“By someone you thought was really cool?” – Jody Watley
I remember how every May brought the anticipation of the end of another school year, and the beginning of summer. I have a daughter who is a junior in high school now, and I was curious about one timeless end of school year tradition the other day. On my way to drop her off at school, I asked her if they still sell yearbooks at school. She said yes. I followed up by asking if kids still sign them for each other, and she replied affirmatively even saying that they have a “yearbook party” at the end of the school year. Apparently all of the students eligible to attend the party (my daughter thought you had to have at least a 2.0 GPA to attend) gather in the gym one afternoon during the last week of school and sign yearbooks for each other.
I remember how exciting, yet scary it could be when it came to yearbook signing. Do I dare ask that person? Will they ask me so I don’t have to ask them first? It was intimidating for an introvert like myself to go ask one of “the cool kids” or one of “the pretty girls” to sign my yearbook. And then if they did sign my yearbook, what would they say? If I had to sign theirs, what would I say? “You’re cool. Have a great summer. Glad we had class together. See you next year. Hope we have classes together next year.” Lame. Lame. Lame! Oh the pressure of the yearbook signing! I’m sure I would be horrified by some of the things I wrote 30-35 years ago. I have no clue what I wrote to other people, but I know one year I signed many of them “Your friend and mine, Kyle Kerwin.” Insert slapping my forehead emoji right here.
Surely yearbook signing anxiety is a thing, right? Can one see a therapist for this? I just remember that you had to be either witty, or sincere and nice (without sounding creepy). The really good signers could do both. Signing a yearbook that can still make that person smile all these years later is a resume’ worthy skill in my opinion!
“Smiles they hide behind. Never know what’s on their mind.”
I read through many of my friends’ messages in my old yearbooks the other day. I made it easy for a lot of people because they knew me as a good basketball player so they could always write how awesome I was at basketball or encourage me to “keep up the hard work!” “I know I’ll see you in the pros ones day!” Lol. There were funny ones and nice ones, and messages from people I don’t even remember now. What do kids today sign? ‘Your Facebook profile picture is awesome.’ No. Kids aren’t even on Facebook. How about ‘Your Instagram photos are on point!’ or ‘Your Twitter feed is lit!’ Maybe it’s ‘I’ll check you out on Snapchat,’ or ‘Text me this summer (heart emoji, smiley emoji, peace emoji)!’
Whatever it is these days I still love that I have these little thoughts frozen in time on paper from the people I grew up with.
Some of my “friends” from 8th and 9th grade in 1985 and 1986…
Some of my high school friends from 1988 & 1989…
“Friends are hard to find. Friends, yours and mine
I’m talkin’ ’bout your friends”
By the time today’s featured song and video was released in April of 1989 I was about a month away from graduating high school with my friends. Also during this time, Chicago-born Jody Watley was killing it. She was the god-daughter of the late, great Jackie Wilson, and got her start in the entertainment business as a dancer on the TV show “Soul Train.”
She was an original member of the band Shalamar from 1977-1983 before embarking on her successful solo career that saw her garner a Grammy in 1988 for Best New Artist. This song would be the seventh of eight straight singles to appear in the top 10 of either the Billboard Hot 100, the U.S. R&B charts, and/or the U.S. Dance charts between 1987-1989.
During this time in the late 80’s, it was also becoming common for R&B singers to include rappers in the extended versions of their songs. Many times the rap parts would be edited out for Top 40 radio and you would never know they existed. Who was cooler back in the 80’s rap game moreso than the duo of Eric B & Rakim. There’s no question mark because that’s a rhetorical question. The answer is nobody! The fact that the “Paid in Full” duo lent their talents to a Jody Watley jam upped her street cred in my books, and not the other way around. This song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989.
Here is the extended remix featuring the musical rap stylings of MC Rakim and his DJ, Eric B, who happened to be back on tour this spring for the first time in 25 years.
I wish Eric B. & Rakim and Jody Watley were my “Friends,” because I’d let them sign my yearbook, and then I’d retroactively be the coolest NHS Tiger class of 1989.
Thanks for reading.