Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Girls just wanna have fun…but what happens if the guy is having fun with somebody else?

As the drums throb and the keyboards slink along the minor keys, the shadowy Deborah Galli emerges to confront her now very definitely EX boyfriend. Singing in a Cyndi Lauperesque accent that is pungent with the dumps of Brooklyn and the sewage of New Jersey, our Deb declaims with lethal bitterness:

"I saw you with your woman. My God you make a beautiful peyy-uhh. I heard her call you 'Honey.' I saw the way she ruffled your heyy-uhhh." (That's a rhyme of "pair" and "hair" folks).

The couple once made love to innocent tunes on the radio ("Underneath the Boardwalk…Be my little baby") but their hot-blooded affair curdled into a witch's brew of conflicting emotions: "Sometimes we were a play by Chekhov. Sometimes a rock and roll cartoon."

Check off Chekhov and cue the Poe, because Deb quotes "Dream within a dream." Pretty spooky, huh? Too bad other cuts on the album were aiming more for the "have fun" crowd, and something for Lauper-types to dance to at the disco.

Record labels seemed desperate to have their own Cyndi, and no doubt Galli was encouraged to fill her debut lp with up-tempo numbers and frivolity. Her label's choice for a 12-inch single was not this song, but a generic disco-pop number called "I Go To Zero," which didn't go to the Top Ten.

Ironically the dopey "girls just want to have fun" faded fairly quickly, along with girls wearing garbage bags (Total Coelo) along with garish wigs. Cyndi's next hit was the mournful "True Colors." The one time I did meet up with Cyndi she looked anything but happy. And I don't take the blame for it, as she was morose before we were introduced. And this was when "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was making her rich and famous. I met her up at Black Rock (the nickname we tiresome insiders use for the CBS building on 52nd Street). She was sitting around looking like a school kid in detention. She was probably called up to the Epic office to do interviews, and maybe sign some promo lps to send to disc jockeys. So when we were introduced (I was there to interview somebody else, and grab some new releases) she forced a glum hello and then continued staring off into space.

Not long after, I'm opening up promo packages, and I find yet another debut album by yet another label's Lauper wanna-be, with hair dye and punkish makeup. Only she looks a tad moody (the gun in the photo is Photoshopped). I dutifully audition some tracks, and love her self-penned "French Kisses." Why wasn't this the single? Would she be available for an interview? Was this a posthumous release? I had to keep wondering. Because...

Not everyone on a record label gets any kind of push. Sometimes even a direct call to a publicist yields, "Huh? You sure we have that artist on our label?" Or, "Have no idea about interview availability. But Cheap Trick can do a phoner…"

Ironically in 1985, a year after Galli's album came out, the movie "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" briefly hit movie houses. It starred embryonic starlets Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt and Shannen Doherty. The producers didn't use Lauper's version of the song. Instead, the piece was performed by the trio of Tami Holbrook, Meredith Marshall and Deborah Galli.

What's become of Deborah Galli since 1985? Hopefully she's not in any "sticky situation" (a grim phrase in the song related to clotted gore). Meanwhile, enjoy this immortally mortal, chillingly weird, New Yawk-tinged goth number that fell through the cracks like a Raid-sprayed black widow spider. Girls just wanna have fun, but women bleed. And they just might take you with 'em when they do.

FRENCH KISSES - Deborah Galli


Kris Galli said...

The remarkable woman singing this song is my sister. Yes, she's alive and well and, although living an entirely different life these days, is still in possession of the soul and spirit that penned French Kisses - and so many others. The bulk of Deb's music was not, of course, included in this for-the-masses pop album she did for Polygram. But there's a lot of it, and it's all brilliant. Deb's an amazing songwriter and an amazing woman.
Thanks to Ill Folks for bringing this song onto the web. It deserves another life, and if the music gods have any smarts at all, well, who knows... In any case, it was great to hear it again. Haunting indeed!
Kris Galli

Ill Folks said...

Thanks so much, Kris. You are a remarkable woman too, and I enjoyed visiting your website.

Thanks for the comment that reflects just how frustrating the "business" side can be...that Polygram couldn't quite figure how to market a talent like Deb.

I hope the "music gods" can find an alternative. Today's strategy seems to involve giving away everything on penny-per-pay Spotify. Or hoping CD Baby and eMusic can break a new artist. The result is a lot of broke artists who must find other ways of making a living and being creative.

The hope with this blog has always been to at least provide a sample song and some background for some "haunting" artists.

Anonymous said...

I was in a band with Deb in the late 80's in Los Angeles. "Big City". Deb, Lenny (her husband) and I wrote some great songs together. Unfortunately, no one picked us up but I had fun trying with those guys. No regrets. Good memories. Kevin Shephard

Anonymous said...

