Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Freeze FrameReleased: 1981Charted:
This song is about a guy who had a crush on a sweet, innocent girl in his homeroom in high school. Years later, he's looking through a girly magazine and sees his homeroom crush as the centerfold, and it rocks his world - no longer is she the innocent girl in a fuzzy sweater that he dreamed about. Rather than being titillated, he is disappointed, as his "memory has been sold."
The J. Geils Band signed with Atlantic Records in 1970 and made a name for themselves as a great live act with a blues-based sound. "Centerfold" was a musical departure for the band - a new wave sound similar to what The Cars and The Police were doing. It was also their biggest hit, earning them a slot touring with The Rolling Stones, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and heavy rotation on the new cable network MTV with a video showing the band playing in a classroom surrounded by girls in Catholic school uniforms.
This was written by the band's keyboard player Seth Justman, who wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on the Freeze Frame album. He insists that the reason you didn't hear much synthesizer on earlier J. Geils albums is because they couldn't afford them: The band was trapped in the record company debt cycle, constantly owing money despite their success.
Freeze Frame was the band's third album with EMI; they signed with the label leaving Atlantic. In earlier years, the band chose their singles, but EMI picked "Centerfold" as the lead single and were handsomely rewarded when it went to US #1 for a startling six weeks and also helped send the album to the top spot.
This song was used in the movies Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), The Watch (2012) and Grown Ups 2 (2013). It also appeared in episodes of The King of Queens (2000), The Office (2008) and Glee (2013).