Seriously, What are the Odds?
I'm not sure why Donnie's fiancee Irene picked Brother Jimmy's.
Of all the bars in New York City, of the thousands of bars on the Isle of Manhattan, she managed to pick the frattiest one on Amsterdam Avenue. We stopped in for dinner and drinks at about 8 pm in honor of Irene and her old roommate Kerri's completion of the New York State Bar Exam, so we were ready to drink.
You know, let the ladies wash down all that crammed legal knowledge with some finger-lickin'-good southern barbeque, Charlotte Teas and a congratulatory pitcher or nine. There were seven of us there, and we were all waiting for Irene to get rowdy. Unfortunately for our enjoyment, only the other patrons stepped up the drunkardness.
Later on that evening, after a mind-blowing happenstance I shall detail forthwith, there'd be seven slightly dumpy, college-aged girls Coyote Uglying the bartop in celebration of the Chunky Gal in the Faux Diamond-Studded Tiara's 22nd birthday. I overheard the One with the "Filthy Bitch"-plated necklace shouting into her phone to a sober friend: "Come on up here -- it's loud, but it's funnnnn!" It's loud when you're screaming at megaphonic decibels, you strumpet. And it's fun when you're drinking from an oversized pretzel keg filled with 1,000 ounces of margarita and, hopefully, rohypnol.
Strangely, the song that pumped up everyone in the bar that night was Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone." The gaggle of increasingly inebriated girls gave each other fairly sexy lapdances before hopping on chairs and eventually the bar. The mid-30s women who met the Men of the Pfizer Softball Team in there all jumped up and down, shaking their fattening tuchuses (or is the plural of tuchus, "tuchi"?). And even the three ladies at our table belted out the anthem of this woman-scorned. Since you been gone! The juices were flowing allright. From then on that evening, everyone was smiling, yelling "Pfizer" for no good reason, and most of us voyeurs were trying to will the plastered girls to fall off the bar.
But Ms. Clarkson's wasn't the song of the night, not by a longshot. Before that drunken herd of gabby wretches took the night to the next step, before Pfizer showed up for drinks even (we hope Glaxo-Smith-Kline beat the pants off 'em in a day-night doubleheader), there was an eerily strange coincidence that just shouldn't happen outside of ghost stories and other fictional accounts. When you get down to the mathematics and the statistical odds of it, there's just no logical explanation for the following occurrence.
In between a round of appetizing Hush Puppies and our main courses, the tabled participants drenched ourselves in cheap beer and jerk-ly hilarious conversation. During one of the inevitable lulls in talk, I changed the topic to music. "Hey, so does anyone have any interest whatsoever in going to see Huey Lewis and the News at the Westbury Music Fair next week?"
(Two quick items of import: One, the venue is now called the North Fork Theatre @ Westbury, which is about as blasphemous as my saying the Three wise Magi plowed Jesus' ripe baby ass instead of giving him those gifts they promised. Secondly, I'm a hugely closeted fan of Huey's entire catalogue -- the Ace Cowboy attended one of his shows as a youngster with the parentals and recently saw him in April ripping up the Jammys. Their early work was a little too New Wave for my taste. But then Sports came out in 1983, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically...The whole album has a clear, crisp sound and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that gives the songs a big boost).
Hoobs and Donnie immediately scoffed at my suggestion, as if I'd just asked the two of them to see Kelly Clarkson in East St. Louis. Huey's playing there on the 10th anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death, and as an old San Francisco guy, I bet he whips out some cool shit in Jerome's honor. That aside, how cool would it be to go see Huey Lewis and the News? You don't think that'd be worth the $20 or however much the tickets cost? I think that would be a top-ten concert, to see Huey in a theater in the round up close and personal. But no, I got laughed out of the bar.
Donnie then brought up how he thought Huey's "I Want a New Drug" sounded exactly like Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters." And that point he broke into song, first humming the Huey number, then singing the same tune and calling it the theme from Ghostbusters. We were sold. They did sound the same, but then again, every impression Donnie does ends up sounding like Jimmy Stewart, so I was more impressed the hummed tunes didn't suffer the same fate.
At the exact second Donnie stopped singing the second of the two songs in question -- I mean, instantaneously after he finished -- the song playing in the bar ended and another one came on. The tune was familiar, as if some amateur just finished singing it. It was either "I Want a New Drug" or it was "Ghostbusters." They did sound exactly alike. Neither Hoobs or Donnie knew for sure, though I must say that was never in doubt for me. The bar was blasting "I Want a New Drug."
Now, seriously, what are the fuckin' chances of that? Of all the bars in New York City, of the thousands of bars on the Isle of Manhattan, of all the conversation topics I could have picked, of all the artists I could have brought up, of all the songs on the bar's iPod or their jukebox, of all the times to play that song, is there any logical and reasonable explanation for such a giant coincidence? We were legitimately freaked out.
It's times like these you want to pray to the Man Upstairs that you're sorry for cursing his name, that you now believe in His Higher Power and understand the message He sent you this evening. But you don't pray, because you stumble home drunk and forget the whole episode by the time your head hits the pillow.
Still, that's just crazy shit. You'd need a T1-82 just to figure out what the fuck happened that night in Brother Jimmy's. So I've been in that mini-chain bar three times now, once in Chicago and twice in New York. One time I don't remember, one time their DJ freaked us out and one time in March 1998 we discovered the Dark Star Orchestra.
Two out of three ain't bad. I like this place.
Epilogue: Yesterday I went to look up some information about the two songs, and I found this: Huey accused Parker Jr. of plagiarizing the melody from the song "I Want A New Drug" for his 1984 #1 hit theme to Ghostbusters, which was released only six months after Lewis' song climbed to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The plot thickens. "The producers of Ghostbusters had approached Lewis to use his song in the film, but their request was turned down, which led them to ask Parker to write a song similar to 'I Want A New Drug' as the theme," according to Wikipedia, featured prominently on the biography page of Ray Parker Jr.
Slack Song of the Day: Let's start off the week with a little reggae: Here's John Brown's Body with I Won't Follow Into Shadow from Ithaca's State Theater on June 3, 2005. As an added bonus, how 'bout some more JBB, Heart and Soul (not the Huey Lewis song, though) from the same show.