“The wind blew some luck in my direction...I caught it in my hands today...”
I always turn up the volume when “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck comes on the radio.
“I finally made a tricky French connection...you winked and gave me your okay...”
It was a major hit in the summer of 1976. To this day, it makes me smile.
“We’ll lay back and observe the constellations...and watch the moon smiling bright...”
Bruce Blackman is the man behind the microphone. The Greenville, Mississippi native also formed the band and produced the record. Now based in Atlanta, he tells me, “I am one of the luckiest people alive. That one song has made me a comfortable living, and I still love it.”
“You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss...class of ’74 gold ring...the eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss…to make the tide rise again...”
The best songs are the result of one’s life experience, and in Bruce’s case, every word rings true. He said, “My inspiration for writing the song came from a beautiful girl from Greenville. I was playing poker in a dorm room at Delta State and noticed a newspaper photo of some young women in a beauty pageant. One of the girls was incredibly beautiful. I found out what college she was attending and I registered there just to meet her. I asked her out 3 times. The third time she accepted and that’s when “the wind blew some luck in my direction.”
He continued, “The song then became a light fictional fantasy about what I hoped would happen. We’re still married 52 years later, and she’s just as beautiful as ever.”
When the song was released on little-known Private Stock records, he was in his late 20s, and had tasted a little success and a lot of failure. Radio deejays opened the “Moonlight” record envelope, saw an unfamiliar label and a no-name group, and put it in the reject stack. Linda Ronstadt, Elton John and various disco groups were getting the airplay, so Bruce and band-mate Bo Wagner got busy.
He said, “We went to all the radio stations, asking them to take three minutes to listen to our record.” Occasionally they would find a believer. But as weeks went by, and then months, there was no momentum.
“We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning...and watch it fade the moon away...”
Finally in the spring of 1976, the president of Private Stock received a fateful phone call. “This is Michael St. John from WERC in Birmingham,” the caller said. “You need to get this Starbuck record in the stores, because our listeners say they can’t find it.” This got the label’s attention. Suddenly, Bruce Blackman had a hit record on his hands.
“I guess you know I’m giving you a warning...’cause me and moon are itchin’ to play...”
Blackman remains proud of his song. He said, “People ask me if I resent being called a one-hit wonder. No sir, stop and think about it. Most singers can’t get a record deal, and if they do, they don’t score a hit. I’ve got this little song that has given me a great life. I heard it in Home Depot the other day, and people were singing along to it. I’ve never hollered out, ‘Hey that’s me!’ but I’m glad they like it. I guarantee you, it’s on the radio somewhere in the world right now.”
“I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean...and drop the top on Chesapeake Bay...ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion...the moon’ll send you on your way...”
“I’m still writing songs and producing for other artists,” Bruce said. “I’ve got to write songs, whether anybody hears them or not, it’s what I do.”
And if “Moonlight Feels Right” turns out to be the song he’ll always be known for, that’s just fine according to Bruce. “I hope they put it on my tombstone,” he said. “That song has made a lot of people happy, I see it in their faces every time I sing it. For a songwriter, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
“Moonlight...feels right...moonlight...feels right...”