Denise Marsa, “Lucky Stars” and Life As A Student (Second Time Around)

Going to pop my head above the parapet for a wee while as this blog is in effect my web diary, and lots to write about since last weekend. Over the last few months I have hinted that I might soon become one of the Highland’s newest intake of students. I jumped through all the hoops and back in June, much to my delight, was offered a place on my chosen course. It all kicked off this week but after only 4 days, because of my mum’s deteriorating health, I have had to withdraw. Very disappointed. On the upside, I have been able to reapply as a part-time student who can pick off one module at a time. Hopefully much more manageable.

Exactly 40 years ago I was preparing to head off to study at a University founded in 1495. The college I now plan to attend only opened in 2015. So much change in the intervening half millennium (bit of an understatement), but it seems that we humans still have a yearning for learning, and fortunately nowadays, much more accessible to all.

And here is where a strange coincidence has come about. Back in my early days of blogging I wrote a post about the song Lucky Stars by Dean Friedman (link here). As I said at the time, whenever I hear it I am reminded of autumn 1978, when I first left home to sample the delights of University life. It was given blanket airplay at the time and got to No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. That post has become one of this blog’s most frequently visited, so I am obviously not alone in having fond memories of the song.

Lucky Stars by Dean Friedman and Denise Marsa:

The wonderful thing about revisiting songs all these decades later, is that it’s possible to find out so much more of the backstory. In 1978 we knew Dean duetted with a female vocalist on Lucky Stars, but as she wasn’t credited, she became known as the “mystery singer”. In 2016, I discovered she was a singer/songwriter called Denise Marsa, who like Dean, also came from New Jersey. I made sure that in my blog post at any rate, she got full credit for having been part of this great Broadway-esque “musical discussion”. Lo and behold, a few weeks later she found my post and a few emails were exchanged – The wonders of blogging. (If you watch the above clip to the end, at 3:30 you will see Dean and Denise as they are today, having reunited for a special one-off performance.)


The strange coincidence is that 40 years on, just as I prepare to embark on life as a student for the second time, who should pop up in my life again but Denise Marsa. Back in 1978, her voice was the soundtrack to my early weeks as a nervous young student and here in 2018, she was appearing again. It seems her one-woman show is being staged at the Playground Theatre in London from the 20th September, and she wanted me to spread the word via my blog. Sure thing Denise (extract from her email below).

Hi Alyson

I remember we had a brief encounter via email when you first wrote about Dean Friedman’s LUCKY STARS. Just a quick mention, I am premiering my show THE PASS in London this fall at a new theater, The Playground Theatre. Maybe you could share this news with your readers? Here’s a link to the theater website as well as some recent press.

I also hope you can attend, would like the chance to meet you! Hope you are well!

My best, Denise

Sadly with all that’s going on in my life at the moment I’m not going to be able to head down for the show and potentially meet with Denise (wouldn’t that have really been something), but in the event some Dean and Denise fans visit this post, they will at least have been alerted to the fact she is in the country, and performing live.

All this of course, got me thinking about what the young students of today will be listening to as they embark on their chosen studies. Turns out, all these years later, the idea of featuring a female singer in a song produced by a man is still alive and well. The difference nowadays is that the female gets full credit for lending their vocals to the recording. In the Top 40 at the moment we have songs featuring Anne-Marie, Dua Lipa, Demi Lovato, Cardi B, Camila Cabella, and many more I am unfamiliar with (so could embarrass myself by getting their gender wrong). I do however have a feeling my fellow students will probably follow a whole other set of artists, but it’ll be interesting for the blog getting to know who they are.

Good grief, they’re all clones of each other!

As regular followers know, this year has seen me becoming the very squeezed filling in a generational sandwich, trying to cope with a mum who has health issues just not able to be addressed by the social care system and a daughter who has still not quite flown the nest. My mum is now in hospital, as her fall the other week seems to have caused a (previously undetected) fractured pelvis – Not easy to get over at any age, but at least she is being cared for. DD has started her course at college and seems to be getting on fine so perhaps, just perhaps, I might be able to have some “me-time” and find my feet as a mature student. Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, life is never dull around here.