Your take on my illustrious career at Polygram Records was frighteningly accurate. Who are you? Were you there?!! Seriously, thank you for loving my little tune.
You're so right. 'She's So Unusual' had hit big and every label wanted a Lauper. If you look up the movie Girls Just Want To Have Fun you'll see that Polygram did the soundtrack and yours truly sang the title song. Regarding my album, here is the irony. Polygram signed me because they
loved 'French Kisses'. Then they decided to release a song I didn't write as the single. I said no. So they decided to release another of my songs, 'American Boys', for the first single with a catch. I was to rewrite the lyrics and make the song a huge pro-America anthem, a war-cry of sorts...American boys are the best at everything. (It was just a little pop song. This was absurd). I resisted and the VP hired another writer to rewrite my song, giving me a big, LOUD speech one night in the studio about learning to play the game. "The planes fly both ways everyday, honey!" Those are the words that rang in my head for quite awhile. Long story short, I was decidedly not a team player. Polygram released my song as is without a video, without airplay push, stopped returning my phone calls and in awhile a secretary informed me that I was no longer on the label.
I tried for another deal through many incarnations including the Big City band with Kevin Shephard and even an all girl metal band but no go. I have no regrets. Here's why. A few years ago I had an epiphany. If I had been a successful musical artist I probably would have spent my life on the road, away from my two amazing kids and, ultimately THAT would have been the wrong destiny: chasing hollow victories.
I still love French Kisses, the song that started my wild ride. Thank you for completely getting that song. Yours was the most spot on review I've ever received. To be finally, truly heard--that's all I ever really wanted.
God bless you for recognizing artists that get lost in the .
Deborah Galli
(Hey Kevin, let's re-connect)

Ill Folks said...

Hi Deborah, thanks SO much for the great response. That's what makes the blog worth doing...to go back in time, and more important, to come back with what still stands up, like "French Kisses."

Yeah, I was editing one of the second (or was it third) tier rock mags of the day, and encountering all those publicists (Sherry Ring, Doreen D'agostino, Susan Blond, etc.) and sometimes wondering why sometimes they seemed so diffident on artists I thought were great.

And yeah, Mercury was very screwy. City Boy. Martin Briley. Graham Parker of course. Sometimes all I got was a record and bio and had to surmise why the artist was signed, what the plan might have been, and (most baffling) what was going wrong and why I wasn't getting a phoner and why there wasn't going to be another release for the deserving artist.

Lots of great films, books, albums and songs out there that at least have a cult following. "French Kisses" is a gem. Maybe ala Sarah Kernochan you'll one day have a website for fans to discover some other songs and read a little more about your world, past & present.

circlegal said...

Hey there. Sister Galli here again. I was just chatting with the patriarch, (let's call him Papa Galli; the aunts all called him Joe-Joe, but we won't go there) on the phone. He asked me to put this out there... You mentioned that this song would be good even now. So here's the hypothetical question of the day: Is there anyone out there who knows someone who knows someone who... well, you know, who might be willing to pick this song up - with Deb involved, of course. Suppose it was recorded by a different singer (assuming my sister had no interest in dipping her toes back into the muddy, muddy music business) with a different label, perhaps with a different arrangement? What would be the chances of that? Any names come to mind? Any miracles in anyone's back pocket?
Okay, there's my/our thought. One can't fish without bait, so there it is. I've flung it out there. Calling all angels, as they say.

Bruce W. said...

Since everyone is chiming in about Deborah , I will too.

I was involved with the band for a bit prior to the flight to LA. I wasn't the guy who hung out with musicians (that would be drummer CHris Matoon - ha ha Chrisa truly great and talented guy but I love that joke).

Deborah wrote some very lyrically unusual songs and she desinately out-unusualed Lauper. more on the Lauper comparison later.

"Shopping," and "Nuclear Surfer" were two fo my fave originals. Larry Hamilton's keyboards made them both powerful and eerie.

She "re-wrote" an popular song of the time into "Richie's Birthday" which was lyrically very moving as a coming of age story and could have also gone somewhere with royalties going to a Boston band. This was in an era prior to sampliing and NOT paying for samples !

Deborah performed barefoot in a men's oxford shirt. It was more girls sleepover style than sexual but I am sure that opinions vary. Her vocals were as uniwue and compelling as her dialect was very unique.

To define her in pop culture was a moving target - perhap a little part Lauper but more parts Deborah Harry (she covered "Dreaming" in a sweet and inviting way) and if there were a female Ramone it would have been Deborah.

She believed in Stanislovsky and other method ways of pwerforming. she read a lot. She was very smart and her opinions were based in deep things that she vbelieved in.

Wait - this is sounding like an epitaph. Sorry....

She is one of those new artists that, aside form knowing her, I believed in...so much that she invited me to manage the band's shows in the Northeast for a bit. And that was fun - especially being thrown out of a motel when 6 of us unleaded into the walk-in room then headed to the UMass run hotel following a Northampton MA gig. Or the club owner that pulled a Blues brothers scene about trying to deduct bar tab from our show payment. How do I remember this stuff.

But in the end - Deborah had it all together in priority. Raising her kids and keep on keeping on.

Anonymous said...

June 2015

Hey Deb.,

Kevin Shephard here. Let's catch up. [shephrd2@yahoo.com]