:: Together ::
Simon & Garfunkel. Hall & Oates. Loggins & Messina. Payton & Perry. Yes, if one of those doesn’t belong — and Loggins & Messina comes awfully darn close — it would have to be the last pair in this cavalcade of male duo singing teams. But in 1986, the same year the Chicago Bears went on to their last success in Super Bowl XX, Bears running back Walter Payton and defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry teamed up for an ill-fated rap 12” single simply titled “Together.”
If you thought “The Super Bowl Shuffle" was stiff and clunky, “Together” — written by four Evanston, Illinois teens — makes it sound like “Rapper’s Delight.” Payton, with a reedy voice that belies his slick player looks and the monosyllabic “Fridge” gamely wade through nearly six minutes of earnest-but-clumsy “uplifting” lyrics —
So be a part of our team
Watch everyone win
Keepin’ prejudice out
And friendship in
Bringin’ pride to the nation
And joy to the world
Find yourself joined with others
Like a string of pearls
— that are bridged by a sappy female chorus over something that sounds like an early Casio keyboard preset. There’s a weird “Hands Across America” motif going through the song (holding hands, locking hands, uniting hands— okay fellas, we get it) and a horrible sax solo over which we hear Payton’s vocal being scratched “To-to-to-to-to-to-together.” It’s not as unendurable as the “Ickey Shuffle” a few years later, but “Together” should be enough to put a moratorium on sports figures crossing over into popular — or given the muted reception to this single — unpopular music.
Payton, who held the NFL record for rushing yards until it was broken by Emmitt Smith in 2002, retired two years later in 1988 and died of a rare liver ailment that turned to cancer in 1999. “The Fridge,” however, is still kicking. Celebrated in rap songs by The Fat Boys and Roq-in’ Zoo and a one-time participant in WrestleMania 2, Perry was immortalized as a G.I. Joe figure (as a Physical Training Instructor, natch) in 1986, with his weapon being a black football affixed to a chain. More recently, however, “The Fridge” has had it rough. He competed in a Nathan’s Hot Dog eating challenge (in which he dropped out) and in 2002, well above the weight he retired at in 1994, was defeated by gangly African basketball star Manute Bol in a televised charity boxing match.
This goes out to Friend Of The Robot Kevin, who’s been waiting for this weekend for 21 years. Undoubtedly, he’ll be playing this rap number at maximum volume all day long on Sunday (and chanting the lyric “Please don’t turn to drugs/’Cause the answer ain’t dope”) until he tumbles into his stereo in a blissful Old Style haze.