Music Friday Flashback: Class of ’74 Gold Ring Stars in Starbuck’s ‘Moonlight Feels Right’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we flash back to the summer of ’76, when Starbuck was topping the charts with “Moonlight Feels Right,” a classic tune that stars a University of Mississippi class ring and includes one of the finest marimba solos ever performed in a pop song.

starbuck

In this song about a starlit rendezvous on the Chesapeake Bay between a Southern belle and regular guy from Baltimore, lead vocalist Bruce Blackman sets the scene and delivers our jewelry reference: “You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss / Class of seven-four gold ring.”

“Moonlight Feels Right” was Starbuck’s debut single and a huge hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. What most people don’t know is the song and the band were thisclose to obscurity.

Founding band members Blackman and Bo Wagner revealed to the AP in November of 1976 that they traveled more than 8,000 miles in their cars, visiting 200 stations and working on a budget of a scant $5,700 ($700 from the record company and $5,000 of their own money) in a relentless, but fruitless, effort to get radio deejays to play the song. The musicians had to give up after 4½ weeks when the money ran out and Blackman’s car was repossessed because he couldn’t keep up the payments.

Luckily, a single Birmingham deejay put the song on his play list and it quickly sold 18,000 copies in one week. The money generated by the Birmingham sales gave Blackman and Wagner the funds to go to San Francisco, where they presented the song to disc jockeys there. “Moonlight Feels Right” was on its way, wrote the AP.

Please check out the video at the end of this post. It features a summer 2013 reunion of the original band and includes Wagner performing what is widely considered to be the top marimba solo in pop music history. Wagner’s solo starts at the 2:10 mark. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Moonlight Feels Right”
Written by Bruce Blackman. Performed by Starbuck.

The wind blew some luck in my direction
I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French connection
You winked and gave me your o.k.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right, moonlight feels right

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin’ bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
Cause southern belles are hell at night
You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss
Class of seven-four gold ring
The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss
To make the tide rise again

Moonlight feels right, moonlight feels right

We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning
And watch it fade the moon away
I guess you know I’m giving you a warning
Cause me and moon are itching to play
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right, moonlight feels right

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