There are so many Teena Marie songs that I love, that any of her great ballads could go up for #RomanticTuesday. “If I Were A Bell,” “Casanova Brown,” “Dear Lover,” “Young Love,” “Out On A Limb”….the list goes on and on. However, today’s song is a special one to me for a couple of reasons. One, it was one of the first albums I found by this artist at the college bookstore, and two, once I heard the song for the first time, I was blown away.
Today’s romantic song is “Now That I Have You.”
Mary Christine Brockert, known professionally as Teena Marie, had been singing at Motown for a couple years before her first album was released in 1979. Wild And Peaceful featured her first top ten R&B hit, “I’m Just A Sucker For Your Love,” a duet with her producer and sometime romantic partner Rick James. In a twist from the 1960’s when many of the label’s artists released albums without their pictures on the cover, Teena’s debut did not feature her face on either the cover or any of the packaging. Given her airplay on many R&B radio stations, listeners and fans assumed that she was black. Once she appeared on Soul Train with James singing her first hit, the game was given away.
Lady T, the album that contains today’s song, represented a few changes for the singer. First, because Rick James wasn’t available, and she wasn’t comfortable producing herself, she chose Richard Rudolph to produce the album. If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you, he was the husband of the late singer Minnie Riperton (“Lovin’ You,” or “Memory Lane” for soul fans of the ’70s). He is also the father of former Saturday Night Live cast member Maya Rudolph (Riperton is her mother). Second, her face was on the album cover (which you can see in the above video).
I have read that today’s song was being saved for Riperton by her husband (he co-wrote it with Art Phillips and Claudia Talbott), but gave it to Teena after Riperton died from breast cancer a few months before. If you’ve ever listened to the album, the opening song is the dance-funk song “Behind The Groove,” and then this song follows right behind. When I first heard it, my mouth just dropped open. It was such a moment; you could almost hear Minnie Riperton singing on this one. Teena sings about a love that is so all-encompassing, that “nothing seems to matter anymore.” For me, it is one of her greatest ballads.
I hope you enjoy “Now That I Have You” and the amazing wonder that was Teena Marie. As always, thanks for reading and listening.