As the Philadelphia Eagles head to the Super Bowl this Sunday night, it seems as appropriate a time as ever to flash back to a rare intersection of local football and local music. And no, it doesn’t involve former Eagle Connor Barwin.
“Buddy’s Watchin’ You” was a single produced by the late Philly legend Bunny Sigler and co-written with Eugene “LambChop” Curry, featuring the lineup of the Eagles trading rhymes, cypher-style, in a very late-80s take on pop-crossover hip-hop. This isn’t the blown-out boomboxes of Run D.M.C. or the slick cuts of Erik B and Rakim, it’s more akin to a midtempo jam infused with a touch of Philly soul on the chorus thanks to vocalists Songi Newman and Kia Hughes — and Bunny, no doubt. Imagine the hits from Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel (or Warren G.’s “Regulate,” done several years early) but not as polished, and with lyrics centered solely on the specific things football players do on the field, delivered in varying degrees of quality.
Which, that’s not to totally knock this gem. I kind of love listening to it, it takes me back to school bus rides in the fall and winter of 1988 with Q102 or Eagle 106 on the radio; the hook, with its reference to coach Buddy Ryan, goes on for days. The song was recorded on November 15, 1988, at Kajem Victory Studios; it reportedly was a charity single, but the details on what charity it benefited seem to be lost to the annals of time.
Last fall, to mark the opening of the Eagles season — and the 29th anniversary of the song — the folks over at Philly Voice sat down with Chill Moody to unpack the song. Though he was only three years old at the time of its release, and rediscovered the video later as an aspiring young rapper, Chill does have a faint impression of seeing it the first time around:
What I just remember most – is a lot of the old heads around my way, my uncles, a couple of my older cousins, they dressed like Randall [Cunningham] and like how Reggie White was dressed in this video. So it just looked liked them singing karaoke. I vividly remember this.
Not entirely inaccurate. From there, Chill and Voice scribe Matt Mullin break down the song verse by verse, and it makes for some seriously entertaining reading. Jerome Brown makes a strong entrance at the top of the song; Randall Cunningham’s bars are kind of wack (as is his Flava Flav-esque “Yeah boy!” in Keith Jackson’s verse) ; Mike Quick sounds poised and confident, Luis Zendejas less so; the late Reggie White is commanding and memorable, and so on.
Watch a 1988 documentary on the recording of “Buddy’s Watchin’ You” produced by West Coast Video (for the old heads, it features Eagle 106’s Welch and Woody…YIKES). The song begins at 11:52, the dance moves begin at 17:59.