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