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The Very Thought of You

The whole Hee Haw gang at your parents’ wedding.

Dear Cooper:

It’s a song that still gives me the heebie-jeebies. When your parents were planning their wedding, your mother decided that I was the person who could sing. A solo. As in, by myself.

She sent me an entire CD of possibilities, all classics by Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Cash and People I Could Never Hope to Emulate, written out in her immaculate hand on the face of the golden disc. But, she made it clear that she really, REALLY wanted me to butcher, I mean sing, Billie Holiday’s The Very Thought of You.

You’ve lived with your mother for a little over a year now, so perhaps you understand how persistent she can be. Yes, Andra. I want you to sing The Very Thought of You. A capella. Outside, with absolutely no acoustical assistance WHATSOEVER. It will be sultry, but people will forget that’s the humidity and the bugs, and they will attribute their warm and fuzzy feelings to you.  And, I know it will be GREAT.


I practiced. In multiple attacks of nerves, I forgot the words. I practiced some more. I am mortally afraid of singing in public, unless I am playing a character, and I was almost in tears as we drove from Beaufort to Old Sheldon Church. Blinking my eyes as we pulled into the dirt parking area, I hoped the sawtooth bricks of the ruin and the Spanish moss would somehow sing the song for me, imagined the breeze whistling the tune in the gnarled limbs of the trees.

To this day, I know that whistling was you, circling around in the heavens. Blasting through the crumbling mortar. Rustling the leaves of the live oaks. The very thought of you was everywhere that June afternoon. All of us, we knew it.

I love you.


Is there a song that was supposed to be for one thing but reminds you of something else entirely?

This post is part of the series The Soundtrack of Life. If this is your first visit to the series, please click here for the first installment, click here for the second, click here for the third, click here for the fourth, here for the fifth and here for the sixth. MTM wrote a great guest post, which you can find here. Thanks for your contributions and insights in the comments. They always enrich this blog, especially in a series like this one.

32 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a beautiful memory, and what a wonderful gift to give your dear friend on her wedding day! I can imagine how concerned you’d be, but I am also sure it was a memorable moment! This is a sweet recollection, Andra. I don’t have anything to match such a musical memory! :-)

    August 13, 2012
    • It was memorable when I went to kiss her on the cheek after the song, and we somehow ended up doing this girl-on-girl lip lock. :) It was a sisterly peck, but it was funny.

      August 13, 2012
  2. Is there a recording of this?

    August 13, 2012
  3. I sang a capella for the wedding of two of my dearest friends as well, and it scared me to a quivering mass. I shook through my whole performance. They SAY they don’t remember it like that, so I take their word for it.

    August 13, 2012
    • I can’t wait to watch the video at the break in my class.

      August 13, 2012
      • As long as you’re aware it’s actually Marc Cohn. To my knowledge, no one recorded mine. Thank god for tiny chapels on the coast of Maine, friends too young and poor to have videography, and the years before cameraphones!

        August 13, 2012
  4. I don’t let most people know I can sing. I never want a similar experience. Let me speechify and I’m good, thanks. But that paragraph about Cooper blasting around? Yeeehaw.

    August 13, 2012
  5. Wow, I have missed so much in the past week. I’ve not yet gotten to those previous posts, but the voice in this piece is so strong–it sings, as well! I’ve missed you.

    August 13, 2012
    • I have missed you, Kathy. So glad you, Lisa and Tori got together, even though you had some drama.

      August 13, 2012
  6. I wish I was present in every moment of the day as you are. Even when I remember to be in the present moment my feelings/thoughts seem to be so elusive. You are such an awesome teacher even when you may not realize it. Thank you. (I’m going to be so evolved one of these days.)

    August 13, 2012
    • Ha. I am not very present right now. I am sitting in a class on key financial and economic issues in today’s environment, and it is so depressing that I am responding to comments instead of paying attention. :)

      August 13, 2012
  7. I love Old Sheldon Church. That place is wonderful, just mystical. I wish we had a recording of your performance! I am sure you were wonderful.

    August 13, 2012
  8. Cameron, True Companion became one of many of “our songs” when Tom and I first heard it many moons ago. We then had the supreme pleasure of hearing Marc Cohn perform it a few summers ago, under the twinkling stars with fireflies adding to the atmosphere at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. Way off to the side, candlelight flickered, in pairs. It was a group of summertime lovers, dancing in the dark.

    Andra, you will, indeed, enjoy your break today – as I enjoyed this post. I’m certain you did a memorable and meaningful rendition of The Very Thought of You.

    August 13, 2012
    • Ah, dancing by candlelight. Such a romantic visual, Penny.

      I don’t know how much of a break this is. At the moment, we are discussing the impending collapse of our procurement models and fracking. :)

      August 13, 2012
  9. I love this. Singing a capella in the “wild” is a great thing. I sang at a wedding on the banks of the Ashley River and sang “One hand, One Heart” from West Side Story. Though I did have an electronic piano accompaniment. I sang at my grandmother’s funeral, at the graveside. Her favorite hymn, His Eye is On the Sparrow. It is wonderful to hear a human voice wrap itself around the air, people and embed itself into the situation. Brava, Andra.

    August 13, 2012
  10. That. Song. I used to sing it to my 16 y.o. when he was a baby. I feel the lump in my throat now. Thanks for bringing back such a fond memory, Andra.

    August 13, 2012
    • Just what I was hoping to accomplish with this series, Liz. Well, not making you cry, but helping readers remember big times in their lives. I’m glad this one brought back something special.

      August 13, 2012
  11. James Modditt #

    Once upon a time a friend of mine had me join a website that lets you pick a song and sing along with the lyrics and it records you. I think I did 3 or 4 songs and have not done it since. I do not feel that I can sing that well but have been told otherwise. I am sure you did an awesome job Andra. I am sure your friend will cherish that for all eternity.

    August 13, 2012
  12. Wonderful memory to share with Cooper . . . and us. I’ve sung in many weddings, but never a capella. Go you!

    BTW: This song plays a BIG part in one of our all time favorite movies ~ Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr., and “Mrs. Robinson” (Anne Bancroft).

    August 13, 2012
  13. Lordy. I am okay with singing in public but I like to have some backup, at the least! That song for some reason reminds me of high school.

    August 15, 2012

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