Flash Light

Album: Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome (1978)
Charted: 16


  • This funk classic was originally recorded for Parliament bass player Bootsy Collins' spin-off band, Bootsy's Rubber Band. It was intended for their first album, but ended up going to Parliament, where it became the group's first #1 R&B hit and one of their most popular tracks.
  • The chant in the song: "ha-da-dadee-da da-da hava da da," is based on a Jewish Bar Mitzvah chant.
  • In the P-Funk universe, Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk is a character who, as the name implies, is devoid of funk. He's too cool for school, and won't dance, putting him at odds with Starchild (George Clinton). Based on the 1977 Bootsy's Rubber Band track "The Pinocchio Theory," where Bootsy asserts, "Don't fake the funk or your nose will grow," Sir Nose shows up earlier in the Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome album on the track "Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk (Pay Attention – B3M)." In "Flash Light," Starchild helps him find the funk, and finally, he dances.
  • In the '70s, Clinton and other members of the crew would wield giant flashlights when they performed this song, aiming them at Sir Nose (originally played by Larry Heckstall) until he found the funk. The crowd started bringing their own flashlights to the shows, so the band started selling them at the venues.

    Sir Nose was later played by Carlos McMurray, who introduced the fuzzy pants, enormous hat, and acrobatic dance moves.
  • Keyboardist Bernie Worrell provided the bass line after figuring out how to stack bass tones on his Moog synthesizer.
  • Many movies have used this song over the years. Among them:

    Set It Off (1996)
    How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
    Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
    How High (2001)
    The Cookout (2004)
    Roll Bounce (2005)
    The Heat (2013)
    Straight Outta Compton (2015)
    McFarland, USA (2015)
    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

    TV series to use the song include:

    Everybody Hates Chris ("Everybody Hates Father's Day" - 2006)
    Scandal ("Snake in the Garden" - 2013)
    Ray Donovan ("Walk This Way" - 2014)

Comments: 8

  • Simon from Atlanta, GaThis song was about shining a light on the fact that we were all equal (thus all of the different religious references), and at the same time, exposing the fake people. Yes, I agree, we do need more Parliament songs on here.
  • John from Nashville, TnThe second of two gold records for Parliament (the first being "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker").
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhWe need more Parliament songs on here, by the way.
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhEdward Pierce is the man...he seems to know all the info.
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhFree your mind and your ass will follow...
  • Dave from Long Branch, NjGreat song for those funkateers that followed the MOB!
  • Alan from Silver Lake, Ks1978 . . . senior in high school . . . shy . . . was too self-conscious to dance . . . BUT, this song got my body moving . . . and, like that, I came out of my shell. It helped me, 'find the funk!'
  • David from Youngstown, OhAs an 11-year-old studying for his Bar Mitzvah two years down the road, my grandfather who was in his 60s at the time and had no interest in pop music, particularly a group as funky as Parliament, loved this song. That was because of the Jewish chant. He's been dead for 13 years but everytime I hear this song, I think of him.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Grateful Dead Characters

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?

John Lee Hooker

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.

Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne

Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of WayneSongwriter Interviews

The guy who brought us "Stacy's Mom" also wrote the Jane Lynch Emmy song and Stephen Colbert's Christmas songs.

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New York

Janis Ian: Married in London, but not in New YorkSong Writing

Can you be married in one country but not another? Only if you're part of a gay couple. One of the first famous singers to come out as a lesbian, Janis wrote a song about it.


SugarlandSongwriter Interviews

Meet the "sassy basket" with the biggest voice in country music.

Steely Dan

Steely DanFact or Fiction

Did they really trade their guitarist to The Doobie Brothers? Are they named after something naughty? And what's up with the band name?