Reruns from the Vault
Original airdate: September 28, 2010
Original forum:

Okay, so… did you ever have a song stuck in your head that nobody else had ever heard before? That happened to me in 2003 with an ’80s PSA called “One Dumb Move.”

I rallied the support of the internet and managed to not only prove the song was real, but also obtain a recording and a video. The earworm was slain!

In 2003, I asked the LiveJournal community if anyone remembered an ’80s PSA called “One Dumb Move.”

At first, nobody did. But, since there was no other reference to the song anywhere on the internet, my post became the number one Google hit for the hypnotic chorus: “One dumb move can blow your groove.” In time, other nomads of nostalgia arrived to add their cloudy half memories to the mix, slowly generating a fairly accurate Frankenstein version of the lyrics.

That treasure trail led me to audio, video, and some historical documents related to the PSA. In the interest of providing encyclopedic knowledge on subjects about which nobody cares, here is everything I’ve learned about “One Dumb Move.”

According to this article in the January 28, 1985 edition of The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the New York State Health Department distributed 50,000 copies of “One Dumb Move” in response to a survey showing alarmingly high alcohol, drug, and tobacco use among teenagers. If there’s one thing that gets through to drunk, stoned, tar-hacking teens, it’s the rap music. Of course, there was really only one man Governor Mario Cuomo could turn to for help: Professor of the Rap, Gary Byrd.

The May-June 1985 issue of what appears to be something called “Public Health Reports” notes that, “To combat the problems identified by the survey, the New York State Health Department has launched a statewide educational campaign that includes television public service announcements patterned after typical music video programming.” That video looked a little something like this.

That same article says that “television stations throughout the State have agreed to broadcast the spots 2,783 times,” which, considering all the TV I watched as a kid, explains why I still remember most of the lyrics even though I haven’t heard this song in twenty-five years.

Through the miracle of eBay, I finally managed to locate and acquire one of those 50,000 original Eva-tone Soundsheet flexi discs that the New York State Health Department distributed to schools in 1985. The song as recorded on super-floppy plastic is a little different than the version in the video, including two refrains of the song and one spoken-word breakdown by Gary Byrd explaining why he had to write it.

Click here to download an mp3.

Here is the record’s cover art, inside and out. Click any image for a larger version.

FrontSmall BackSmall
InRightSmall InLeftSmall

And here are the lyrics exactly as they appear on the inside of the album jacket:

One Dumb Move

I didn’t come here today
to try and tell you
about the ABC’s
or two plus two.

I’m Professor of the Rap
and I came to your school
’cause I don’t want to see you
be a fool.

One dumb move,
one dumb move
can blow your groove!

Alcohol may cause you
no alarm
until you wake up and find that
you are harmed.

You may laugh and think
cigarettes are a joke
but is it worth bad breath
and health to smoke?

And when you check out the score
in drug abuse
what you find is a game
you can only lose.

It will soon be Nineteen
Ninety-Nine and
some of you may never
use your mind.

Break, spin and rock but
do not fall
under the spell
of smoke, drugs or alcohol.

One dumb move,
one dumb move
can blow your groove!

All you got to do
is look around –
those who abused
have all gone down.

So think for yourself
and rise to the top.
When you’re fresh you know you
can’t be stopped by

And that’s everything I know about “One Dumb Move.”

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that the entire time I was preparing this report I was drinking beer.

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