Monday, June 07, 2010

Music Video Monday: Tevin Campbell (and Bonus)

Today's Music Video Monday has two selections, to commemorate two important anniversaries. The first is "Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)" by producer Quincy Jones featuring the vocals of Tevin Campbell. This song was the official class song of Clarkston High School Class of 1990. When we voted on the class song, the selections were lame (one of them was an oldie: James Taylor "You Got a Friend", which is a song I like but I felt that our class song should be one that was released during our Senior year and best represents us). I had not heard "Tomorrow" and thought it was a remake of the annoying song from the musical Annie! So I wrote in my choice: Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" because of its positive message and that it was released during our senior year. I had wanted Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" to be our class song, but I just couldn't see our choir singing this complicated song during our commencement ceremony.

My high school was racially split quite evenly: 40% caucasian, 40% African American, 20% Asian (mostly from Vietnam, South Korea, and India). Because of this split, the African American students actually had a solid voting block, thus my theory on how Quincy Jones / Tevin Campbell's song won. When I heard it at the ceremony, I was impressed. It was a great selection. I probably would have voted for it if I had heard it before the vote. It was a new single, though, and got radioplay that summer. Its a hopeful song with perfect lyrics for a graduating class. Certainly a lot better than Wilson Phillips' anti-suicide song (as far as being an official class song). Now, anytime I hear "Tomorrow (A Better You, A Better Me)", I automatically associate it with my graduation. It is locked in my memory as our class' theme song.

The second video is a bonus, because on this day twenty years ago, I woke up after last night's graduation and reception at my parents house and had no idea what to do with myself. So I went out with some of my graduation money to the nearest bookstore and music store. At the Sound Warehouse was a money back guarantee promo of Johnny Clegg and Savuka's new album, Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World. I took a chance on this $5.99 investment, went home to listen to it, and was blown away. I had never heard anything so exotic and addictive in my life. I became a huge fan of Johnny Clegg on that first listen, and spent much of the early 1990s scouring music stores in France, Italy, and South Africa to complete my Johnny Clegg music collection (I have every single CD, except the ultra-rare solo Third World Child that came out before his Third World Child album with Savuka). Anyone who was my friend or became a friend of mine in the 1990s knows me best as a huge Johnny Clegg fan. I played their music OFTEN...annoying shipmates, friends, college roommates, and fellow Washington Seminar interns.

This music video is interesting, and any music video that features cartoon penguins is a winner in my book (I love the scene where the penguins are waiting in line for their "tuxedos"). The title song was part of what got me hooked on Johnny Clegg's music. The album is my favourite of all time. I'll certainly be listening to it at least once today. My favourite song on the album, as well as my favourite Johnny Clegg song, is "Woman Be My Country." I've never heard him sing this song in any of the four concerts I've attended over the years (1990, 1994, 1996, and 2004). I consider this song to be my personal anthem. I even titled my unpublished novel about the Navy from a lyric in this beautiful ballad ("So many seasons of silent war..."). In the past decade, he has only released two albums and one remix of his Juluka classics. Though he's still my favourite singer/songwriter, U2 has eclipsed Savuka (which disbanded in 1994) and Juluka (which disbanded in 1985 and reformed in 1996) as my favourite band. Johnny Clegg now releases albums under his name and his concerts are billed as "The Johnny Clegg Band."

I hope that there is another album coming out soon. I really liked his last one, which was released in 2006. He also celebrates his birthday today. Happy 57th Birthday, Johnny!

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