Hopefully, my new friend Denise Marsa will have a successful run of her one-woman show. Strange to think she first came into my life 40 years ago as I embarked on life as a student, and here she is popping up again, second time around. We couldn’t have predicted back then just how much our lives would change because of this tool we all use daily called The Internet. A force for good (connecting us with old friends, enabling the making of new friends, giving us access to vast amounts of information and services) but also a force for bad (no need to spell it out).

Who knows how things will have evolved in another 40 years but I have a sneaking suspicion that the song Lucky Stars will still occasionally pop up on the musical airwaves of the future. I might not be around to hear it, but hopefully DD will, and she will no doubt have fond memories of her mum and dad “murdering” the song which had become their party-piece of choice. She will also remember how we always forgot the words, despite having listened to it hundreds of times, and she will smile.

Until next time….

Lucky Stars
(Song by Dean Friedman)

What are you crazy? How in the hell can you say what you just said?
I was talking to myself. Shut the door and come to bed.
By the way, I forgot to say, your endearing mother called today.
Did you see Lisa?
Yes I saw Lisa.
Is that why you’re angry?
I wasn’t angry.
Maybe a little.
Not even maybe.
Must be the weather.
Now don’t be a baby.
We’ll how am I supposed to feel with all the things you don’t reveal and
You can thank your lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we’d like to think we are.

Would you like to talk about it?
There’s not much to say.
We had lunch this afternoon. Her life’s in disarray.
She still goes around as if she is always stumbling off a cliff.
Do you still want her?
What are you saying?
Do you still want her?
Baby stop playing.
Really, I mean it. Can you forget her?
Baby, now stop it. You should know better.
I know this is hard to do. but, there’s no one for me but you and
You can thank your lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we’d like to think we are.

Baby, I’m sorry, I was wrong, I have no alibis.
I was acting like a fool and I apologize.
Listen, hon’, I know you’re dumb, but that’s ok, you don’t have to look so glum.
Do you still love me?
Yes, I still love you.
You mean, you’re not just being nice.
No, I’m not just being nice.
Do you feel sleepy.
Aw, you’re so sincere. Yes, I feel sleepy.
Well, slide over here ’cause I may not be all that bright, but I know how to hold you tight and
You can thank your lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we’d like to think we are and
You can thank your lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we’d like to think we are and
We can thank our lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we’d like to think we are.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Denise Marsa, “Lucky Stars” and Life As A Student (Second Time Around)”

    1. Hi Neil – Thanks. Sorry not had time to visit your place this week but will try and catch up when I have time.

      As for the courses, all depends how things go with my mum – Will no doubt keep you all posted here though, as can’t seem to help myself!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Glad you could come back here to keep us posted. That’s so lovely of Denise Marsa, and an excellent reminder of the beauty of blogging and how you can have contact with people you’d otherwise be unlikely to find.
    I hope the course works out well on the part-time basis, Alyson. It sounds much more manageable and worth pursuing if you can, and I believe most of these courses make allowances as ‘mitigating circumstances’ or whatever they call it when events in your personal life have to take precedence. I found the return to being a student – part-time too – in recent years to be very rewarding. I’d like to do it again if I can when I have more time (in my work no real need or desire to retire but I wouldn’t mind cutting it down a bit!) All the very best with it – and everything else too.
    PS – So right about the clones! I find myself at the polar opposite of that particular look!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Feeling bad about not having time to visit the other blogs (although managed Saturday Snapshots yesterday) so wanted to post an update to “the story”. Also at the moment my mum is in hospital, so a bit of respite, but the fear of what is going to happen if they send her home is sadly giving me sleepless nights. I thought having a new baby in the house was tough, but it turns out that it’s easy compared with this as you are in control, and in the same house!

      Also was conscious that Denise Marsa had been in touch about her show, so needed to spread the word as promised before it got too late – Still gobsmacked that all these years later she found me via my blog!

      Yes we heard all about MCs (mitigating circumstances) this week when it comes to handing in assignments etc but unfortunately I had a few MCs on the first day of the course, the second, the third and the fourth – Just wasn’t going to work was it? Really frustrated that the whole application, interview and funding process went like clockwork and everything was in place – Now all got to be unpicked and started again as I’m one of those annoying students who is doing everything after the course has actually started.

