var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-34495792-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

A GOOD SONG

She hadn’t been working in the radio station for too long, maybe six months, but her boss thought the world of her. Behind her back, she had been nicknamed “His Daughter.” After work, she socialized with her friends or hung out with her boy friend if he wasn’t gigging with his band. Or, even if he was gigging with his band and it was a venue that didn’t totally freak her out. The band wrote their own music. They were throwbacks to another time where music was actually played and not “synthed.” Their music was catchy. People could hum along to it if they wanted, carry the tunes home in their heads to hum another day. And they often did.

There was a continuous contest going on in the radio station in six month cycles. Struggling bands all over the city would submit a song as sheet music. The music would be looked at by a panel of volunteering high mucky mucks of the music industry. Throughout the six months, the music would be sorted through until they had the top ten songs, if that many, that showed potential. Those last ten songs would be performed by a house band and broadcast over the radio station so the public could vote. The song with the most votes would be recorded by a famous singer. It was a win win situation. The mucky mucks got new music for their stable of singers who weren’t also songwriters. The person who wrote the song would be able to submit even more music. The radio station was the most popular in the city and there was even talk of syndication.

Today was the day that the top ten songs were going to be performed. Only, there weren’t ten. There were eleven. The girl had slipped in a song written by her boy friend’s band as they’d missed the deadline for the song submissions. No one knew that she’d done it, not even her boy friend. It was her favorite song--a sea ballad whose scope started off wide and then narrowed down to one woman waiting for her lover to return from the sea. Not only was it very beautiful and filled with yearning and love, but it had a happy ending. The girl loved her boyfriend for that one song with its happy ending. Of course she loved him for other things as well, like how he could make her laugh and the quirky way he’d smile and how he’d listened to his mother when she ‘d told him that relationships were equally balanced, and that went for household chores as well. But she really loved him for that song because it gave her such a soft and peaceful glow at the end. It left her feeling like good things could happen even when you were convinced they couldn’t possibly.

Her boss reached for the sheet music of songs and she handed them to him. He headed to the recording studio in the heart of the station, motioning her to follow. He riffled through the music as they walked down the short corridor. “What’s this?” he asked, pausing at the sheet music the girl had slipped in. His brows knitted as he studied it and his pacing slowed. The girl blushed, stammering out an explanation, but her boss didn’t hear her. He was hearing the song in his head. “Funny,” he said shaking his head, “I would think I’d remember this one.”

They’d reached the studio and her boss , alway a gentleman, held the door open for her. The band, which was tuning it’s guitars, quieted, waiting for the boss to get settled. They looked at the music director who looked at the boss hunched in front of his microphone. The boss settled in and then flicked the microphone onto live to begin the broadcast. It was the girl’s job to hand him the notes he’d made on each piece of music, what the music was like, why it had been selected, etc. He’d announce the song and then the studio band would play it. Then there would be about ten minutes of commercial breaks, news and weather as the votes came in over the phones. It was a big deal and was hosted on a Sunday afternoon when, statistically, it was believed most listeners would be available to vote. The event had been well advertised, was well known, and the phones were ringing pretty much constantly after each song.

When it came to the eleventh song, the boss reached out his hand for his notes on the sheet music he was holding with the other. He looked up quizzically when the girl shook her head. “What do you mean there are no notes?” he whispered hoarsely, flicking off the microphone so they could speak in private.

The sound director leaned over to his assistant. “Uh-oh, Daddy’s mad at his little girl.” In an impish mood, he swung an active microphone over the two to pick up the conversation, thinking it would enliven the show.

The assistant snickered as the chastisement went live.

At home, the boy friend raised himself onto one elbow. He had been dozing after a late night of gigging and was missing his girl friend who should have been snuggled up close to him but had had to work. So, he’d put on the show.

“I am extremely disappointed in you,” the boss said.

“I thought you might be,” the girl said humbly.

“This will cost you your job.”

“I thought it might,” the girl replied heavily, “But, please, give the song a chance. It’s a good song.”

“Nobody knows it.”

“It’s pretty hummable. I bet the band will catch on quick.”

The girl pleaded with her eyes.

The boss sighed. “And no one is available to sing it.”

“I will,” she volunteered.

He squinted at her. “Have you done something like this before?”

“Oh yes, many times,” she lied with widened eyes.

He stared at her for a few moments, then handed the sheet music to her. “Go make some copies for the band and get ready then.”

The girl scrambled to obey.

In the bathroom, the girl took a shaky breath and wiped the water from her face with a paper towel. Her heart was beating so hard she thought it may as well just slam through her chest and plop onto the floor. She stared miserably at her reflection and then thought of the lyrics. It was a good song.

An assistant popped her head through the bathroom door. “Ready? They’re waiting.”

The girl swallowed and took a deep breath, exited the bathroom and entered the recording studio where an additional microphone had been set up on the stage.

“This is a good song,” the studio bandleader said, practicing a riff. He eyed her white face. “Ever done this before?”

She shook her head.

“Well,” he said slowly, “First time for everything, I suppose.”

A smile flickered briefly across her face and she cleared her throat.

“It’s a good song,” the bandleader said again, “Just let it guide you. Good songs can do that, you know. They sing you and not the other way ‘round.”

The girl’s heart still slammed at her chest, as she turned toward the mic. She placed a hand on it to steady herself, and took a deep breath as the intro was played. It gave her some confidence at how quickly the band had picked up the on the melody.

“Let the song sing you,” the bandleader mouthed.

She nodded, closed her eyes, and after a moment, began humming the intro because it felt like the right thing to do.

In her nervousness, she forgot most of the words and those she remembered felt thick and husky in her throat. The bandleader covered where he could because he did not want to see her fail. During the chorus, she found her stride and by the time the bridge came, she was hitting the notes and beginning to relax. At the final verse when the lovers were united, she faltered again, but kept going, heedless of the tears tracking down her cheeks. As the last note hung in the atmosphere, she ran from the stage and into the sanctuary of the bathroom. There, she broke down completely, consoling herself that at least the song had been heard.

In the studio, the phones were clamoring for attention. They couldn’t be answered fast enough.

The boss sat back in his chair. He rubbed the back of his neck before folding his arms across his chest. “I think we’ve got a hit song, here,” he said to no one in particular.

“Sir?” said and assistant, handing him his private phone.

“That singer?” said one of the producers on the song panel. “Don’t let her leave. I wish to speak with her.”

CYNTHIA BRYN WILLIAMS 2012 to contact, click on following link: cb@cbwilliams.us