It’s only been a couple of months since my brother Rustin Riggs passed away. While BYU football and sports were his top passion, music was next in line for Rusty. It was a close second. He loved a genre of music called “New Jack Swing.” This was an R & B sound who had it’s hey day was from 1986 to 1995. He took his music seriously. He created deep thoughts about music he loved. He broke it down, organized it, and ranked things in order of how much he liked them. Rusty followed these bands well after their retirements. He had a sincere desire to know how all of these people were doing in life. He always kept me informed. I’ve noticed as I mourn his loss I’m thinking about his music initially more than his sports. He influenced that large branch of music I love as well. This music listed represents his softer side and is mostly over one era of time. He also liked Sublime, The Chili Peppers, and 3-11. Back in the day I remember him digging Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, and Paula Abdul (I’ll defend his ego by telling you he did not like “American Idol.”) He also became a fan of some “hairbands.” This is not a list of Rusty’s favorite songs or the songs I’d guess he loved the most. These are the 67 songs that remind me most of Rusty.
HONORABLE MENTION: I’M READY, BROWN EYED GIRL, ALONE WITH YOU, CAN WE TALK, (Tevin Campbell), IT’S LIKE THIS AND LIKE THAT (Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog), STILL (Brian Mcknight), KNOCKIN DA BOOTS (H-town), SWEET NOVEMBER (Troop), IN MY DREAMS (REO SPEEDWAGON), HIP HOP HOORAY (Naughty by Nature), I DON’T WANNA BE LONELY (Az Yet), I NEED YOU (3T), LAY DOWN YOUR LOVE (Four PM), MR. WENDAL (Arrested Development), AS ONE (Hi-Five), IV Example (I’d rather be alone),DEAR GOD (Boyz II Men).
#67 ALL THAT SHE WANTS (Ace of Base) Rusty loved going to “haunted houses.” We were driving to one with our friend Katie and her cousin. This song came on and after it was over the cousin started bragging “that song came out way earlier where I’m from.” With no hesitation Rusty goes, “That song is absolute steeeeench!”
#66 ANGEL-(John Secada) Russ became a big fan of Secada. He would remind me of songs he thought were “so good you are wasting your life away not knowing them well enough.” He was disgusted I didn’t know and learn these songs.
#65 LET IT SNOW (Boyz II Men & Brian Mcknight) It reminds me of he and I driving to the Marriott Center in the snow to see basketball games. It also reminds me of amazing friends we had from Highland, American Fork, Alpine, and Lehi.
#64 A SONG FOR MAMA (Boyz II Men) This song was instant gold. We saw Boyz II Men perform in Provo in 2009 with our wives Ruth and Emi. When the show began there was a movie screen that was listing all of the amazing accomplishments the group had achieved.. Russ said, “Sheer dominance bro! My entire body is tingling.”
#63 TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY (Ice Cube) Russ could always find the mood for rap. This Ice Cube performance reminds me of him and so does “Check Yo Self.” Russ owned the censored version of “Eazy- Duz- it” by Eazy E. We laughed while we rapped.
#62 DUST IN THE WIND (Kansas) He did not like classic rock. A couple summers in a row he told me “1970’s music sucks bro.” I’d tell him how ridiculous of a statement it was. He would follow it up by saying, “I do like that one song.” He would go on to poorly sing “dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.” He would add that he preferred music of the 1950’s and 1960’s to that of the 1970’s.
#61 IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES (Joose) Rusty thought it was awesome that Joose had performed this in front of original singer Garth Brooks and that Garth was thrilled with it. The song, like many reminded him of Ruth.
#60- SUMMERTIME (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) This was an easy one for Russ to like back in the day. It screamed cruising, relaxation, music, and girls. He loved to just drive around. He would grab himself some fruity, non carbonated drink.
#59 THESE ARE THE TIMES (Dru Hill) The nice sounding chorus drove his interest to this one. Russ was a strong and resilient person. He was also very loyal. When I needed advice or help with something, he was always there.
#58 I’D DIE WITHOUT YOU (P.M. Dawn) In our last school newspaper senior year there was a picture of Rusty and the caption read, “He was last seen wearing orange hunting socks, singing PM Dawn, looking for Jay Brandriet and Joe Both.”
#57 LITTLE THINGS (Boyz II Men) On his behalf I want to thank the following friends for the Summer of 1992. Clinton Monson, Nathan Smith, Katie Terry, Matt Hicken, Karin Monson, Andy Hicken, Danny Smith, Leslie Barron, Cory Hansen, and Garrett Davis.
