Truthfully? I caught the final 10 seconds of the song Motown Philly back in 1991, and wasn’t won over by this new group, Boyz II Men. Their debut was soon after we first heard of another group, Jodeci. Long live 90’s R&B!
Jodeci had the look most people I knew wanted. Their music surely had a great sound and feel. They sang love songs, but the kind you didn’t have to be embarrassed to listen to in public. Then I heard another song by this newer group, the one I wasn’t so impressed with. The song was already playing when I turned on the radio. This is what I heard that day:
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Once the DJ came on after the song, my first thought was, “That song did not last long enough!”
Before that day, I hadn’t yet watched Cooley High (The song is from the movie; the group’s debut album’s namesake is that movie, too). After that day, I was a Boyz II Men fan. I still am. No group can sing like they do. To me, that was their song, and since that day it has always been one of my favorites because of the amazing harmony.
Of course, the years have given me other reasons to appreciate that song because music and life often collide.
Thank God there are gifted people able to seal our experiences in words and music. Whether it’s music from church, childhood or even the club, many of us have songs and music that become anthems for our lives or help us communicate life better than we could hope to do with our own words. I’ve come to appreciate more and find great comfort in knowing that others share similar experiences as me. Yes, it was a shock to learn that my life isn’t all that unique. Life happens to everyone.
All that is to say that I’ve learned to listen to music differently. I’m not just listening for my jam any more.
I know how to listen to the emotion of music now: pain, joy, anger, frustration, hope, awe, confusion. And I’ve learned to let what I hear from music guide how I pray. If I’m listening to music that speaks to hurt, I pray for people I know who are hurting. If I can’t get that Happy Song out of my head, I thank God for the things in my life that make me happy–that’s also about the best thing you can do to deal with as many times as that song has been played. Even Motown Philly is a song about how a group of young men got together and starting making music for the world to hear. And I can thank God for people making music.
Back in 1991 I never could have imagined how this song would touch my heart today.
I’ve been listening to that song a lot lately. So, I’m thinking of people who have lost loved ones. Indeed, it is truly hard to say goodbye to yesterday. Stay blessed…john