Like New Coke, this post may not go over well, but discovering this newfangled thing called YouTube has allowed me to see the singers of the songs I had only heard and never seen. I have determined that in the pre-MTV era, one could secure a recording contract based solely on one’s musical skills and a face made for radio.
Prior to viewing this performance on Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special (which I honestly had never heard of until today), I figured the band Exile was composed of manly men. Surely fronted by a manly man, anyway. Indeedy do, I was wrong.
First off, let me say that I INSISTED this song be played at my wedding. And not a wedding in the 70s or 80s or even the 90s. My wedding was in this millennium. The Buck Rogers one. Oh, wait, not that. And my request to the DJ was not made ironically; both my betrothed and I honest-to-God like the song. And so did a few hundred thousand others; it reached Billboard’s Top 40 in August 1978 and remained on the chart for seventeen weeks.
The performance starts out well enough; a normal-looking guy on lead guitar, rocking to the rhythm of the sexy intro. Soon there is a sea of keyboards. Too many keyboards. It’s like a Casio convention. I’m confused. And then suddenly Satin Jacket is at the mike, singing, “I want to be your fantasy” but can’t quite stay in key.
Fortunately, the lead guitarist takes over vocal duties, and Satin Jacket whips his mane about like a seizuring Taylor Swift in a blue jumpsuit. Something is not right. Lead singer Jimmy Stokley’s face is worn, puffy, dry and unfresh. If a man can be rode hard and put up wet, that’s what happened. Was it drugs or alcohol? He just doesn’t seem as lucid and alert as the others. He seems to be operating in some level of delusion wherein he is instead the Aerosmith frontman. It can never be so. The high harmony at the bridge is something to behold. Neither keyboardist nor drummer nor bass player get any face time from the cameraman. I think it would have been beneficial to balance it out. As the song ends, Stokley does a disturbing deep-knee bend in his jumpsuit, and shows the world all his kibbles and bits. I’m sorry you had to see that. Then he jumps high into the air like a rock star, indicative of the era.
Exile, however, was destined for country success, and Stokley left the band the following year (in effect, going into exile). He died at the age of only 41. Such a shame. But each time the radio spins “Kiss You All Over,” his vocals continue to live on.
If visiting Key Largo is on your bucket list, go fetch that Sharpie pen and cross it off, because watching this video is just. Like. Being. There. You will have no need of travel; this video will transport you, not only with Bertie Higgins’ smooth soft rock stylings, but with its scrumtrulescent fashion choices (a white blazer a solid TWO YEARS before Don Johnson would affect the style on Miami Vice), rich, dark locks like a swarthier Kenny Rogers (with a dash of Grizzly Adams), and a gold necklace that so intrigues me.
It takes a certain kind of man to wear a gold parrot necklace, and Bertie is that man.
Look at him, propped against a pole, his lion’s mane blowing in the breeze, his face to the sun like he is a jungle king. He takes a drag and exhales his alpha male breath while his lapel laps against his sun-damaged brown skin. Suddenly, he turns and looks seductively at me. ME! (Swoon). I am weak in the knees. He is whispering to me. Is that a pineapple on his shirt? The way he says “watching” blows my mind. It’s like the lyrics are the breeze, soft and sultry upon my grateful ears. How can that lamp pole against which he is leaning possibly support all that rugged manliness? It must be made of steel.
Just prior to the the minute mark, we witness Higgins in profile, as the sun dances on the rippling sea. Glistening. Then he reaches out to his daughter, a cardigan casually draped about her shoulders like she stepped right out of The Official Preppy Handbook, and she flashes her Aquafresh smile.
What the freak? Suddenly I realize this is not his daughter. This is not my beautiful house! This is his love interest. This big-banged thing, barely past adolescence? She’s the Bacall to his Bogie? Are you kidding me? And then it hits me.
Lauren Bacall was only 19 when she met Humphrey Bogart, 25 disgusting years her senior. Now it all makes sense. They are just like Bogie and Bacall. The truthiness of the song overwhelms me.
Bertie and Courtney Cox’s little sister (let’s call her Ainsley) jaunt up a hill, as he holds steadfastly to his jacket at his shoulder like a mack daddy. Uh-oh. Slow down. There is no chemistry here. How awkwardly they embrace. Like he’s her uncle. And then I see–it wasn’t pineapples on his blouse. It was never pineapples. It’s starfish or poinsettias or some Hawaiian flower that’s not indigenous to my native land, but whatever–I feel deceived. Manipulated. Betrayed.
