GETTING MORE TALE #614: Believe It Or Not
Who doesn’t love lists of musical firsts? I’ve done my own, but here’s a record that I forgot to include.
It wasn’t my first record. As a kid, I had read-along story records: Star Wars, E.T., The Black Hole, and more. The E.T. record was cool because it was read by Drew Barrymore. I also had John Williams’ music soundtracks, like Indiana Jones.
My first “metal” album was Quiet Riot’s Metal Health. I had it on cassette. It changed my life. Going back even further, Styx’s Kilroy Was Here was the first rock album that I ever bought, but technically it wasn’t my first “rock” record. Technically. It all depends on how you define “rock”, but for the purposes of this article we’ll include soft rock under the umbrella.
In 1981 there was a new TV show that, by all signs, looked like it was going to be awesome. It was about a goofy superhero. He couldn’t fly straight, and he looked silly with his blonde curly hair in a red skintight outfit. His landings were always crash landings, and what kid doesn’t find a grown man falling down absolutely hilarious? The premise was that aliens gave the protagonist this super-suit, but he lost the manual and doesn’t know how it’s supposed to work. Funny, right?
Sadly, the program called The Greatest American Hero never lived up to the premise or the TV ads. We kids swiftly lost interest in it. Magnum P.I. occupied our TV time, and The A-Team and Knight Rider were only a couple years away. The Greatest American Hero was quickly forgotten, except for one minor detail.
The Greatest American Hero had a terrific theme song. Theme songs are important. I can hum the themes for the A-Team, Knight Rider and Magnum P.I. Can you? The Greatest American Hero had an even more memorable theme song: “Believe It Or Not”.
I didn’t know the name of the guy who sang it, I just knew I liked the song. I told everyone it was my favourite song. So one day, my Aunt from Calgary came for a visit and gave me a copy of the single. I was elated! The singer was somebody I never heard of called Joey Scarbury, and now I had the record and I could play it any time I wanted! I did, over and over.
The names meant nothing to me then, but “Believe It Or Not” was written by Mike Post, who also wrote – surprise surprise! – Magnum P.I. and the A-Team! Though Mike Post is mostly known as a TV composer (The Who have a song called “Mike Post Theme”), he even produced Van Halen III! “Believe It Or Not” must be one of his most well remembered songs. It didn’t hurt when it was spoofed on Seinfeld back in the 90s. Remember George’s answering machine? “Believe it or not, George isn’t at home…” Since then, it’s been used and re-used again in TV shows and commercials.
I remember as a kid, flipping over the record to listen to the B-side, which I immediately hated. The ballad “Little Bit of Us” was not for me. I tried playing it at different speeds to see if it would make the song any better. It didn’t and I never played it again.
I don’t actually know what happened to the record. I know I lost the sleeve (it wasn’t a picture sleeve, just a plain white one) and filed the record in with another 45. From there, it disappeared.
I may have outgrown “Believe It Or Not” but playing it today still brings a smile to my face. Not enough to try and re-watch an episode of the Greatest American Hero, and definitely not enough to track down more Joey Scarbury music. Just enough for some nostalgic rememberings.