The '90s Cheesiest R&B Song's Sad, Sad Story
If you've been in a grocery store lately, you've probably heard 1995's "I Believe" by Blessid Union of Souls (the "She likes me for me, not because I hang with Leonardo" guy).
On the surface, it seems like a vague "we live in a society" kind of song, with lines like "Violence is spread worldwide/And there are families on the street/And we sell drugs to children now" and the refrain of "I believe that love is the answer/I believe that love will find a way," but the third verse takes a hard left into the personal and devastating:
I've been seeing Lisa now for a little over a year
She says she's never been so happy, but Lisa lives in fear
That one day her daddy's gonna find out she's in love with a n****r from the streets
Oh, how he would lose it then, but she's still here with me
'Cause she believes that love will see it through, and one day he'll understand
And he'll see me as a person, not just a black man
That's enough to make you cry on its own, but this isn't just an allegory that folk-rock bands are fond of making up. There really is a Lisa in singer Eliot Sloan's life. So everything turned out alright, right? Sloan just believed in love so hard that he melted that racist's icy heart like some kind of social justice Care Bear? Nope. About two years into their relationship, Lisa's dad found out and threatened to cut off her college tuition, and she was forced to make the wrenching decision between love and her future. She chose the latter.
Sloan, it seems, never quite got over it. Not to speculate on the man's personal life, but it's telling that he wrote about the relationship in the present tense after it was over, and in this context, his other big hit likewise sounds a lot like wish fulfillment.
The hook is literally "She likes me for me," and it ends on the repeated refrain, "And I'm so glad I found her once again." He even included in the liner notes of the album on which "I Believe" appears, "Lisa, give me a call sometime just to say hello, my number is still the same." As of 2000, Lisa hadn't called, and there doesn't appear to be any reports since then. Lisa, if you're out there: CALL THIS MAN. THE WORLD NEEDS THIS.
Let Manna know if Lisa ever called him on Twitter.
Top image: EMI Records Ltd.