What is it about old songs that gets to us? Maybe it’s because they have the power to transport us back to better times.
It’s odd how a song will bring to mind one image out of thousands of possibilities. Usually it’s because of a special person or occasion.
Over the years, I’ve attended my share of special affairs, usually with women in fancy clothes. The venues were posh, dinner clubs and soiree’s. Some worthy of a song, I suppose.
But, the one song that is special to me is not about all that.
It’s about a fifteen-year-old boy fidgeting in the foyer of a modest house on a wooded lot. Dressed in his best suit, he is clutching a corsage with moist fingers as he awaits his date. He has only heard about proms, never attended one until tonight.
When the door swings open, he catches his breath. The bespectacled auburn haired girl he had asked to the dance is nowhere in sight. In her place, a beautiful young swan of a woman dressed in white, her hair piled high with ringlets framing her face. Her eyes twinkle with anticipation, and a trace of fear.
“Have I picked the right gown?”, she wonders watching his expression. Her dress reveals just enough to quicken his pulse. His broad grin allays her concern. As he steps forward, for the first time in his life he feels like a man.
At her side her mother glows, gazing in awe at her young princess. Then, with a touch of nostalgia, glances at the prince poised to carry her away into the night.
His hands are trebling too much to pin on the flowers. Her mother helps then takes a picture with a flash bulb and a brownie camera.
As they make their way down the front walk, they turn back to waive. Her mother is smiling, eyes closed, hands clasped tightly at her chest. In her mind, she has returned to another time, another place, another boy, when it was her day in the sun.
Since that night, whenever I hear the Lettermen sing this special song, I think of the princess on my arm as we headed to the ball. But, in equal measure, the woman in the doorway who, like me, would forever be reminded of the melody–”The Way You Look Tonight.”
Listen and remember:
Malcolm D. Gibson
Copyright Jan.29, 2017
All Rights Reserved
First published in