#56 THANK YOU (Boyz II Men) It sounded right in his jeep. He got such relaxation by driving in his jeep with the top off. He liked to go through Alpine neighborhoods and pick out the houses he would like to live in. Thank you Russ for loving my brother Justin. You have been a powerful figure in his life.
#55 TILL YOU DO ME RIGHT (After 7) He had a friendship with this song. He loved the opposite sounding voices of the main two singers. If someone would swear in the early days, he would touch their bicep and say, “ya, tough guy.”
#54 RUMP SHAKER (WRECKX-N-EFFECT) Classic. Rusty loved to scratch the dashboard acting like it was a turn table. This is that sort of song. It reminds me of going to the “Purple Turtle” with him in Pleasant Grove.
#53 HE’S DOING YOU WRONG (Shai) When Russ would get a new cd he had been looking forward to he would always listen patiently from song one all the way to the end. He would rate each song and tell me which few jams to get to right away. He knew I wanted to hear the great songs first and milk them over and over. He was going to be fair to each note that had been sang. His response to hearing this song the first time? “Another nine for Shai, nothing new.”
#52 ONE LAST CRY (Brian Mcknight) This reminds me of driving to UVSC in the fall of 1993. I was excited to see my boys Russ and Heath Bell each time. I told Riggs I’d loved this new song. He told me, It’s an 8.2 . He already bought this album months ago. He said, “there is one other 7.9 on the album called “After the Love.”It was no surprise to me it was exactly a..7.9
#51 ALL MY LIFE (K-CI & JoJo) We saw them perform this from row 11. He loved his parents, sisters, and all of his family. This song spells it out well.
#50 WEAK (SWV) For some reason this one reminds me of how much he loved Beavis and Butt Head. When I would freak out at him on a voice mail, his first usual words back were, “settle down Beavis.”
#49 DREAMS (Boyz II Men) It reminds of him at his very happiest. He had an amazing, fortunate life and he knew it. I praised him many times for his television broadcasting career. I wish I could tell him now, that he was out of my league as a professional.
#48 U SEND ME SWINGIN (Mint Condition) If there were was something good out there, he would find it. I can still see him swaying his arms, snapping during this chorus.
#47 STILL IN LOVE (New Edition) He wasn’t into old school New Edition too much, but this one made him a fan.
#46 THIS IS MY HEART (Boyz II Men) Russ believed “Cooleyhigharmony” was the greatest album of all time. The group influenced his dress to some degree.
#45 ANYTHING (3T) These kids are related to Michael Jackson. Russ was all about this song.
#44 BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (Queen) It reminded us of a movie. “Wayne’s World” had a huge impact on our lives. It wasn’t just a movie. It had social and behavioral influence on us. This Queen classic plays a huge role in the show and triggers memories.
#43 COULD (Brian Mcknight) The “Anytime” album made Russ officially on board with Mcknight and his talents. I appreciated the artist much earlier than Russ. When Russ loved he loved hard. By 1998 he was an even bigger fan of the great Brian Mcknight than I was.
#42 THANK YOU IN ADVANCE (Boyz II Men) This song reminds me of him becoming a husband and a family man. His intentions regarding his wife and kids were perfect. He found this song to be thoughtful and clever. It was also him soaking up the groups continued dominance in the R & B world.
#41 VISIONS OF A SUNSET (Shawn Stockman) This was Rusty’s favorite singer in Boyz II Men in a solo. Riggs loved “slim” claiming he was the most talented in the group. Russ told Slim this in 1993 at the “Delta Center” in Salt Lake City.
#40 SUKIYAKI (4PM) This was the first sound released off Four PM’s debut album “Now’s the time.” Russ fell in love with the song immediately. He nagged me for weeks until I had it. What he thought was unique about this record was, “you can play it from start to finish and not skip anything.”
#39 ALL AROUND THE WORLD (Boyz II Men) Rusty was on his mission in the fall of 1994. I was driving home listening to Boyz II Men’s much anticipated second album. I knew he had the cassette as well with him in Louisiana. When they sang the line, “Boyz II Men, back around the world, and were comin through your town,” I remember getting goose bumps and being happy for Russ.
#38 NEVER GONNA LET YOU GO (Hi Five) This one reminds me of driving with him to dance clubs and our homey Craig Christiansen.
