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Done All Right for a Girl

I fall into that sad category of “too young for Woodstock and too old for Coachella.”  So while at age 12 I missed Melanie at Woodstock, I did see her in summer 1974 at the Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park, shelling out a meager $2 for that privilege. I’ve always loved her — her surprisingly big voice with its occasional slight rasp, the way she stood up on stage with just her guitar.

Melanie performed last night at a house concert in Claremont, an intimate gathering of about 30 people. Before I went, I fished out my Melanie songbook and remembered my insufficient attempts to strum “Peace Will Come” or “Candles in the Rain.”

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It was sad and slightly shocking to see that the years haven’t been kind to her. I anticipated a silver-haired version of the Melanie I’d seen 42 years ago, and winced guiltily when she recited a monologue from her 2012 musical, “Melanie and the Record Man,” in which she admonishes her audience for expecting her to remain frozen as that sylphlike, iconic version of herself.

Melanie

She looks to be in poor health, helped on and off stage by her son Beau, whose solicitousness of his mother was touching. She spoke with a hint of wistfulness about performing for 500,000 people at Woodstock. Still obviously grieving her husband of 45 years who died in 2010, she mentions that he “took care of everything” and said that until recently, she’d been drifting on her own.  I suspect that she struggles financially now despite two gold albums, a gold single and a Billboard award for Top Female Vocalist.

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When she developed a tickle in her throat during her set of old and new songs last night, an obliging fan jumped up, dashed out to his car and retrieved a half-empty bottle of tequila. A shot was sloshed into a coffee mug and downed by the singer. “Did you drink the other half on the way in the car?” she asked her impromptu voice doctor, and the audience laughed.

Although “Brand New Key” sold 3 million copies worldwide, Melanie described coming to loathe it for years as a “silly” song that branded her as “cute.” She’s come back around now to appreciate the hit again, she said. It wasn’t the song’s then-risque sexual double-entendre that made it revolutionary, or even the supposedly sinister reference to “key” for kilo of drugs. When she sang, “Some people say I done all right for a girl,” that bit of social commentary went unnoticed in 1972.

The evening left me thinking about how fleeting the time seems, the nature of success, and girls who have done all right despite setbacks, sudden losses and things that can’t be helped.

 

 

 

 

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About treacycolbert

I make my living by writing about health care. I've always written about life's chastening effect, but just as a way of sorting it out for myself. After years of doing this and keeping these essays quiet, I decided to put some of these impressions out there on this blog. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think.

4 responses »

  1. I liked reading about your reflection on time and how our initial idolization of youthful figures become realistic as we understand that “no one gets out of here alive!” I have recently seen several musical ‘stars’ who are now traveling from venue to venue for gatherings of 20 – 50 fans for low-priced tickets and I thought about how different ther lives were now. They were physically older, and seemed to show the effects of hard-lived lives that included alcohol and drugs, and their musical talents, once amazing, were limited now. Although I knew I had aged and was less sharp and agile, I somehow was disappointed that they hadn’t escaped the ravages of time. The same thing happens to me when I first find someone on Facebook after all these years. Just have to be happy to still be alive, many aren’t.

    Reply
    • Linda, you and I are still “youthful figures” — I’m convinced of it. Hope we can go to a concert together in ’17 just like the old days. Remember my getting us hopelessly lost in Bucks County trying to find our way back from seeing David Sancious? No GPS in those days, and I drove us in circles out in the country for hours, it seemed. xxoo

      Reply
  2. Beautiful and emotional, Treacy. Love this one. P Time does slip away, doesn’t it? But, we done alright for girls! 🙆🏻❤️

    Reply

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