If you’re a huge fan of 1970s music, chances are that Starbuck’s signature hit Moonlight Feels Right is on your playlist. Great sound with great, romantic lyrics and vocals, and while it’s from the style of the 1970s, the marimba and synthesizers also seemed to hint at the future of music, when New Wave and its synthesizers would usher in the 1980s.
A few years ago on Facebook, I remarked that I’d heard Bruce Blackman had written the song for his then-girlfriend, who would later become his wife, and how wonderful it is that they’re still married. I added that I thought of the song as one of the quintessential hits of the Seventies.
Then I received a response telling me that they were already married when he wrote it, but thank you for the compliment. The person who posted the comment: Bruce Blackman. THE Bruce Blackman?! I thought.
After following Blackman on Facebook, I soon learned about his book The Road to Moonlight Feels Right and purchased a copy. I finished reading it on May 9. Some biographies are tough to read, because the author needlessly uses 1,000 words when 275 or even 500 would have sufficed. Think of a lawyer in an opening argument spending an hour to convey two minutes worth of information. Blackman, however, writes using vibrant word pictures, but also understands the literary art of pacing. He shows, doesn’t tell, and keeps the story moving.
I often cackled at Blackman’s stories, and his style reminds me of the late Mississippi humorist Jerry Clower. Granted, Blackman sometimes uses profanity but in moderation and not gratuitously.
Blackman’s book is nonfiction, but perhaps it could be called an autobiography as it discusses Blackman’s childhood growing up on the Mississippi Delta in Greenville. He details lessons learned across the spectrum, developing as a writer and athlete and having a teacher who pushed him to be his best. He also discusses difficult times, such as learning that a close friend had been killed on his second tour in Vietnam. And for those who love MFR, Blackman describes how he met and eventually won Miss Peggy’s heart.
Musicians have to pay their dues, and Blackman details what it’s like learning as you go, losing money on a gig because the amount you pay in taxes and travel expenses outweighs what you took home. Then there are the struggles related to getting recording contracts and then realizing the company takes a lion’s share of the money. Blackman’s battles were a common tale (the late Buddy Holly was trying to get out of his recording contract when he died at 22 in 1959), and for musicians reading the book, he gives recommendations of how they can avoid the pitfalls, such as reading The Business of Music. What makes it bearable is having a wife who believes in you.
Some autobiographies are also tough to read because the author has an ego that, if mounted in the East Texas pine forests, could still easily be seen from the moon. You get the impression that Blackman’s parents instilled a strong sense of humility in him, but with a strong southern dash of “DON’T mess with me” thrown in. He’s also classy: this isn’t a “tell all,” as he declines to tell you of who he knew back in the day at parties who did drugs or engaged in hedonism.
The late film critic Roger Ebert once said, “No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is too short.” Reading Bruce Blackman’s The Road to Moonlight Feels Right will leave you hoping he has two books in the can, and is typing away at another with several more floating around in his mind.
(The Road to Moonlight Feels Right is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other Websites).
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