It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

Album: Cooleyhighharmony (1991)
Charted: 2
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Songfacts®:

  • "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" is not a Boyz II Men original. The song was written for the 1975 movie Cooley High, which is about a predominately black high school. In the film, it's used to reflect the powerful emotions many students feel when high school ends and they must move on. The feelings described in the song, though, can apply to anyone who must leave something behind, making it a popular song for funerals.

    The original version used in the movie was sung by G.C. Cameron, who was a member of The Spinners before the group left Motown records and he stayed with the label as a solo artist. This 1975 version hit #35 in the US, but the song is far better known for the Boyz II Men cover, which went to #2 in 1991.
  • G.C. Cameron's original has a lush arrangement with strings and piano, but the Boyz II Men version is a cappella, proving they could carry a song without any production tricks. This set them apart from boy bands like New Kids On The Block and competing vocal groups like Color Me Badd.
  • This was written by the Motown producer and songwriter Freddie Perren and his wife, Christine Yarian. Perren co-wrote many hits of the '60s and '70s, including "ABC," "I Will Survive" and "More Than A Woman."
  • Boyz II Men were signed to Motown Records, and Cooleyhighharmony, which was named after the movie Cooley High, was their first album. The group met at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, and their a cappella recording of this song helped establish them as a classic vocal group similar to the doo-wop groups of the '50s that often started singing in high school.

    It was their second single, following "Motownphilly," which introduced Boyz II Men as a Philadelphia group with a classic Motown sound and included an interlude by Michael Bivens where he described the origins of the band. The marketing was authentic, and it worked: The group became one of the biggest acts of the '90s and established themselves as one of the top vocal groups of all time. They quickly became more famous than their mentor Michael Bivens, who was a member of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe.
  • The song spent four weeks at #2 in America, held from the top spot by Michael Jackson's "Black Or White." But unlike some groups that came this close but never reached the top (Creedence Clearwater Revival, for instance), Boyz II Men camped out at #1 for much of 1992 when their next single, "End of the Road," spent 13 weeks at the top, an absurd run that they surpassed in 1994 with "I'll Make Love To You," which stayed for 14 weeks.
  • In America, this is the second-biggest a cappella hit of all-time, behind Bobby McFerrin's 1988 #1, Don't Worry Be Happy." According to the group, they had to push Motown to release the song as a single because the label didn't think radio stations would play it.
  • Boyz II Men dedicated performances of this song to their tour manager, Khalil Roundtree, after he was murdered in Chicago when the band was on tour with MC Hammer in 1992.
  • This was produced by Dallas Austin, a Philadelphia-born record producer based out of Atlanta. He would go on to produce hits for TLC, Pink, Gwen Stefani, and Madonna, among others.
  • This was used in the funeral scene of the 1992 movie Lethal Weapon 3. It also appears in these films:

    House Party 2 (1991)
    The Fighting Temptations (2003)
    Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)
    Long Shot (2019)

    TV shows to use the song include:
    Psych ("High Top Fade Out" - 2009)
    Family Guy ("Dog Bites Bear" - 2018, sung by Stewie and Brian)
    Big Mouth ("Am I Normal?" - 2018)
  • At the Grammy Awards in 2020, Boyz II Men performed this with host Alicia Keys in tribute to basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died earlier that day in a helicopter crash. The ceremony was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Bryant played for the Lakers. His retired numbers in the rafters were spotlighted during the proceedings.

Comments: 3

  • Warm from PhillyABC BBD, cooley high, went there for 10th grade, was very chill, we played sports outside and did class work in doors, not like todays kids all pampered with air conditioning and showers, but we loved it, Motown philly sound, 123 BBD, can anyone think of what was better in 1992 then these guys singing, other than like a chalupa or something like that these guys made music, was great to see them inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2020, they lead the way for Dr Dre and the west coast sound of Tu Pac, rest in piece
  • Kenny from Cleveland OhioIt' not used in Cooley High about the sadness of High School ending. Boyz II Men also made several mistakes in the lyrics in their re-make.
  • David from Lewis, Ksthey played this for my friend when he was being buried. kinda comforting and relateable....RIP CORY JOSEPH REYNOLDS
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