Melody for an Unknown Girl

  • Posted: February 14, 2015
  • Category: Blog
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One of the small graces making an unexpected appearance in our maturity is the pleasure we have in our memories. As we move through our days, there are so many things we come across evoking echoes among chords of remembrance. There are fewer and fewer paths in our life of which we cannot say, “I have gone this way before.” But though the paths are well worn, they are lined with the memories of past times, reminding us of who we were and the dreams we had.

There is no hiding the fact that I have seen many Valentine’s Days. There have been good ones and bad ones, memorable ones and those best forgotten. But these days, no Valentine’s Day is complete without reaching into my playlist and spending time with an old song that was very dear to me.

In present times it is a song to share with coffee in the morning, or better yet, a fine scotch whiskey in the evening. It pulls me back to a time and place far away from today, to a time of beginnings, to a time of hope for future glory, to a time of lonely yearning. I think it quite the most beautiful melody I have ever heard, though it never achieved popularity or its time in the sun. Perhaps the old saying is true, “Beauty is in the eye (ear) of the beholder.”

A soft, haunting melody, the song is unlike anything else done by the band that gave it birth. Only those of a certain age remember Mark Lindsay, or Paul Revere, or the Raiders. Their music was not accorded the critical fame of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, or the sheer staying power of the Rolling Stones. But they are in my Hall of Fame for this afterthought in their limited repertoire, a simple saxophone solo. Its title says it all. The song is called, Melody for an Unknown Girl.

The song takes me back to my teen years. It takes me back to a farmhouse in Nebraska. It takes me back to a time when I was an awkward lonely sophomore wanting to fit into high school. I had discovered girls, but what did a farm boy living in a world of work and tractors know about girls? High school was my first taste of a larger world outside the simple country school and farm countryside that I came from. High school opened a world that I wanted to live in, a world with a beckoning future. But it was a world in which I felt lost, unwanted and alone.

Sitting in our small basement after the field work and cattle feeding was done, I would play the song over and over again. The melody, the words, the lonely sound of the saxophone gave voice to my feelings. It gave me hope that someday I would find someone. The song gave me comfort at the same time it promised a future where I would no longer be that awkward lonely person. It was a friend when I needed a friend.

Sometimes its hard to say the right words

Even when they’re written in your heart

Most songs have words

But this one

Which is written for someone

I don’t even know yet

I can’t find the right way

To say the things I want to say

So there are no words

Just a melody

For a girl

Listening to the song today puts me back into the Sixties and that austere basement. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I first heard that saxophone playing alone in the silence. But when I hear it today, it is almost as if I am there, listening to a scratchy worn out record on a cheap portable phonograph. My heart was yearning for what I didn’t even know. But listening to that song, I knew that she existed and that she would be worth the wait. I can remember that painful time of longing for something beyond myself.

Time passes and adolescent anxieties become the bedrocks upon which we build mature realities. I no longer know the song as Melody for an Unknown Girl. The melody is no longer for an unknown girl, because I know the girl. I have known her for over forty years. Her name is Diane.



4 Responses to “Melody for an Unknown Girl”

  1. Bob Wilson says:

    Bill you old romantic! What a lovely essay on reflections and the power of our roots. I couldnt help but connect with your thoughts here. Do I see a new career path budding?

  2. Suzanne says:

    Wow. I didn’t know you could be so romantic. You and Mom’s relationship and marriage are an inspiration for your children and grandchildren. We can all only hope to have such lasting relationships in our lives. We love you.

  3. Chris Groskopf says:

    Good post!

  4. Rex Rinne says:

    some of us would just say..”that God has a plan for each of us.” I cherish my wife Linda with whom I celebrate our 47th Valentine’s Day today.

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