Thursday, June 18, 2009

Teena Marie : Deja Vu (I've Been Here Before)

Clifton Harris lives in New Orleans and blogs at Cliff writes about music and living in New Orleans, and perfectly captures the impact of politics and social policy on the daily life of the individual. I’m excited about his contributions to Just A Song and look forward to many more. -Citizen K.

SONG Déjà vu (I’ve Been Here Before)



APPEARS ON Wild and Peaceful (1979)

I wanted to make my first entry to this blog a Teena Marie song for a few reasons. One of the reasons is I think she is the most underrated soul singer in the last 30 years. Another reason is that she has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. I went back and forth with a few different selections but decided to go with Déjà Vu (I’ve Been Here Before). The song is from her debut album Wild and Peaceful on the Motown label in 1979. It was written and composed by Rick James. That’s a fact that proves sometimes a person’s behavior isn’t a full indication of their talent. There’s a story about this album that shows how the world has changed in 30 years. When Motown released this album in 1979 they purposely left her face off of the cover out of fear that black listeners would discriminate against her. Now she’s arguably the standard for blue eyed soul and no one pays attention to her skin color.

One of the characteristics of a Teena Marie ballad is that the lyrics are written like poems and sometimes you don’t always know what she’s trying to say. Her gift is that she sings in a way that draws you into the song and everything she says make sense. The lyrics to this song are mystical and spiritual and she takes you on a journey to a mental place that most people have probably been in their own thoughts from time to time. It’s that space in your mind that tells you there is so much more to the universe than what we can see. It’s like those moments when you catch someone daydreaming and can tell wherever they are is special. That’s what the words of this song do for me.

I love the song because unlike most ballads it doesn’t take you to a place of lost love or a personal reference to anyone. The lyrics are an escape and it makes me want to take a long ride through the city at night just to enjoy the moonlight. It’s also a great song for sitting by a lake and watching the waves just to get your mind off of reality for a few minutes. I can tell you that living in this post disaster environment there are times where mental escape is a necessity for those of us who try not to give in to the insanity. With a song like Déjà vu you can close your eyes and accomplish that.

I Am Young And I Am Old
I Am Rich And I Am Poor
I Feel Like I've Been On This Earth Many Times Before
Once I Was A White Gazelle On Horseback Riding Free
Searching In The Darkness For A Piece Of Me.

I Can Feel This For Sure.
I've Been Here Before.
I Can Feel This For Sure, For Sure, For Sure. I've Been Here Before.
I Used To Be A Queen You Know

On An Island By The Sea
With Rainbow Coloured People, Hah!
Happy As Can Be
We Never Had A Problem
There Never Was A Care
The Love Was Everflowing And It's Feeling Shared

And I Can Feel This for Sure……….
Yes I Have
I Can Feel It
In My Heart I Feel It!
I Can Feel It
My Soul Feels Like the Universe
The Baskin Never Ends
The Stars To Me Are Children
The Babies Are My Friends
My Heart Is Like A Galaxy
Within My Spirit Flys
I've Felt This Way A Million Times
Please Don't Ask Me Why
The Question Of My Lifetime
And That's My Point Of View
They Say It All Was Karma

Call It Deja Vu/ Call It Deja Vu
Call It Deja Vu/ Call It Deja Vu
Call It Deja Vu

And I Can Feel This For Sure………..
If Hate Is On Your Mind And U Can't Give Love in Kind
If Anger Is Your Friend
Don't U Know When U Die You Will Come Back Again
In The Master's Plan, You Will Come Back Woman Or Man.
If Your Life Is Full Of Sin,
Don't U Know When U Die U Will Come Back Again!

I Thank God! I Thank God! I Thank God!
I Am Not Coming Back No More!!
I've Been Here Before.
I Thank God! I Thank God! I Thank God! (I Don't Want To Come Back No More!)


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  4. Wow...this was absolutely beautiful. I loved it. It was completely knew to me and I know little of her, but love her sound. I had the same response as you... how wonderful it was to hear one of these sweeping, soulful ballads that was not about waiting for the phone to ring or how you are my whole world. :) It was like new age gospel... before its time. :)

    thank you K.! I am adding this to my favorites.

  5. Rene: Your comment is right on, but I want to give credit where it's due. Your accolade belongs to Cliff Harris, who contributes here at my request. I urge you to check in on Cliff's excellent daily blog, Cliff's Crib.

  6. Thanks for posting this! Teena is one of my all-time faves... and yes, she is soooo underrated. "Deja Vu" is a song that I can really relate to.

  7. i love this song !!!!!!!!!!!! teena marie is VERY underated. She is a real diva!


  9. What a beautiful tribute. One of the best songs of all time. "Portuguese Love" is another one of those poetic, timeless songs that is classic Teena Marie. "Square Biz," "Young Love," "Out on a Limb"...SO many classic soul songs! She's one of those artists that brings SO much to a song. I feel such a loss from her passing.

  10. RIP LADY T now you truly are a white gazelle on horseback riding free, RIP Teena Mare R and B legend.
    Dallas Belser

  11. A true original and trailblazer. She was a gifted vocalist and the consummate professional. This is one of her best -- not because it was her most "popular", but because it really reflects who she is and her view of the world.

    Her passing is a great loss to the music community, her fans and anyone who loves authentic real music.

  12. I did not appreciate her until after her death. She was truly talented and most definitely underrated. RIP Soul Lady.