I've been hearing on the radio a lot lately. It's one of those ones that initally didn't register on my Like-O-Meter but subsequent listenings have charted it. It's now #2 with a bullet. (#1 is still The Killers' All These Things That I Have Done.)
It's by James Blunt and is called You're Beautiful. You've probably heard it. He's got kind of a strange voice, high and fragile. I'm not normally one for listening to guys with high and fragile voices. Give me Van Morrison, Ray Charles or Bob Seger most days. (I love Roy Orbison too and his voice was high I suppose, but definitely un-fragile.)
But in this song, Blunt's voice fits the bill perfectly. It's about a guy who's haunted by a girl he's seen. Just seen. They haven't shared anything beyond a moment of exchanged glances, yet his life has been altered forever. The wistfulness in his voice woke echoes and I finally figured out why I like it so much.
I remember on the flight home from Europe too many years ago, I was smitten by a girl sitting across and a couple of rows ahead of me. She wore one of those small kerchief things on top of her head like so many girls did back in the late 60s and early 70s. She was beautiful. My heart started pounding the minute I saw her. This flight was headed to New York City and I was to take a connecting flight to Toronto within an hour of landing. I was certain this girl was staying in New York.
I spent most of the flight in agony. I tried to distract myself by reading. I redoubled my usual efforts at keeping a heavier-than-air craft aloft through sheer will power. It was no use. I couldn't get my mind off the girl and we'd be landing in a half-hour or so.
I borrowed a piece of paper and pen from someone and scribbled a note. I forget the exact words but I told her she was beautiful and I loved her. I then beckoned the stewardess (they were still called that in 1971), explained that I was in love and pointed out the object of my ardour. I asked if she would please give her the note and tell her it was from me.
She did and the girl turned around, locked eyes with me and smiled.
Now the perfect ending would be that we got married, had kids and lived happily ever after. And if that's the ending you'd prefer, you can stop reading now.
But here's what really happened.
I walked over to her seat and started babbling. She babbled back. She did indeed live in NYC and was returning home after several months working in a kibbutz in Israel. She laughed when I told her I loved her. But she blushed too and I took that as a good sign. We exchanged addresses and I even got a hug when the plane landed and we parted.
We wrote each other a couple of times but life got in the way and I never saw her again.
But she was beautiful. And I guess I've never forgotten her.