On January 29, we lost soulful music legend James Ingram. He was a grammy award winning singer, songwriter, and producer that has worked with many music greats from Ray Charles to Quincy Jones. As soon as I heard that he passed, I sent my husband a message via Facebook, reminding him of why one of his most popular songs was so important to us…
Short story long, let’s travel back to Brooklyn 1980 something. At night my sister Stacey and I used to listen to R&B classics on the radio. The D.J. played “Just Once” multiple times, every night. We hated the song. Ugh! that boring piano intro… We didn’t have fast forward options like we do now on streaming sites so we had to sit through it. Eventually the song grew on us. One night I sat there and listened to the words. It began:
“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”
My sister and I debated the lyrics. Him and his love can’t get it together. They tried everything. Should they break up? Should they try again? They mean alot to each other but shit’s not working. All of a sudden that piano intro became one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. We soon became James’ backup singers. Every time we heard the song we would encourage James to keep trying. Oh, the memories. Anyway one summer we would go to my grandmother’s house in the Catskills. We loved it there. It was a chance for us city girls to enjoy the great outdoors upstate and… she had cable.
If you had HBO in the 80’s holla at me.
Anyway, HBO had a new movie on every weekend. I was bored at home one night, so I turned on the tv and watched this 80’s teen comedy called “The Last American Virgin”. Who knew? It was the raunchiest movie my preteen eyes had ever seen. I missed alot of the sex scenes because I spent most of the movie looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was coming. This movie was teen hormones on steroids. Now if you like 80’s music, this film has one of the best 80’s soundtracks. My sister was elsewhere, but boy I coudn’t wait to tell her about this movie.
Most of the 80’s teen comedies were about sex, drugs, and nonsense. Usually a hot girl and not-so-hot guy. This movie fit into that mold. However, the not-so-hot guy was infatuated with the hot and seemingly nice new girl. I’m talking head over heels. This story has a twist to it at the end that will piss you off. A twist that involved guess what? Our favorite song. When I heard that piano rift, I was done. I immediately started crying because I knew how it was going to end. Where were cell phones then? I needed to text all my friends so we could talk about this movie. I was highly upset. Like, the ending of this movie could only be justified by turning the main character into a killer in a revenge slasher flick.
The Last American Virgin- Cannon/MGM
Grrrr! So anyway…fast forward a few years later. I’m at my after school job at a local market, and I’m explaining the movie to one of my co-workers. She claims she never saw the movie. As a matter of fact, most people I would describe this movie to, had no idea what I was talking about. I mean what planet did they live on? Anyway, out of nowhere the new stock boy at my job walks over to us;
“I saw that movie, it was messed up.”
Hello! finally someone from my planet. Me and new stockboy immediately started talking about the movie in detail. We talked about how great the soundtrack was. When we discussed the final scene he said “yeh, that song was the nail in the coffin.” I agreed. That song was the salt in the wound of that moment. New stockboy got me. We were eye to eye on this. A few more conversations led to one of our first tv watching dates. Guess what we rented? The rest is history.
We were VHS and Chill.
~James Ingram…I salute you for your contribution to music and all of the wonderful memories created by it. May you rest in peace.