Weirdest pop hits, No. 2

I’m guessing most of you are already regular readers of Jason’s “Mellow Gold” series. I have roughly six readers, and they include Jason and three of his many regulars, so the math is simple.

If you’re not a regular reader of Mellow Gold, you’ll want to catch this one. Jason unearths one of those songs that makes you stop and think, “Oh yeah! That was on the radio all the time. (Pause.) What a weird song!!”

They don’t get much stranger than this one without the involvement of Manfred Mann — Starbuck’s Moonlight Feels Right.

First of all, I’d long forgotten that the band name was “Starbuck.” I wonder how many confused Battlestar Galactica fans thought Dirk Benedict had recorded a solo album. (OK, so technically, the band came first, then the show.)

Jason focuses mostly on the unsubtle pick-up aspect of it. But he, like all good musicians, has to give it up for the freaking marimba solo. I played my share of marimba in college, and this shit makes my jaw drop. I’m trying to figure out how he played all those triplets. Seriously — try to imagine where your hands would go.

But Jason isn’t the only person to recap this watershed moment in laid-back pickup lines and marimba soloing. He found a like-minded blogger who dug up the history, some taken from the presumably official Moonlight Feels Right site. Both bloggers note that the whereabouts of marimba whiz Bo Wagner (no relation) are “unknown.”

Wagner also gets tagged as a werewolf, but that seems like pretty typical ’70s music-man hair to me. I can picture Will Ferrell in a studio yelling, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but we don’t have a lot of songs that feature the marimba!”

I’m intrigued with the Moonlight Feels Right discography, listing the other recordings of Starbuck and lead singer Bruce Blackman. (He looks nothing like Starbuck, by the way. Not even the Sci-Fi Channel’s cute blonde female version.) One of the last Starbuck songs is called The Full Cleveland. Now that sounds icky.

It’s one thing for Jason and a couple of bloggers to poke gentle fun at a song that surely made Mr. Blackman a Mr. Richman. But check out the listing at, which generally offers calm and objective assessments of where each song fits in the artist’s musical growth chart. This one: “An impressionable child in the summer of 1976 might have come to the conclusion that Starbuck’s Moonlight Feels Right had been created in outer space by aliens who had been studying the conventions of mid-’70s AM radio pop but had gotten many of the details slightly but tellingly wrong.”

I don’t think any of us are saying this is a bad song. It’s catchy and … interesting. Seriously. You may laugh, but you can’t help but listen.


2 thoughts on “Weirdest pop hits, No. 2

  1. I was there, and I can recall even the flashiest guitarists and percussionists I was performing with at the time listening to that marimba solo and going, “Daaaaaaaammmmmmmnnnnnnnnn … “

    Some of them weren’t even stoned at the time.

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