Last week, starting in a Nashville parking lot, I took an unexpected ride back in time. There was an old gold Datsun 280ZX in a space near the shop I had just left. Man! What hot cars they were in the 1980s and this one appeared to have driven people to a fair share of memorable moments. Seeing it brought back memories and song lyrics that reminded me of someone I called “Scarlett O’Hara in a 280 Z.” Someone with Seductive Eyes.
In January, 1977, I was a student at the University of Mississippi and had begun to write songs. During Christmas break at home in Pascagoula, I started one based on an Ole Miss coed. We had some classes together and she was in beauty pageants and other high-profile campus activities. But what struck me then and probably still would if I saw her today were her eyes. The first line, “You’ve got Seductive Eyes; you’ve got a sexy smile,” flowed naturally and melodically. In reality, those eyes usually gazed past me toward some other male student and her sexy smile appeared when she found something amusing that only involved me inadvertently.
But I was a young songwriter reading romance into everything so I embellished. You may find this hard to believe, but in addition to this beauty’s eyes, I noticed attractive and distinct characteristics of other female classmates. Those traits were combined into the ultimate contemporary Southern Belle in my song. One drove a convertible Triumph, which I changed to “a new MG,” in my song. Another smoked Virginia Slim cigarettes and exhaled smoke curls in a way that would have made a film noir bombshell envious. “Smokin’ those skinny little cigarettes…”
Many were fashion plates, “always wearing the latest dress,” and the student section at Ole Miss football games was elevated to the status of a Paris runway for these well-appointed Mississippi models. Those were just a few of the reasons I liked them so much, I guess.
Over Christmas, I worked on my song but felt it was incomplete. Then, on the long drive alone back to Oxford, another verse occurred to me. I stopped at a Jitney Jungle grocery in Hattiesburg, bought a pad and scribbled it down so I wouldn’t forget it. I sang Seductive Eyes over and over for the next five hours and by the time I got back to Ole Miss, I had it memorized. The song began to get attention when I performed it on campus and after graduation when I played for friends and in clubs. My mother told me it was her favorite of the songs I had written.
I changed the “new MG” lyric to “Scarlett O’Hara in a 280Z” when I heard that production might cease by the British automaker. So the hot car became a Datsun and many people I
sang for in Mobile, Alabama, where I had moved in 1980, assumed I was singing about the young professional women I knew in the Port City. My first and only 45-rpm record included Seductive Eyes as the B-side in 1986. The song still circulates on CD and online. And it’s often on my current set lists.
Though I did not get inside and ride in the 280ZX I saw in Nashville, I stood there and gazed at it a while. It was almost winking as if it could tell I was thinking, “I like your style.”
Learn More about Les at www.leskerr.com
Photos and text copyright 2012.