This song is dedicated to ...
So, I'm at my local AA meeting one Friday night, and there's this guy sharing his story, young-ish man, early 30s. Never seen him before, didn't know him.
Anyway, his story was that he had a talent, and was very successful in his chosen field, but because of drinking he almost lost everything and he ended up having to go and live with his mother in a nasty little town in Essex. He hated it, he thought it was beneath him to have to go back to the place he grew up and at first he was full of grandiosity that he was a star but forced to live in his old bedroom at home. But he'd since learned some humility and now he appreciated the working-class values of his parents.
So, the format of the meeting was that, once he'd finished his story, people could share back with him their identification, experience, etc. I was third or fourth to share back and I said that I had really identified with him, I used to live about 3 miles from the town he spoke about, and I'd also had those feelings of grandiosity that I was better than my neighbours (it's a common thing for drunks to be grandiose - lying drunk in the gutter, but still looking down on everyone).
I said that I used to live next door to this family who played the same song over and over and over. It had been a huge worldwide hit the year before. I loved the song, absolutely loved it, but my neighbours got on my nerves, they thought it was a drinking song because part of the lyric made it sound like that, and they used to yell it out at that point in the song.
But I knew, because I'd listened beyond the song's chorus, that it was really a song about nihilism, despair and about having to live in a crappy Essex suburb when I felt I deserved more.
The meeting ran its course, closed with the Serenity Prayer and then we all headed off home.
I was just driving out of the car park when the guy from the meeting practically threw himself in my path, forcing me to stop. He banged on the window, I rolled it down.
"I have to talk to you, I MUST talk to you!" he said.
It turned out that it was his
song, he'd written it, and he'd grown to hate it because everybody thought it was a drinking song. He always had to perform it because it was his biggest hit, but he hated it. Until now.
"You're the only person who's ever understood what that song is about. You said exactly what I was feeling when I wrote it. Thank you. You have no idea, you really have no idea what it means for me. I feel like you've given me my song back ..."
He asked for my name. He wrote it down. We hugged, said goodnight. I forgot about it.
Fast forward a few months. His band was on TV, a concert filmed in Japan. The intro to the song started. The crowd went wild. He said "This is for Jan. This will always be for Jan."
I've seen him on TV twice since then and also live in concert, and he said it each time then too.
I also heard him speak at another AA meeting a couple of years ago when he told the story from his perspective. I was very moved.
So, there you have it. Not quite "Darling You Look Wonderful Tonight" but I still get a shiver down my spine every time I hear 'my' song on the radio.