On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82. From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend. Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day. For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet. And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).
In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post. On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40. On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1.
As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”
In the Fall of 1988, I heard a song on the radio that sounded pretty cool and reminded me of Huey Lewis. It turned out not to be Huey, nor did Huey have any connection to the song. That song was “Not Just Another Girl,” the debut single for Ivan Neville, the son of the amazing Aaron Neville, and the nephew to the members of The Neville Brothers, who actually DID open for Huey Lewis & The News in Portland, Maine back in 1985. (HA! See, I knew there was a Huey connection there somewhere!)
“Not Just Another Girl,” from Ivan’s debut album, IF MY ANCESTORS COULD SEE ME NOW, debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 81 in early October 1988, about two months after Ivan turned 29. The highest-debuting song on the Hot 100 that week? “Small World” by Huey Lewis & The News! Another connection! I should stop.
Though Huey wasn’t involved, Ivan Neville had some heavy hitters on IF MY ANCESTORS COULD SEE ME NOW, including his dad, Aaron Neville, Jason Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Jim Keltner, Jeff Pocaro of Toto, J.D. Souther, Randy Jackson (of AMERICAN IDOL fame), and Danny Kortchmar, who not only produced the album, but played guitar, keyboards, bass, drum programming, and he was responsible for the sax on “Not Just Another Girl.”
“Not Just Another Girl,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the Dan Aykroyd film, MY STEPMOTHER WAS AN ALIEN (and included the incredible “Pump Up The Volume” by M/A/R/R/S and the Top 10 hit, “Room To Move” by Animotion), reached the Top 40 of the Hot 100 six weeks into its chart run, and spent a week at its peak position of No. 26 in mid-December 1988, and hung around until the day before my 22nd birthday in February 1989.
Ivan Neville had one more Hot 100 hit, with the follow-up single to “Not Just Another Girl” – “Falling Out Of Love,” a duet with the aforementioned Bonnie Raitt, which reached No. 91 in March 1989.
The New Orleans native released three more solo albums between 1994 and 2004, worked with Keith Richards and several other artists, and in 2003, he formed a Funk and Jam band called Dumpstaphunk (great name). They are still together and have had three releases to date.
You can also hear Ivan on the fantastic soundtrack to the brilliant 1990 film, PUMP UP THE VOLUME, with “Why Can’t I Fall In Love,” a song that Christian Slater’s on-air character “Happy Harry Hard-On” dedicated to his love interest, Nora (Samantha Mathis): “I’m gonna cut out now with this unusual song… I’m dedicating to… an unusual person… who makes me feel kind of… unusual.”
Well, I can’t say “Why Can’t I Fall In Love” or Ivan Neville makes me feel kind of unusual, but I can say I really love “Not Just Another Girl,” which didn’t even need a Huey Lewis connection for me to really dig it. And, for a guy who hasn’t concentrated on hit singles for most of his career, his debut single was pretty awesome…
“She could have been from anywhere / She could have had most anyone / I bet the girls in another world / Not just another girl…”