Day: November 20, 2023

Reaching For The Stars, Vol. 94

Chart Week: November 14, 1981
Song: “Never Too Much” – Luther Vandross
Chart Position: #37, 6th week on the chart, first week in the Top 40. Peaked at #33 for two weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving week to you all! A quick entry based on a Casey anecdote about how a pop artist paid the bills before he started making hits of his own.

The Voice of a Generation. The Velvet Voice. Soundtrack to more babies being made than any artist of his era.

Those are a few of the nicknames Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. picked up over his career.[1] That last one is unofficial, of course.

“Never Too Much” was indeed the first single of his solo career. But Luther had been on the charts before. He was a highly valued backup singer to some of the biggest stars of the Seventies, lending vocals to tracks by Donna Summer, Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, and Chaka Khan. For my readers, the song you probably heard his voice on first was David Bowie’s “Young Americans.”

Luther did more than sing backup to other stars, though. He wrote and sang advertising jingles for a variety of major companies, including Pepsi, Juicy Fruit gum, Miller beer, and NBC. As I was looking into his jingle career, I found this amazing ad for Gino’s pizza. Which, unfortunately, will not embed in this post. Please, click the link.

There’s an equally amazing video on Facebook where Luther talks about the making of that ad.

In this countdown, Casey mentioned some of those ads Luther’s voice appeared on, and suggested all that work had made him both famous and very comfortable financially, an assertion the Facebook video seems to confirm. That wasn’t enough, though.

“The money is fine,” Casey quoted Luther as saying, “but sometimes I want to sing a whole song!”

Luther got his chance and capitalized on it, becoming one of the most successful soul singers of the next two decades.

He wrote, composed, arranged, and produced this track, along with most of his debut album. From the first notes, Luther carved out a unique space in music. “Never Too Much” is a cool mashup of contemporary soul and yacht rock, largely thanks to its impeccable production. Every sound is polished for maximum shininess. There’s a jazzy quality to how Luther sings the verses. The song is not too far off from the music George Benson was making around the same time. Luther is always in the pocket with his vocals, never showing off or pushing too far, which was his great strength. His voice was warm, comforting, sophisticated, and smooth as silk.

“Never Too Much” was #1 on the soul chart for two weeks, the first of his seven Soul/R&B number ones.[2] There were bigger things to come for Luther on the pop chart later in his career. This was fine way to introduce himself to the world as a singer capable of carrying an entire song on his own. 7/10

Weekend Notes

Kind of a chill weekend, with the holiday ahead of us. M does not come home until Tuesday so it was the usual crew around the house. L had a game Friday, more on that later. The weather was nice, so S and I did some yard work at a sister’s house Sunday. And a fair amount of football, the biggest game being a certain showdown in a certain state when a certain blogger attended college.




So freaking close to ending the 14-game losing streak to the Wildcats, closing out the current edition of Booth Memorial Stadium with a huge win, and going to Cincinnati next weekend with a chance for win #8, the program’s most since 2007.

The first four minutes could not have gone worse for KU, giving up a long pass on K-State’s first play then letting them score soon after, and following that up with a quick three-and-out. K-State is not a team you can get behind under normal circumstances. When you’re playing with your third-string quarterback, there is way less room for mistakes.

Fortunately the KU defense bucked their heads on K-State’s second drive, then Devin Neal got busy. Two Neal touchdowns had KU a PAT away from a touchdown lead in front of a frenzied home crowd. So naturally KU decided not to block a dude, who smothered the kick and then ran it back for a safety. Instead of 14–7, it’s 13–9 and KU fans are getting a queasy feeling in their stomaches.

Still KU led by four at halftime, and quickly added another Devin Neal TD early in the third quarter to extend the lead.

Then came the play of the game. Senior linebacker Rich Miller had a sure pick-six in his hands. And he dropped it. It was inevitable that KSU would rip off a long run on the next play, and eventually punch it in and get the two-point conversion to cut the lead to three. The game might have been over if Miller walks that interception into the end zone. Seriously, he could have done cartwheels into the end zone. Maybe he was trying to do just that and that’s why he dropped it.

Now it was just a question of how KU would find a way to blow the game. Turns out it was by fumbling a punt at midfield early in the fourth quarter.

Such a dumb play. So, so stupid. I don’t want to kill the kid who made the blunder, but he did the exact same thing in the Oklahoma game. JUST CATCH THE DAMN BALL.

31–27 Kansas State, final. Which, if KU blocks that guy in the first half and then K-State doesn’t go for two in the third quarter, it’s actually a tie game as KU drove late. And instead of getting picked off in the end zone on fourth down, they kick the short field goal to take the lead in the closing minutes.

Who am I kidding? If the game was tied and it came down to a field goal attempt, KU would have missed it. Or K-State would have blocked that one and run it back.


