On our way home from FOREVER FAR ICE CREAM on my birthday (a/k/a Forbush’s), I fell down a 1980s girl-pop rabbit hole, as previously mentioned. I was peeping the related artists for either Stacey Q or Lisa Lisa, who can remember, when I stumbled across a name that my heart swell.
If you were friends with me in high school and are reading this right now, you’re probably starting to twitch, recalling the aural trauma you endured every time you got in a car with me and I popped in my mix tape of a radio-requested “Because I Love You,” not just once but 8 different radio recordings, all starting with my angelic voice manically blurting out, “This is Susie….from Clairton….” like anyone from school would have honestly been listening to Lite FM, but you never know, so I always used an alias. Usually the recordings would get cut off, or I would miss the beginning. But that tape was all I had.
I can’t even remember how it started – summer before junior year, probably. I just happened to hear it once on the radio (Spanish One Hit Wonder night?). My heart skipped a beat and my inherent obsessiveness sunk its claws into me and demanded me to grind this song into the ground.
The problem — or challenge — of the 90s was that you couldn’t just hop online and download a song. I had to physically walk into a record store and look for a Stevie B. CD. Maybe you’re shocked, but none of the local record stores carried it, nor did they even know who the fuck Stevie B. even was.
According to Wiki, Stevie B. was influential in the Hi-NRG dance music scene in the late 80s, so go fuck yourself National Record Mart, and probably Camelot, too. AND MUSIC OASIS.
I was going to have to be content with my mixtape full of radio recordings, I thought. Until I mentioned it one day to my Aunt Sharon.
The thing you need to know about my Aunt Sharon is that she was relentless when it came to obtaining something. She loved writing letters to companies, making calls to customer service hotlines, and in this case, flipping through the Yellow Pages and calling every last record store in Pittsburgh, until she was finally able to get one of them to order my Stevie B Holy Grail.
All the other things she could have been doing, but she stopped everything until she made damn well sure that I was going to have a motherfucking Stevie B CD to play a million times on repeat.
That story has a much happier ending than the time Sharon went to the mall to buy me Da Brat’s debut CD only to refuse after discovering it had A PARENTAL ADVISORY sticker on it. (My mom ended up buying it for me later because let’s be real, she didn’t give a shit about that.)
I found “Because I Love You” on Spotify that day, because it’s 2016 and if you can’t find something on the Internet then it probably only existed in your dreams. OR THE GOVT IS HIDING IT FROM YOU.
With much anticipation from Henry and Chooch, I pushed play; even with a large nostalgia cloud to the head, I still couldn’t help but notice that something about it was off.
“Like right there, when he says ‘Come on in’ — he’s adding a syllable to it and THAT’S NOT IN THE RADIO EDIT!” I cried. And then toward the end, he swaps out an “I” for a “STEVIE B.”
What the hell.
“This is all wrong,” I said with panicked desperation, scrolling through Spotify in search of the actual album version and not all these “REMASTERED” bastardized versions of the original classic.
“Ugh, they all sound the same!” Chooch groaned from the backseat after I played the third one.
“NO, THERE’S A VERY DISTINCT DIFFERENCE AND I CAN’T LIKE THESE MODERN VERSIONS, I NEED THE 1990 MASTERPIECE,” I angrily yelled, turning to YouTube for assistance. Go home, Spotify.
And of course YouTube pulled through for me.
“Do you hear the difference!?” I shouted.
“Nope,” Henry mumbled, praying that this Stevie B marathon would not surpass 4 plays.
Oh my heart soared! Hearing this song again, remembering the time I serenaded everyone in the parking lot of Dell’s Ice Cream in Munhall on a humid summer night, remembering Sharon giving me the actual CD after it arrived in the mail, remembering the excitement of getting my hands on something so elusive—it was bittersweet.
And it also inspired me to full-body pantomime my emotions along with all the good parts while Henry was “TRYING TO DRIVE!!!!”
I’m positive I thanked you for this back in 1996, but hey Sharon? If you’re reading this, thanks again. <3