THE TWELFTH OF NEVER
2 April 2002
You ask how much I need you
Must I explain
I need you, oh my darling
Like roses need rain..
Johnny Mathis crooned out of the car speakers and sweet memories came back--flip
flops in the stomach, knowing love will last forever, believing in a happily ever after.
While driving around the Bay Area this weekend, I stumbled across radio station KABL, a
"golden oldies" station. I realize that for a lot of folks, the "golden
oldies" were written in the 1990s, but for me, the songs I have the strongest
emotional reaction to were written from the late 40s to the early 60s.
Johnny Mathis always reminds me of high school, those first "grown-up"
parties, lights off, groping sounds from various corners of the room, me feeling very
uncomfortable, and always Johnny singing in the background.
Chances are, your chances are....awfully good...
It's funny how certain songs take you back to a place and a time.
Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa
Men have named you
You're so like the lady
With the mystic smile.
All I need to do is hear Nat King Cole singing Mona Lisa and I'm back at
Boys Hot Springs in Sonoma County. I'm in grammar school. All the family is at the
community pool. I'm walking to the concession area, my wet feet slipping on the concrete.
Nat is singing in the background. I can smell hot dogs coming from the hot dog stand. I'm
eating a bar of taffy.
It's a time for joy
A time for tears
A time we'll treasure through the years
We'll remember always
Who sang that? I can't remember. The four somebodys, I'm sure. The first few notes
take me back to the waning days of 8th grade, sitting on the grass at Aquatic Park in San
Francisco, with my classmates of 8 years, all of us preparing for grammar school
graduation and going our separate ways, to various high schools around the city. We would
never again be like this, all together in a group. Graduation Day was playing on
someone's portable radio.
Thee I love
More than the mulberries on the hill...
.... more than the buds on the May apple tree
I love thee
Whenever I hear Pat Boone warbling Friendly Persuasion, I am standing on
Market St. in San Francisco with my friends Joyce, Ann and Margie again. We had just
skipped out on some sort of religious conference we were supposed to be attending and
instead we went to see "Friendly Persuasion" Or maybe it was "House of
Wax." (I always confuse those movies. LOL.) Anyway, whatever the movie was, for some
reason that song is tied into my memories of that specific moment, standing outside a
theatre on Market St.
They say for every boy and girl
There's just one love in this whole world
And I know, I've found mine....
Whatever happened to Tab Hunter? He couldn't sing for beans, but his recording of
"Young Love" makes me think of standing on another corner in downtown San
Francisco, waiting for my first boyfriend, Bill (now a Jesuit), to meet me for our second
date. It was "our song." I don't know how long it stayed "our song" --
not long. But the recording takes me back to that afternoon. I can even feel the chill
again, as the shadow of the buildings blocked out the sun.
Darling you send me
I know you send
Darling you send me
Honest you do, honest you do, honest you do
Sam Cooke. OK. The words were never going to win any awards for enduring
literature, but I hear that song and I'm riding in the family car. I had decided I was
going to buy that record and mentioned it to my father. "Garbage," he said.
"It's just garbage." I liked the song, but I never bought it. I didn't want to
be made fun of. Just recently, I saw that there was going to be some sort of discussion or
retrospective or something about Sam Cooke, specifically that song. I smiled. It might
have been "garbage," but it has become the stuff of musical legend.
Music--the stuff of our lives, the stuff of our history, the stuff of our dreams. How
poor are people for whom music has no meaning in their lives.
You ask how long I'll love you
I'll tell you true
Until the twelfth of never
I'll still be loving you.