You Know, That Smooth Jazz Instrumental Hit From the 80s
I am, at heart, a child of the 80s. Not the cool 80s mind you. The easy listening crap that they played on B 98.5 (for those Atlanta readers out there) was my mom’s bread and butter. I got totted around in the car to every Marshalls and TJ Maxx in the metro area as Phil Collins, Lionel Richie and Richard Marx shaped my formative years. Its a small miracle my music sensibilities remained intact after listening to Whitney croon on “How Will I Know” or Rick Astley’s sugaring up the radio dial with “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Granted, this symphony of pop wasn’t all bad. The Police, Sade and 70s classics like Supertramp would sneak in there from time to time. I am happy to report my first cassette tape in kindergarden was either Michael Jackson’s Thriller or the Return of the Jedi soundtrack, played on a My First Sony boombox. Weezy’s got nothing on me.
Although my music tastes have thankfully evolved considerably over the years, I still have a guilty pleasures 80s mix that I fall back on when I can’t seem to find an album fitting my mood. This is comfort music that goes with just about anything my day could throw at me. I’ve compiled the best (or the worst depending on how you look at it) tracks from back in the day. I’d create a Spotify playlist to feature here if half the tracks weren’t so damn embarrassing to admit I listen to. Anyway, there are a few songs that aren’t on the list that I still need to find.
Usually, these Velveeta-laden tracks are ones I didn’t know I was really missing. I’ll hear one pop up while in a store or the signature verse may randomly string its way into my head. In the age of the Internet, finding a song is painfully simple. Take that snippet of lyrics and within a Google search or two you have the song that’s been plaguing you for the last thirty seconds or so. Instant gratification is a beautiful thing. What if the song has no lyrics though? That was the case with this particular 80s smooth jazz instrumental track that has been eating away at me for years.
It was pretty pervasive on radio in the early-80s, but isn’t something I’d heard in many moons. Those horns piped through my mind as clear as day, but they forever stayed out of reach. Searches like ‘Popular smooth jazz instrumental hit 80s’ brought back Kenny G and other crapola that I’m happy to say never took root in my fertile psyche. The mystery song frequently came to mind, but I largely divorced myself from the hope that I’d ever pin that slippery sucker down. It was hopeless.
I was heading down to Atlanta to cover an event last week. In true desperation, I was scanning the radio dial for something to temporarily park on. For those who live in the ATL, you know this is a fruitless exercise. Modern rock has been largely banned from the airwaves so you are stuck with a Russian roulette of Bruno Mars, country or talk radio. Damn it if I didn’t hear those distinctive horns as the radio passed some high tier channel. I was thrust into action. The scanning stopped, and the iPhone was quickly fished out of my pocket. The track was swiftly coming to a close so I had an ever shrinking window to capture this song while not causing an 18-car pileup in the process.
I hit Shazam, let it listen for its 15 seconds or so and whalaa — Chuck Mangione “Feels So Good.” Feels so good indeed. As I listened to the song play its final chords, it occurred to me that this song wasn’t even that great. The damn thing encapsulated some window into my youth that gave it far more meaning than the quality of the track itself ever could. Needless to say, it was promptly added to my list of cheesy 80s favorites, and that nagging need to discover a track I couldn’t discover was finally silenced.