A game effort from KU when a lot was stacked against them. The offensive coaches had a pretty great plan for limiting what freshman Cole Ballard had to do, and he played a nearly perfect game in the first half. It felt like KU ran out of wrinkles in the second half, though, and Ballard was asked to do more than he is capable of at the moment. He was lucky that a couple bad balls weren’t picked, then luckier when his first interception was negated two plays later by a Mello Dotson pick. I can’t fault Ballard for the interception on KU’s final offensive play. It wasn’t a great throw and as the Fox announcers pointed out, the KU receivers did not run great routes. I was more annoyed that since KU knew it needed a touchdown, that Neal didn’t touch the ball on first or second down. Passing early with an inexperienced quarterback against a good defense seemed like a real reach. Give your stud who grew up in Lawrence hating Kansas State a couple shots at punching it in.

Oh well. KU did a lot right Saturday and aside from three mistakes, did more than enough to win the game. Those three mistakes were huge, though, and K-State took advantage of each one. That’s where KU is trying to get, when you are the team that holds steady in the game’s biggest moments. The Jayhawks are closer, so much closer than they have been for years, but they still aren’t there yet.

Throw in the fourth quarter collapse in Stillwater and the funkiness last week against Tech, and KU is very close to being 10–1. 9–2 is much more realistic. 7–4 with one to play is nothing to be mad about, especially at KU. But Saturday was a huge missed opportunity.

I have to say I got sick of all the KU-KState “banter” on Twitter. It’s one thing to talk shit with your rival. But a lot of what happens on Twitter is just dumb, lacking in either thought or foundation in facts. I guess that kind of sums up social media, right? I miss the old, third party Twitter apps that allowed you to mute people for specific amounts of time and then automatically bring them back into your feed. Maybe the Tech Toddler will post some more racist/anti-semitic stuff and he’ll get bought/forced out and some new ownership will bring back those options.


In other college football news, I’ve never felt strongly about Michigan. Pretty much everyone here in Big 10 country seems to hate the school and their fans. In the time we’ve lived here, Ohio State has generally been the better team, so I’ve learned to hate Buckeyes fans more than Wolverines fans. The only Michigan person I know is pretty cool, plus he’s an Indy native so his Hoosier DNA balances some of that Wolverine douchiness.

But the last couple weeks have flipped that.

I’m not super fired up about the Michigan sign stealing scandal. Everyone is trying to steal signs. You can’t tell me every program doesn’t have some grad assistant watching tape and trying to match up formations with whatever signs they can pick up on the sidelines, looking for an advantage.

And I feel like whatever Michigan was doing was way less egregious than what the Houston Astros did. A baseball hitter knowing whether the next pitch is a fastball or off-speed makes a huge difference in their approach. I don’t think stealing signs in football gives you the same advantage, as it’s an 11-v–11 matchup, and if you adjust your defense, the offense can audible to another call. Plus pretty much every coach who has talked about it claims they often rotate their signals, so what you learned in week three may have no relevance in week six.

That said…Michigan fans need to shut the fuck up. This whole Michigan Vs. Everybody bullshit is so fucking dumb. You had a booster paying someone to go to games and steal signs. That seems a little dirty, even if 90% of other coaches are smacking their heads because they didn’t think of it first. And it’s pretty telling when the Big 10 presented all their evidence to UM and Jim Harbaugh quickly agreed to serve a three-game suspension. That doesn’t seem like a manufactured witch hunt to me at all. It seems like UM fans should be thankful Harbaugh folded and a more significant punishment wasn’t levied.

And I think those UM fans who rushed the field in Maryland after UM won the program’s 1000th game should all be shot. Or at least imprisoned for a lengthy amount of time. And they have the nerve to wonder why people hate them. I might actually root for Ohio State this week…

HS Football

Not super relevant to our family but thought I would share that Indiana will have a new 6A football champion for the first time in four years.

Center Grove was down 18 in the third quarter, came back to take a lead, then couldn’t cover a Ben Davis fumble in the closing seconds of regulation, allowing the Giants to kick a tying field goal that sent the game to overtime. CG could only manage a field goal while Ben Davis scored a touchdown to advance to the state title game.

Quite a run for the Giants. They were down 18 to #1 Brownsburg in the sectional finals and came back to win with 24 fourth-quarter points. It took a field goal in the final 90 seconds then an interception to knock off Cathedral in regionals. And now this, the biggest win of all. Props to them. Ben Davis is one of the most successful programs in Indiana history, but they’ve been down a little lately. A lot of people who probably wouldn’t normally pull for them were hoping they could end Center Grove’s streak Friday night. Not only had CG won three-straight state titles, the year before their streak began they lost in the state title game. Hell of a run. I’m sure they’ll still be really good next year.

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