      As for the clones, so many girls are under pressure to have that look at the moment but then again there is a whole army of them who reject the look totally – Looking around the college, the youngsters there come in all shapes and sizes, hair colours and style of dress so good to see. Like you, I never was or am ever going to be, a Demi or Dua clone.


  2. Good luck with your part time course. And really nice for you to get in contact with the singer Denise Marsa!
    Thanks for sharing the duet Lucky Stars. Dean Friedman’s vocal reminds me of Thomas Mars of the band Phoenix

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Chris – I’m going to really give it my best shot but might be tough depending on how things go with my mum – we’ll see.

      Lucky Stars from an awful long time ago now but as I said above, it’s our party piece, so amazing I’ve actually made contact with the mystery singer herself, Denise Marsa.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t know about that but nice we’ve made contact through blogging.

      Yes, I too hope we’ve turned a corner as it’s been a really difficult year, but in “the system” now which I’ve long been waiting for – Got to be a crisis sadly for that to happen, and now we’ve had a crisis.

      I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get back into studying, but it’s now a year since I gave up my old job and any attempts at paid employment have failed because of my caring duties. Had worked out that going to college was the only option left, as fairly flexible, but just going to have to be part-time now. Probably for the best.


  3. Thank you once again Alyson for helping us to spread the word! It is one big journey to premiere a show in another country no less! Very excited to be back in London starting 9/20. Here’s a recent interview…with Nick Awde that I really enjoyed with some fun stuff about THE PASS and my songwriting. Best of luck with your studies and family! See you next time around! And yes to blogging, and the people we meet along the way…Best, wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well hello there Denise – I was conscious that we are now into the month of September, so the time was right to spread the word about your show at the Playground. It is a weird coincidence that my favourite song when I was about to embark on student life first time around was Lucky Stars, and now that I am about to start studying again, you popped up with news about your show. Serendipity I think and hope it means both our endeavours are going to go well.

      That’s a great interview there which I will read fully later. Reminded me I wrote a New Jersey post as part of my American Odyssey in Song series earlier this year and thought you might like to read it.

      All the very best with the show – It will be great I’m sure. Hope you also enjoy being in London again, and as you say, next time around!


    1. Thanks Rick – Coed is a term we just don’t use over here but having looked it up I now understand where it came from and if it pops up in American movies it will now make sense.

      I was super-super busy until this week but with my mum now in hospital things have changed again, thus this post. If she is sent home again life will become super-super-super busy, but I am not alone, as I’ve discovered so many other ladies of my generation in exactly the same position. Great that people are living longer but if it’s not in good health, a massive problem with finding the resources to care for them. Yet another 21st century issue for the Western World, on top of all the others.

      And of course I had to share the news about Denise Marsa’s show – Still reeling from the fact I am now on first name terms with someone whose song I have loved for the last 40 years!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely, post, Alyson. Your positivity is inspiring. Not feeling much of that myself at the moment so I’m glad to hear you’re keeping your chin up despite your ongoing family issues. As a big fan of the aforementioned Lucky Stars, I was glad to see you’d made a new blogging pal. Best of luck in FE… I hope your experiences are more positive than my own (albeit from the other side of the teacher’s desk!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure about being inspiring. Reread the above to see where you got that from as I always feel as if I’m whinging. Yes I was fairly excited about this return to FE, but as with everything else I have tried since leaving my old job (a year ago this week) I will probably be thwarted – Lets see. I do know where you are coming from however, as Mr WIAA sits on your side of the teacher’s desk for part of the week, so hear all his gripes. Not easy is it.

      Yes, would never have expected to have the mystery singer from Lucky Stars pop up in my life 40 years on from when I first embarked on student life. Then again I wouldn’t have expected many other things back then, such as our classmates Iain Glen and Nicky Campbell becoming household names, and for my flatmate’s student boyfriend to become a leading light in politics!


    1. As I said to Rol above, not sure where you’re all getting the inspiring bit from, as I always feel like a bit of a whinger. Yes, this is one of the few places I can write it all down, so quite cathartic, but don’t want to bore you all with it. Too late, he says!


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