Des’ree is another of those one-hit wonders from the 90s that I’m so fascinated with (although the ultimate one-hit wonder of the 90s is, and always will be, Goddess.) Again, she’s a one-hit wonder in the U.S., so don’t give me grief over the fact that she had other hits in the U.K. But if you’re gonna be a one-hit wonder, you could do a lot worse than “You Gotta Be.” This song was ubiquitous in 1994 and for good reason – it’s catchy as hell and still sounds fantastic today almost 20 years later. But I think the reason I have such a soft spot for “You Gotta Be” is because it makes me think of pharmacy school in the early to mid-90s and specifically, my roommates during two years of that time.
Kim was a friend of mine from way back – we went to Sunday School together as kids and graduated from high school the same year. When I showed up to the University of Iowa in the fall of 1992 not knowing a soul, Kim befriended me right away, introducing me to a lot of people. One of the people she introduced me to was Rick, who was her current roommate along with another girl whose name I can’t recall. Rick and I became friends as well, a friendship that benefited from the fact that we were all in pharmacy school together and as a class, we spent what seemed like every waking hour with each other. The first year I was at Iowa, I lived in the dorms – a single room in the Quad. As the year progressed, I got more and more of an itch to move out of the dorm (although I loved having a single room.) Rick and Kim asked me if I wanted to live with them and after convincing my folks that doing so was a good idea, I took the leap.
I remember so many little details of those years – midnight runs to Taco Bell with Rick, eagerly anticipating the new episode of Melrose Place and ER, marathon study sessions in the Quad lounge with soft chairs you could push together to make a “bathtub.” Pagliai’s Pizza and Freshens Yogurt. Cup Night at RTs and hot wings as only The Vine can do them. Aztec Chicken soup at Bruegger’s. The list really goes on and on. Rick tried and tried to turn me into a sports fan, but I was pretty much a lost cause. He should have known better since I was constantly referring to the sports section of The Daily Iowan as “the crossword section.” But one of the things I remember most is that Kim loved her dance music – mostly Eurodance and other songs in that vein. I don’t really remember any of the songs specifically – although if I could go back in time I’d probably be surprised at how many of them are now in my own iTunes library. They all seemed a little generic to me so I never got that into it until many years later when listening to those songs caused some major nostalgia. But you could always count on the beats per minute to be in the hundreds when you got in Kim’s car.
“You Gotta Be” was a bit of a departure for her, but I can’t deny its appeal. An uplifting message tied to a great melody and delivery is the recipe for success. Kim discovered it before either of us – and she turned to me to identify the song and artist since I was able to name so many songs off the top of my head. For the longest time, I was stymied because I was trying to find a song called “Love Will Save The Day” (Whitney has that song totally taken care of), and not “You Gotta Be.” But once we identified it, it didn’t take her long to acquire the song – although whether it was a single or the I Ain’t Movin’ album, I really can’t remember.
We didn’t always see eye to eye – you can’t live with someone and expect it to always be sunshine and lollipops. But when we eventually went our separate ways a few years later, I was sad because, for better or for worse, they were two of the best friends I had in college. I can imagine that I wasn’t always easy to deal with – I see that so crystal clear in hindsight. My depression and anxiety were at their absolute worst then and I worked very hard to keep people from seeing that. It’s a shame that we haven’t seen each other in at least 15 years now. I’m sure we have all changed in many ways (except Rick drank from the fountain of youth and has not aged a single day since 1995.) I can’t believe that I have virtually no photos from that time period. Travesty.
For me, “You Gotta Be” will always be a song that makes me feel good. And it will always make me think of my two college roommates.