#37 YOUR’E NOT ALONE (Boyz II Men) Another Christmas one he was in to. It reminds me of what a sentimental person he was. His heart was pure. The very details of memories were not just fun for him to live, he liked to recap his life and his times.
#36 SHOW ME THE WAY BACK TO YOUR HEART (Brian Mcknight) He was listening to this a lot when he and Ruth started dating. Russ was able to marry his dream girl. Good job bro!
#35 INFORMER (Snow) He almost was laughing at the song a little, but he gravitated toward the new sound and energy. We would stay up late watching videos on MTV while he would boss around his sisters.
#34 SHE SAID (Hi Five) If Russ thought Boyz II Men were the best and Shai second, he almost saw Hi Five as their little brother. Little, but still a brother. Every Hi Five track reminds me of Russ, but he lived to hear stand out songs like this.
#33 ALWAYS IN MY HEART (Tevin Campbell) He was so funny it was intoxicating to anyone around him. Songs that meant so much to him like this one, will keep him alive forever.
#32 FOREVER MY LADY (JODECI) Everyone wanted to hang out with Russ. I watched him become part of a group of friends that were mine first. Not only did Russ become the leader, people would try to take on his character traits. Everyone tried to be as funny as him. Everyone tried to tease each other. His personality was so bright, he sorta gave the group culture.
#31 MONA LISA (All for One) He thought All for One were pretty cool. He really enjoyed this song. It reminds me of covering high school football games with him at Wasatch High School.
#30- “I’LL MAKE TO LOVE TO YOU” (Boyz II Men) He took a few jabs at this great song some years back. Some of the words were lame and he hated the label his R & B music represented sometimes. It could be used as love making music, sure. Russ loved the music itself. It made him feel great. It was like an emotional tatto to him. It was the first song released on their second album, and he adored it. He had recorded it off the radio in Louisiana and sent it to me in Salt Lake City before the single was even for sale.
#29- “LOVE A LIFETIME” (Firehouse) This reminds me of going to Salt Lake in his red truck. Of course he would find a rock band singing a love song. He liked to purchase the drink “Peach Ole” in gas stations. He would also embarrass me by asking workers “how many grams of fat” were in different fast food items.
#28- “SACRED EMOTION” (Donny Osmond) This song sounds right in line with a lot of the music he cared about. He was all about this 1989 Osmond tune.
#27- “CRAZY LOVE” (Brian Mcknight) This was the one that helped him turn a big corner in liking Mcknight. It was a Van Morrison joint that Brian sang in a way Riggs could relate to.
#26- “BACK AT ONE” (Brian Mcknight) This reminds me of us seeing Brian Mcknight in person. It reminds me of his first born child, Madalyn. Russ had more pride than most humans. His pride in being a father was off the charts.
#25- “ONE SWEET DAY” (Boyz II MEN & Maria Carey) He couldn’t help but add this to his great list. It had a sound and a meaning. It was played at his viewing.
#24- “FOREVER LOVE” (Color Me Badd) I play a song like this and I remember what a tender heart Rusty had. You’d have to have a good heart to love this soft hearted, lovey dove, well sang stuff. This song ranks way high on his best of list, and it reminded him of delivering pizza.
#23- “DO THEY KNOW” (Boyz II Men) A Christmas album from his boyz was quite a treat to give Rusty. This song is about Jesus and is beautiful music. It reminds me of he and I hanging out every day during school lunch.
#22- “SOMEONE TO HOLD” (Trey Lorenz) This one reminds me of playing in the “Roundball Ruckus” with him. Win or lose he was scoring points. He and I told some girls “we wrote the Trey Lorenz song “Just to be close to you.”You could say dumb stuff like that before there was internet.
#21- “DO WHAT I GOTTA DO” (Ralph Tresvant) He praised how near feminine Ralph could sound with his smooth voice. I was the last one among my friends to convert from cassette to cd. Rusty would take shots like, “Jay, driving a horse and carriage, listening to his tapes.” He gave me props for making this Tresvant album the second CD I purchased.
#20- “YOUR LOVE” (Boyz II Men) He enjoyed not just listening to this jam, he loved talking about it. He thought it was underrated and a hidden gem.
#19- “YES” (Four PM) When the group sings a slow “Y-E-S” in the background during the chorus was his favorite part. He could have been the public relations person for this music group. He always wanted them to have put out more songs than they did.
