Song of the Day #400: ‘Centerfold’ – J. Geils Band

centerfold20 Best Songs of the 80s – #6

I’ve always lumped ‘Abracadabra’ and ‘Centerfold’ together in my mind because this is another 45 I owned around the same time. Also, the band names were similar… Steve Miller Band, J. Geils Band. I had no idea of the context or history behind each of those releases, and to be honest, I continued to have no idea about those things until now.

For example, I just learned that The J. Geils Band formed in 1967 and produced much of their work in the 70s. They had some success as a blues band in that decade before switching to pop and charting in the early 80s with such hits as ‘Love Stinks,’ ‘Freeze Frame’ and today’s song. They split not long after that, in 1983.

What I remember about ‘Centerfold’ was the prospect of a schoolmate of mine winding up as a nude model. Did I have those thoughts at 10 years old? Or maybe the song found its way to me later than that? At any rate, this song feels like it was written for (and maybe by) junior high school kids, and that made it just about perfect.

Does she walk? Does she talk?
Does she come complete?
My homeroom homeroom angel
Always pulled me from my seat

She was pure like snowflakes
No one could ever stain
The memory of my angel
Could never cause me pain

Years go by I’m lookin’ through a girly magazine
And there’s my homeroom angel on the pages in-between

My blood runs cold
My memory has just been sold
My angel is the centerfold
Angel is the centerfold

Slipped me notes under the desk
While I was thinkin’ about her dress
I was shy I turned away
Before she caught my eye

I was shakin’ in my shoes
Whenever she flashed those baby-blues
Something had a hold on me
When angel passed close by

Those soft and fuzzy sweaters
Too magical to touch
To see her in that negligee
Is really just too much

It’s okay I understand
This ain’t no never-never land
I hope that when this issue’s gone
I’ll see you when your clothes are on

Take you car, Yes we will
We’ll take your car and drive it
We’ll take it to a motel room
And take ’em off in private

A part of me has just been ripped
The pages from my mind are stripped
Oh no, I can’t deny it
Oh yea, I guess I gotta buy it!

16 thoughts on “Song of the Day #400: ‘Centerfold’ – J. Geils Band

  1. Amy says:

    Hmmmm…. we’re down to #6. These past few songss have been fascinating, as I can’t decide if they give us a greater glimpse into the typical tween male psyche or offer some other kind of insight. When I read your first blog that you would be doing this theme, I immediately thought of several sappy love songs (think REO Speedwagon and Survivor) – while you apparently were intrigued by the notion of that sweet little girl (not much older than Sophia ;P) sitting next to you in homeroom.
    OR did one song not make more of an impression than another at the time, but now, when you look back, you gravitate towards the ones that stand out for one reason or another?

    I remember this song, of course, though mostly because you liked it so much.

  2. Clay says:

    Well, in ordering these songs, I definitely leaned toward songs that I actually owned when compiling the top 5-10. My music collection at the time consisted of about 12 records, so it’s an easy exercise.

    The question I have is whether I owned those particular records because they really appealed to me or through blind chance. Probably a combination of the two.

  3. Dana says:

    I was totally into the songs you mentioned, including today’s SOTD, from J Geils. And I also had assumed they were more of an 80’s phenomenon at the time their hits were in heavy MTV rotation. Then, when I bought Songs in the Attic, Billy Joel made a reference to being the opening act for major bands of the 70’s, and listed J Geils among them. My first reaction was: Billy Joel OPENED for J Geils, not the other way around? How on earth could there have been a time that Joel was so much less popular than J Geils or, conversely, that J Geils was so big as to play big arenas with Joel as the lesser known opening act? So that’s when I realized that Geils was more a band of the 70’s and I had obviously missed the boat. Of course, it’s ironic now to think of J Geils being so much bigger than a legend like Joel. I’m fairly sure that, even if they were still together today, they would be the opening act for Huey Lewis at the free concert at Gulfstream Park, while Joel can still sell out Madison Square Garden 10 nights in a row.

    As to Amy’s point (and Kerrie’s in past posts), I too have been a bit surprised at a few of the selections (though not many) and have a few songs/bands in mind who should be on the list. But I don’t really quibble with this selection. Notwithstanding their apparently successful career in the 70’s, J Geils is, for me, truly stuck in time forever in the early 80’s when this song (and Freeze Frame) were played every 20 minutes on MTV.

  4. Amy says:

    Just to be clear – I didn’t mean to question any song on Clay’s list. Rather, I’m intrigued what earned each song its spot. Whether it was the affection Clay had for the song at the time or the fact that it had held up as a quintessential example of the 80’s all these years later. I certainly didn’t (and don’t) expect “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” to be on Clay’s list, though it would definitely show up on mine. And I was curious if that had more to do with how old we were and what was most occupying us in the 80’s or some other factor entirely.

  5. Kerrie Rueda says:

    This one is more of an 80s tune for me than Steve Miller Band, but I understand what Amy is saying. That was my question yesterday. Clay and I are the same age but we apparently have some different ideas about what stood out in the world of 80s music to set that era apart from others.

