I covet my neighbor’s willow tree. I always wanted one, but the roots contain some kind of homing device causing them to make a beeline for the septic tank, resulting in “thousands of dollars in costly repairs.”
Or at least that’s what the man said.
My neighbor’s willow sits right on the corner, next to the street. I drive past the tree every day on my way to work. In winter, her barren branches droop gently, forming a frosty crown. In spring she sprouts cotton candy that melts into the lush green of summer.
Yesterday, cool breezes blew through my opened car window and the willow’s branches, taking green and yellow leaves with it. As I passed, I noticed the uppermost branches were already bare. I saw patience in her droop, a studied tolerance under a swirl of green and yellow ovals. Soon she would be regal again.
Something about the scene moved me. It might have been the empty branches, or the way those unruly leaves mocked her on the way down. It could have been her beauty.
But, it might have been the music.
Yesterday, as I passed the tree, Dionne Warwick warbled.
If you’re under the age of 40, you’re probably confused. You’re marveling, I’d guess, to think that the host of TV’s “Psychic Friends” also sings. I know how you feel. I haven’t stopped shaking my head ever since I heard she was hosting a television program featuring washed-up soap opera stars pretending to telephone psychics. What a concept…
Dionne Warwick was the mouthpiece of one of the greatest songwriting duos of the 20th century, and it wasn’t until I heard her sing the leaves out of a tree that I realized how much that music meant to me.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David originally wrote “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” for the Broadway show “Promises, Promises” in 1968. In 1970, Dionne Warwick took it to number one on the charts. I STILL know every word.
Hal David was 91 when he died on September first. To commemorate his life, Terri Gross replayed her interview with him on “Fresh Air”. I’m sure he told stories and shared anecdotes. At one point, Terri asked him about a supposed riff with writing partner Burt Bacharach. David swept it under the rug, along with any suggestion of Dionne as Diva. And that was just fine with me. Enough with the talk! Let’s hear some music!
I heard a snippet of “Alfie” which I didn’t realize originated from a film of the same name until I saw the remake in 2004. I went to see Jude Law. I left humming Bacharach’s tune.
Then she played “Do You Know The Way To San Jose”. This wasn’t my favorite…but I still get sucked in. Every time it plays I find myself singing the accompaniment “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoawhoawhaowhaowaho, whoa”.
What I didn’t realize until Terri played a montage of their hits was that Dionne didn’t have to sing it for me to love it.
In 1965, our parents bought Tom Jone’s album “What’s New Pussycat”. A few years later, me and Judy Witcher played it over and over and over again…”You and your pussycat nose…”.
The highlight of Christmas day, 1970, was waking up to the sight of The Carpenter’s album, “Close to You”, among Santa’s gifts.
And Dusty Springfield’s “The Look of Love” still seduces me.
The music, and the tree, and the leaves, and the breeze all came together in a tiny moment in time called Joy.
And I felt it.
What a gift!
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