, JoBeth Williams, resembled a neighbor’s mom who liked to get some sun.

(nothing brought a halt to a pick-up baseball game like Mrs. Cheeseburger – as she had been dubbed – laying out in a bikini)

But there was someone else who looked familiar to me when I saw Poltergeist in the theater the summer of its release. It was one of the parapsychologists who arrive to check things out.

I kept thinking, cool, it’s Ray Parker, Jr.

(it’s not, but it’s fun to pretend it is)

It would have made sense, though. Parker was also spending that summer singing the theme from Ghostbusters, so he had insight into the paranormal.

But, he had also been all over radio two summers before with The Other Woman. The protagonist in that song proved to be quite the scoundrel. Ray might be too focused on trying to hook up with JoBeth Williams or that diminutive medium (“This house is clean”) to perform his duties as a parapsychologist.

However, he did play guitar in Stevie Wonder’s band while still in his teens as well as on the Talking Book and Innervisions albums during Stevie’s heyday. And I quite liked a number of his songs that were staples on radio during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

So, if ever a need arose to rid a home of supernatural antics, I might be inclined to call Ray – have him play a few songs, tell a few stories (he also worked with acts like The Temptations, The Spinners, Aretha, Herbie Hancock…even The Carpenters).

It might be cool.

(so long as he doesn’t play Ghostbusters or leer at Paloma)

There are still a few Ray Parker Jr. songs that I still dig…

Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio- That Old Song
from A Woman Needs Love

Parker had a couple hits – Jack & Jill and You Can’t Change That – with Raydio which I really liked and was surprised I didn’t own. That Old Song, though, is smooth, breezy and wistful.

Ray Parker, Jr. & Raydio- A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)
from A Woman Needs Love

Ray gives relationship advice. Of course, considering the subject matter of some of his later hits, it might be better to let him rid your house of malevolent spirits rather than act as your relationship guru.

Ray Parker, Jr. – The Other Woman
from The Other Woman

Leaving his band Raydio behind, Ray went solo in 1982 with The Other Woman and the funky, guitar-driven title track was all over the radio that summer.

Ray Parker, Jr. – Bad Boy
from Greatest Hits

Bad Boy wasn’t one of Ray’s biggest hits and, truth be told, I didn’t pay it much mind at the time. But it has stuck with me all these years because one of my friends in high school never tired of it. If there was a jukebox and Bad Boy was on it, he’d play it. Repeatedly.

It’s not a bad song, though – kind of a lighter follow-up to The Other Woman.