Friday, September 26, 2014

Even a Lifetime

Some days - like this one, O Best Beloveds - are such that what you need at the end of them is a moment or two of truth and beauty.  Like this.

Oh, I suppose a quibbler might argue that the one of these voices, however true, isn't technically speaking beautiful - but that's a tiny thing next to the wonder that is the voice of Miss Eileen Farrell and the electric partnership so evident between these two old pros.

Have I ever told you about one of the high-low moments of my life?  I don't think I have.  I was at a party, you see (a high point), in a very glamorous Manhattan setting (ditto). the tall windows of the louchely elegant drawing room looking out onto the sparkling city like some EastmanColor backdrop from a glossy '50s romance.  The place was chock-a-block with the great and the good, and for once I wasn't even working, was halfway decently dressed, and was a good glass or three of very good Champagne into a Nice Night Out.  A well-known actress had laughed at something I'd said, and a very good-looking jeune premier had smiled quite promisingly across the room.

In the distance I heard someone strike up a tune at the piano, down a room or two in the apartment's stately enfilade of flower-filled, candle-decked, art-you've-heard-of-decorated spaces.  Getting closer, I heard the first note of a familiar song, "P.S., I Love You."  People were singing, softly as one does at the beginning of that guaranteed weepie ("Dear, I thought I'd drop a line...").  I turned the corner and found myself unmeaningly in a sort of pool of light at the doorway to the music room, just as the first verse ended (" bed each night at nine...") and in time to join in on the title phrase.

Which, it seemed, had been agreed on unbeknownst to me by the group to be a solo line for the pianist, a small, white-headed growler who looked up quite sharply hearing another voice joining in on "P.S., I love you..."

Who knew that that old chestnut would be one of the Maestro's favorite songs?

I died, not least because he then made me stand next to him and sing along all the way through to the very last "P.S." Eileen Farrell wasn't there, to my knowledge, but a couple of others whose recording of the song you might happen to have hanging around the house were, and it was as close to heaven and purgatory all at once as ever I hope to get.  But people smiled and laughed, and the party moved on.

The jeune premier didn't work out, but it was even so a memorable night.  A gang of us ended up walking an elderly Tony winner home and then going on to one of our low haunts over on the far West Side.  We all sang "P.S. I Love You" one more time, leaving the title phrase to me, and for a season or two after, whenever we walked in there, that was the song they'd play.

And now I sit, 25 years and more later, middle-aged if not quite as white of hair as the two old hams at the piano up above, in a cozy suburban apartment with a Yorkie on my lap, recovering from a stressful day of International Strategic Communications, waiting for the one with whom even a lifetime isn't enough to come home and have takeout Chinese.  Funny how life turns out.  Where has the time all gone to?


  1. I don't know which is the more moving - the poignancy of two old friends singing in what must have been one of their last collaborations together, or your own musings. Beautiful. Jx

  2. How grand of you to share this memory. I drank it in like very good champagne. Thank you.

  3. "a small, white-headed growler"
    That is poetry, right there, my friend!