    I have been pretty much in line with the list (George Michael, Men at Work, Cyndi Lauper, even the recent Tears for Fears entry) until the last few days when things I have been expecting to see have not appeared, and things that do not exemplify the 80s for me have taken slots in the “top 10.” There was certainly no shortage of music in the 80s to appeal to a variety of musical tastes, but at number 6 I’m surprised to not have seen Duran Duran yet (maybe they’ll be #1!!!), or Huey Lewis and the News, or Peter Dolby, etc.

    I will try to remain patient for the top 5 to see if our lists will get closer again, but regardless of what I see next week, I have been enjoying this lovely trip down memory lane. πŸ™‚

  6. Clay says:

    Ooh, Huey Lewis… I didn’t even think of him. He could well have had a spot on the list!

  7. Amy says:

    What?! NO Huey Lewis?! I’ll reluctantly admit that Dana and I spent part of our dinner conversation tonight guessing what might fill out the top five. We have more songs left than there are remaining spots, but we both definitely thought Huey Lewis would occupy one of them. I’m waiting to see if you had ever heard of this young woman named MADONNA, or a rather popular artist named Michael Jackson, who released a little album entitled Thriller at some point during the 80’s – perhaps you heard of it? Those are the big three I was certain you had to represent, so I’ll be curious to see if MJ and Madonna are as dissed as Mr. Power of Love seems to have been.

  8. Clay says:

    I’ll end some of the suspense (and maybe generate more?) and reveal that neither Michael Jackson nor Madonna will show up here. As I wrote way back in the first 80s entry, “I’m also trying to avoid artists that made a name for themselves outside the decade.”

    I skipped those two because, while they certainly became huge in the 80s and helped shape the sound of the era, they are much bigger than the 80s. They don’t need to be on a list like this. I wanted to concentrate on artists who were confined to the 80s (for the most part).

    However, there is a major exception to that rule in the next five.

  9. Kerrie Rueda says:

    Okay, NOW I’m intrigued!

  10. Amy says:

    I don’t disagree with your concept, but how much have you really listened to either Michael Jackson or Madonna (or certainly Huey Lewis?) since the 80’s?? They may be bigger than the 80’s, but I’d argue that your (and, I readily confess, my) primary association with those artists comes during the 80’s. When MJ died (was murdered?!), I was surprised to realize that I didn’t own Thriller, which means I had never owned it on CD, which means – what? I had it only on cassette? or an album? And the MTV rotations of which we have all talked so much during this countdown was owned by Michael Jackson and Madonna. Can you honestly say you don’t have myriad memories of watching “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Holiday,” “Material Girl,” “Borderline” – I mean – COME ON!

    So… if one artist (Bruce Springsteen for “Dancing in the Dark” is my guess) does get to break that mold, then I say throw out the frakking mold and put MJ and Madonna in the 80’s where they belong!!!

    Glad I got that off my chest. That’s the power of love.

  11. Dana says:

    I understand the rationale for the omission of Jackson and Madonna from the list. But Huey Lewis? I cannot abide! Lewis fits your parameters to a tee. HUGE in the 80’s, with their presence felt on the radio, MTV and movies, then they disappeared. I respectfully suggest that it is not too late to stop the presses on the top 5, kick out that Oingo Boingo song that you had cued up (which will send Amy and Kerrie into an apoplectic fit) and insert I Want A New Drug stat!

    Dammit, man….can’t you see I’m trying to protect you!

  12. Clay says:

    You will be invited — nay, encouraged — to present your own list once mine is finished. Until then, no more complaints! πŸ™‚

    Huey Lewis was indeed a major omission. Not sure why I didn’t think of him in the process of compiling this list. He and his News put on one of the first concerts I ever attended.

    I’ll give him a SOTD apart from the list as a tribute… how about that?

  13. Kerrie Rueda says:

    Oh, Dana, I thought you knew me better than that. I would not object AT ALL to the inclusion of Oingo Boingo, dear sir. In fact, I think my 80s list would include a lot more of that type of music (throw in some Culture Club, the Thompson Twins, Psychadelic Furs, OMD, Spandeau Ballet… I could literally go on and on).

    I do, however, find it really amazing that Clay didn’t think of Huey Lewis on his own. It was one of my early concert going encounters, too, and it’s certainly one that I won’t ever forget (thanks, Amy!). πŸ™‚ That’s why I’m now so completely intrigued about what will be in the all important top 5.

    I wasn’t prepared for this level of controversy around your multi-week 80s theme….

  14. Dana says:

    Kerrie, I wasn’t really dissing Oingo Boingo, who I acturally really liked back in the day. I was just noting how passionate you and Amy feel that certain sings and artists should be on this list. Perhaps I should have used Wang Chung as the example?:) But, oh Kerrie, is there not a band or song of the 80’s that you did not like?:)

  15. Kerrie Rueda says:

    Sure there are bands/songs of the 80s that I didn’t especially care for, but there is something about the genre, if you will, that I just love across the board. For instance, I was never a big fan of the metal rock hair bands (Poison, Motley Crue, Ratt, Europe, etc.) but I appreciate their contribution to music from the 80s so I wouldn’t have objected to any of them being included. They weren’t my preference, but they were part of the era and certainly contributed something.

  16. Amy says:

    headaches? πŸ˜‰

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