Chart Week: February 11, 1984
Song: “I Still Can’t Get Over Loving You” – Ray Parker, Jr.
Chart Position: #16, 14th week on the chart. Peaked at #12 the week of February 4.
Ray Parker Jr. had a hell of a career. Before he formed his first band, he was in the touring bands for the Spinners, Stevie Wonder, and Barry White. Later he worked with The Carpenters, Rufus and Chaka Khan, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Deniece Williams, Bill Withers, The Temptations, Boz Skaggs, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, LaToya Jackson, and New Edition. If he never recorded a song on his own, that right there would have been a great, great career.
Beginning in 1978 with his band Raydio, he had a total of 13 Top 40 hits. Five of them hit the top 10. He will, of course, always be remembered for his biggest hit, the 1984 #1 smash “Ghostbusters,” which was both nominated for an Oscar and was the basis of a lawsuit.
Parker had a unique sound he carried through his career. It was a pleasing mix of R&B, pop, and soul. It was black without being too black, which back then was still a big deal for a black artist looking to get mainstream airplay. No one sounded like Ray Parker Jr. That is unless he was producing your music. Then your songs pretty much sounded like his.
If there’s one thing other than Ghostbusting that Ray liked to sing about, it was getting a little on the side. On his very first hit, Raydio’s #8 song “Jack & Jill,” Jack goes out and finds some love when Jill can’t give him what he needs.
Raydio’s final top 10 hit, 1981’s “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do),” was a bit of a sequel in which Parker wrote about Jill also not being faithful when Jack was out doing his thing. Casey Kasem said it could be a song in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was still fighting for passage in 1981. I’m not sure if that’s what the ERA was supposed to be about…
Parker’s first solo hit, 1982’s #4 “The Other Woman,” continued in that vein. So did other singles: “Let Me Go,” “It’s Our Own Affair,” and “Bad Boy.” Wikipedia doesn’t list Parker as having ever been married. Maybe he was onto something: he saw infidelity everywhere so why get locked down when one or both of you is just going to cheat?
Anyways…I heard this song somewhere about a year ago and a lyric near the end jumped out at me:
There’s no way to this thing’s through
I still can’t get over – not yet
I ain’t through loving you.
I’m gettin’ mad, girl
Don’t you ever try to leave- no no
It’ll be the last thing you’ll ever do
Holy shit, Ray! I know times were different, but, Jesus, even in the ‘80s I don’t think it was appropriate to threaten to kill your ex if she went off with some other dude. Especially when combined with him knocking the bust of his ex off the pedestal in this video. Kind of runs counter to the smooth, easy going persona Ray cultivated. Ever since I noticed that line last year I’ve had a hard time listening to any of Ray’s songs. And I’m hopeful that was just some dramatic account and he didn’t really threaten his exes when their relationships ended.
Elsewhere on the chart:
Debuting at #20 was “Thriller,” the biggest chart debut in over a decade. My first thought was, “That was some great marketing!” The video for “Thriller” premiered at midnight on December 2, 1983, yet the song was just debuting on the Hot 100 over two months later. Release the video, build buzz, release the single later and get a huge bump. Brilliant!
“Thriller” was, in fact, officially released as a single on January 23, 1984. But I know it was in high rotation on my local pop stations as soon as the video came out. So all that airplay counted for nothing and Michael, Quincy Jones, and Epic Records missed out on six weeks of potential massive sales and likely another #1 single.
Which doesn’t make sense, right? My best guess is that there was some kind of agreement with Paul McCartney well before “Thriller” was released that Michael would not release another single while “Say, Say, Say” was still climbing the charts. “Say Say Say” dropped from #1 the week of January 21, “Thriller” was released two days later. Maybe that was just a coincidence.
At #12 was the classic one-hit-wonder “99 Luftballons” by German artist Nena. During the countdown, Casey explained that different versions of the song had hit in different US markets. Some played the original, German version. Others were playing an updated version with English lyrics. To reflect that, Casey said they would be playing the English version in the following week’s show. I thought that was a nice touch.
I’m guessing Kansas City was an English version market, because I remember hearing it about a million times before I ever heard the German version. I could be wrong, though. It was 36 years ago.