Soon, they are on a boat together, gazing into each other’s eyes, assessing each other’s caterpillar Brooke Shields’ eyebrows, and giggling. He’s not so bad after all, she thinks. He has a boat. Preppies love boats. He’s wearing another non-pineapple Hawaiian shirt, this time in navy. First it was the innocence of white, but now it’s navy, a harbinger of the thunderstorm brewing not so far away. Can this love last?
In the meantime, I’m spellbound by the background vocals. I wonder who this vocalist is and where she is now? Does she get royalty checks? Then I wonder where Tony is, who he could be with, what he’s thinking, is he thinking of me, and will he ever return one day? Sorry, I got off track.
At 1:49, suddenly they are traveling down a palm tree-lined boulevard, presumably in a convertible. But where is the driver? Are they on a float in a parade? Are they in Key Largo or Santa Monica? Bertie does his “shrug and cock the head to the side” move to emote his romantical feelings, and she looks away like she doesn’t exactly understand English, like an Italian exchange student, silently cursing herself for not buying Rosetta Stone, or like she just saw an ugly dress in the window of Macy’s and has to turn away before she vomits. She is as unable to smile as the lady in the new Latuda bipolar med commercials, lips superglued shut.
But Bertie soldiers on. He makes more Bogart classic movie references: “Please say you will play it again” (Play it again, Sam), which is lost on her, as she is just out of her Saturday morning cartoon phase. And yet, something attracts her.
At the 2:27 mark, Ainsley moves her teeth to her bottom lip to make the “F” sound. She’s considering forsaking all the feathered-hair frat boys at college and actually getting it on with this dude who is like totally her dad’s age. Gag me. And yet…that gold necklace…is so…reflective of light. And I can nearly smell the Sex Panther wafting off his virile body.
As the song nears the end, he croons, “Here’s lookin’ at you, Kid,” which makes sense because it was only a year ago that she got her drivers license. She is a kid. But wait. Bogie didn’t say that line to Bacall in the movie, Key Largo. He said it to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca. Is he cheating on her? Is this his subtle hint?
The video ends with the couple walking along the shoreline at dusk. I sense the sun has also set on their relationship. As much as she likes his boat, she’s begun to spy little grey hairs in his beard, and he’s been complaining of arthritis in his knuckles. After all, he was born in the middle of WWII, only like a million years ago. She cannot fathom a life of administering Geritol each morning and separating his white blazers from his colors in the laundry.
But the best evidence are the lyrics themselves. “We had it all.” Had. Past tense. And like Bacall, she will move on to other men and star in a new “late late show.” Yes, it’s bittersweet. But was she really enough woman for all that man? I think not.
Another day, another dorm, another opportunity to ask, “Why?” This here is a shot of the ladies of the dorm labelled simply as “2-A” in the 1973 Indiana University annual. I’m not sure what catches the eye first: the look of ennui and apathy from Heavy-Lidded Ladyfingers in the front row, or her barefoot buddy holding a bottle of Vermont Maple Syrup on her knee. Or is it not maple syrup? Yes, I skipped vested turtleneck woman.
Then we have the skipper, whose eyes are shut, holding some sort of stuffed animal, a girl with a violin, a girl with a tennis racket, a girl with a GOLDFISH BOWL and a shirt that reads “Jesus” where the Pepsi logo should be. We make our way back with the wallflower, the trio of alcoholics, your nobody (she called today), the one in the unfortunate circus pants, the two Jan Bradies (prone to suffering from the Jan Brady Effect), and the girl in the classic mannequin head with a shag hairdo on a platter pose. It never gets old. Speaking of the two Jans, chances were high that one of these girls was actually named Janet or Janice, which ranked high during their birth year.
But the top five names were:
Still, who wouldn’t want to be a Marcia (other than Gloria Steinem, who turns 80 today)?
Today I will use my new 1973 Indiana University yearbook to play an installment of Hat Association Game. Here goes.
When I see this:
I think of Miss Mary J Blige:
And this corduroy-clad kiddo:
When I see this:
I think of afghan throws and crocheted potholders.
When I see this:
I think several things at the same time, but one of them is, “Is he really wearing a floral velvet newsboy cap with a tassle ball on top? That takes juevos.” I believe that Lance Gross proves that hat style can evolve for the better.
And lastly, when I see this:
I think of playing poker in what is clearly not a shower cap, but then I am distracted by the chipmunk cheeks of his friend, and I think of Tito Jackson.
And then I think of Tito Jackson in an oversized newsboy cap.
And Tito Jackson in a brown derby.
Which reminds me of the restaurant, the Brown Derby.
Which makes me hungry. So I’m going to head to the kitchen and fry up some free-range eggs. And I know just the hat to wear!