Love, Friendship, and Everything in Between, New Edition Has a Song For That.
The one year anniversary of New Edition receiving the BET Lifetime Achievement Award in Epic fashion is the perfect time to revisit some of the aha moments, and lessons they’ve taught us.
I’m an NE 4 Lifer, but I didn’t show up to the party until 1985 or 86. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph, and Johnny of New Edition are The Temptations, The Jacksons, and The Beatles of my generation. Period, full stop don’t argue with me about this.
New Edition raised a generation of “Candy Girls“
They provided the soundtrack of our lives. We sang each hit and tried, some unsuccessfully, to recreate their intricate choreography. We’ve gone from wanting to be Candy Girls to playing Can You Stand the Rain at our weddings, to playing I’m Still In Love With You at our anniversary parties/vowel renewals to yes, playing Is This The End at divorce parties. Don’t even get me started on that madness, but yes divorce parties are a real thing.
The point is through it all New Edition has been there for us sneaking in life lessons along the way. They taught the guys how to treat the women in their lives. Girls learned the golden rule of friendship, never mess with your bestie’s man. Once someone in your squad claimed one of the guys he was off-limits forever, as in unless you have a signed note from Jesus you still better not call yourself crushing someone your friend claimed.
It turns out we were right about New Edition. They’ve grown into successful businessmen and music icons. Each one has found his own niche and gives back to the community. The lessons in their music serve as reminders to us and guides to our children and gasp your grandchildren. A few of the Candy Girls have become Candy Grannies, and our fly guys are quickly joining the Fab and 50 Club. Still, the music still thumps and the lessons still work. Celebrate Black Music Month check out these random life lessons I learned while bopping my head to New Edition.
Love lessons from New Edition
We all need love. Sometimes a little goes a long way. A Little Bit Of Love (New Edition) appeared on New Edition’s third studio album “All For Love.” Recorded and released in 1985. The lyrics suggest a complicated relationship where one party is all talk and no show. The moral of the song is that actions speak louder than words.
You don’t need to rebuild Mt. Rushmore, a small sincere effort will go a long way in showing your honey just how much they mean to you.
Finding love is only half the battle though. Once you find someone you need to make sure your relationship continues to thrive. That’s where communication and common bonds come in. Bobby and Whitney reminded everyone the importance of having Something In Common with the person you want to share your life with.
Weathering the storms of love
Once you build a foundation, you still need to show your significant other you’re all in. With You All The Way (New Edition), and (I Do Need You -Bell Biv DeVoe), reminds us we should tell people how we feel and that we’re committed to the relationship. Two of the biggest mistakes couples make in their relationships include lack of communication and playing games. Tell people how you feel and give them the option of dealing with you on those terms. If you need them, tell them. If he’s not your type or vice versa say so. I told you if it’s a relationship issue NE has a song to see you through.
After things fall into place, you might be inclined to think about making long-term moves with your honey. This step might be the most important one of all. Once you’ve found someone you think you want to be with it you need to make sure you’re both on the same page. Yep, it’s time to ask them the most important question in the NE catalog. Can You Stand the Rain? If they look confused, hem-haw around, deflect or change the subject, resist the urge to make an excuse for them and let it go. The last thing you want to is to be all in on a relationship with someone who isn’t willing to endure a mist or rain shower with you, let alone torrential rains.
If you can’t make him say My My My like Johnny Gill, you probably are not the one. Look, don’t attack the messenger. NE dedicated an entire song and apology to ladies who didn’t quite do it for them, I’m sorry You’re Not My Kind of Girl was their way of letting the girls who would never grow up to be Candy Girls down easy. In short, don’t waste your time chasing after the wrong one. Somewhere there’s a guy waiting on you to put on that red dress and your high heels. Find your one.
There’s Always a Way
After the success of the wildly popular BET mini-series about the members of New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe released Three Stripes. Find A Way was a catchy reminder to everyone to play the hand life deals you.
The theme of betting on yourself against all odds is popular with the supergroup. Amid his Sensitivity phase, Ralph also took the time to remind fans they have to make it happen against all odds. Tresvant’s Do What I Gotta Do was the third single on his debut album.
New Edition taught us when to let go
Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. It happens. Realizing that you’re in a seasonal relationship and not the love of a lifetime you were hoping for is important. When the time comes you might wonder Is This The End? Being honest with yourself in these moments is imperative to your mental health. Usually, if you pay attention, you’ll see it their eyes long before their actions tell on them. A point BBD made with their popular ballad, Something In Your Eyes.
No one likes the let’s be friends, it’s me not you, narrative. However, giving someone the Let’s Be Friends speech and parting ways while you still like and respect each other gives you the opportunity to grow. Does that mean you’ll find your way back to each other, no, but it’s always better to be friends than to deal with a bitter enemy? Honestly, who is more bitter than a jilted ex? Nobooooody in my Keith Sweat voice.
Once you’ve determined for whatever reason, the relationship is not what you want or need you to find the guts to say Count Me Out. Sometimes it’s well-meaning friends who you need to bow out on. It’s okay to take a page out of Ralph’s book and tell your friends not tonight. Relationships require balance. That may mean missing out on trips with your girls, or hanging with your boys so that your relationship has a place to thrive.
The Golden Rules
If mothers have one unifying message, it’s Don’t Be Cruel (Bobby Brown). My mother gave me the directive so often I thought it was the middle name I didn’t have. Don’t be cruel to your brother, be nice to your friends, be nice to strangers just be nice whatever happens.
Mom’s second go to was a two-parter, be a good friend, ad part 2 you need better friends. I don’t approve of these raggedy little friends of yours. Why would you want to be bothered with these Fairweather Friends of yours?
What I learned from along the way was mom and New Edition were right. I needed better friends, and being cruel isn’t an option. Another fact my dear mother pointed out during our many discussions about my ‘friends’. Translation don’t get out there acting a fool and embarrass me as if you haven’t been raised properly, but I digress.
Never Forget Where You Came From
Whether you’re selling out arenas, performing neurosurgery, teaching, or working a 9-5, stay grounded. Success can be elusive and the journey is full of setbacks and pitfalls.
If you remember why you started, and where you started, you won’t go wrong. Former First Lady Michelle Obama often references her humble beginnings on the Southside of Chicago. Her journey has to take her from The Chi, to the Ivy League, to Buckingham Palace, and to the White House but she never forgets Where it All Started (New Edition). Look if it’s good enough for Forever FLOTUS it will work for you too,
The title of this song from the Mo’ Money soundtrack says it all. The Best Things in Life Are Free (Janet Jackson/Luther Vandross/Bell Biv DeVoe/Ralph Tresvant).
Every Little Step (Bobby Brown) brings us a step closer to where we want to be in life. Go ahead, pump up the volume, but be careful we’re getting old, some of y’all are grandparents for god’s sake. Don’t mess around and twist, pull, or tear something you might need tomorrow.
Have you learned any life lessons, or had an aha moment thanks to a song from someone on the New Edition family tree? If you have, share your favorites in the comment section below. Keep it classy, though, don’t get too sassy. I don’t want to delete you, but I will.
**I do not own the images, video, or music in this post. All rights reserved by the original copyright holders. Images courtesy of Getty Images, used with permission.