Teddy Pendergrass was the sex god of the late ‘70s, or so the legend goes. When T.P. was at his peak, I was a toddler and had no idea what a “sex god” was, so I can’t say I have first-hand knowledge. One listen to “Close The Door”, though, and I think you’ll believe the hype. Pannies were definitely lost (or thrown) when this smooth slow jam came on the radio.
Eddie Murphy famously had a comedy bit about Teddy’s aggressive vocalizing, noting in a routine that the former Blue Note “scared the bitches into liking him”. The interesting thing about “Close The Door” is that Teddy doesn’t really turn the volume up until the track’s conclusion. Teddy’s damn near whispering in the verses…voice progressively rising with intensity until he’s “loving you, and you loooooooving meeeEEEEEE….CLOOOOOSE THE DOOR BAY-BEE!” There’s an interesting combination of old-school masculine virility and sensitivity that takes place in this song and much of Teddy’s pre-accident work. Gotta also credit Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, whose stately arrangement adds a heaping dollop of orchestral class to what’s essentially an invitation to fuck.
“Close The Door” did scare some folks…white radio programmers, to be specific. Despite hitting the top of the R&B charts and being certified Gold, Teddy’s biggest hit didn’t even hit the top 20 of the pop charts. Crazy to think that one of the decade’s most successful artists (five straight platinum albums at his height) couldn’t get arrested on top 40 radio. Too Black, too strong, too sexy.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
“Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz (2001): I am not a Blur fan. So when Gorillaz was announced as a project, I can’t say I was terribly excited about it. I thought the gimmick was cool, but didn’t pin high hopes on the music. Then “Clint Eastwood” appeared as the act’s first single, and I was like “hey, maybe this won’t be so bad after all!” I love Del’s cadence and his voice, and while I generally appreciate the fact that there is a Del Tha Funkee Homosapien more than I appreciate his actual music, this is one song I like as much as I enjoy the idea of his existence.
“Clint Eastwood” also has a certain je nes sais quoi that ties it directly to marijuana. Perhaps it’s the presence of Del, whose drug history is prodigious, to say the least. This tie-together was crystallized when I attended a Trey Anastasio concert with my super-stoner boyfriend at the time, and the Phish frontman and his band covered… “Clint Eastwood”. Reading that sentence gives me a contact.