#18- “GLORY OF LOVE” (Chicago) Before he had adopted R & B as his calling card, this was Rusty’s favorite song when he was 15 years old.
#17- “WIN” (Brian Mcknight) After hearing this song for the first time in the year 2000 Russ said, “this says perfectly how I want to live the next stage of my life.”
#16- “COME AND TALK TO ME” (Jodeci) Rusty liked that this song had thump, attitude, but still remained a great slow jam. A shout out on his behalf to American Fork High School class of 1993.
#15- “TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO” (Tevin Campbell) Tevin was a little “bubble gum” at this point of his career. Russ loved Tevin and wanted to review anything the guy would sing. He thought Campbell was a vocal phenom.
#14- “TOGETHER FOREVER” (Shai) Rusty noted how delicate and intimate this song was. He liked the song more as the years passed. He loved the harmony and talent of Shai.
#13- “GIRL YOU FOR ME” (Silk) He didn’t dig too many Silk tracks but this one had it all working. It reminds me of driving to his Grandma and Grandpa Waters house.
#12- “CAN’T WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE” (Hi Five) I’d guess he would choose this as Hi Fives best. It was a young perspective, but sang like R & B grown ups. It was radio friendly and the first Hi Five song Russ had me sample.
#11- “ROUND AND ROUND (Tevin Campbell) This reminds me of cruising around with him in the early days. He always wanted to do things and go places. He was pro active for an adventure. He drove 90% of the time (he would say right now that it was “98.1% of the time”).
#10- “LATELY” (JODECI) K-Ci and Jo Jo nailed this Stevie Wonder classic on an “MTV” special in the Fall of 1993. When far away, this song made him very home sick.
#9- “COMFORTER” (Shai) He had elite praise for this one. He liked it’s tempo, it’s layered sounds, and the support aspect. His top singing line in it was “I don’t mean to disregard your feelings, but I think that he’s a fool, he don’t know how sen-si-tive you are, and baby that just ain’t cool.” The words look cheesy. Shai singing it is not.
#8- “BABY I’M YOURS” (Shai) He admired Shai. He thought the best stuff they had could compete with anyone. This song was further proof to Russ that the slow jams he liked were becoming cool and mainstream.
#7- “IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY” (Boyz II Men) Both of our first memory of the summer of 1992 is that we saw Boyz II Men sing this on Good Morning America. We called each other to celebrate it. This song IS Russ. A classic about loved ones passing away. “And I’ll take with me the memories, to be my sunshine after the rain. It’s so hard, to say goodbye to yesterday.”
#6- “I ADORE MI AMORE” (Color Me Badd) He liked “All Eternity” and “The Earth, the Sun, the Rain” more as songs. This one reminds me of him more. It was on a mix tape he had as we would drive to Jazz games. The line that is him is..”Dream on, dream away, I think I’m gonna have to stay, stay forever.”
#5- “I KNOW LOVE” (Hi Five) On a December Saturday night in 1991 Rusty knew I had a few dollars to burn and he was going to MAKE SURE I got some new music. We went to Fred Meyer in American Fork and brought Hi Fives first album back to his parents house. Sitting in a cold driveway he told me, “This will help with your music taste”. He played this song.
#4- “MOTOWN PHILLY” (Boyz II Men) This was the bands original theme song in a way. That means it was Rusty’s theme song. When walking down the hall his senior year, guys would chant “Rusty Riggs, ABC BBD, East coast family.”
#3- “END OF THE ROAD” (Boyz II Men) It was not only number one on the charts for 13 weeks, it defined his favorite summer of all time (1992). This was the music group he admired, on fire across America. He wanted to remind me, “I loved Boyz II Men when they were opening for MC Hammer at the the 49th Street Galleria.”
#2- “CONFUSED” (Tevin Campbell) I was stunned I ranked this number two overall. Since he passed, no song has gone through my head more than this one. Listen to the opening seconds of this song. “Every night I dream of places, I’ve never been to, so real it blows my mind.” It wasn’t the words that mattered to Russ the majority of the time. It was the sound, the vibration, the melody. This song was in his soul.
#1- “PLEASE DON’T GO” (Boyz II Men) From 1992 to the day he died in 2014, he believed this was the greatest song ever made. In his second meeting with Boyz II Men in 2009, he made sure they understood what the song had meant to him. His words impacted the singing group. Russ impacted my life on the highest level possible.
Jay C. Brandriet