I wrote a love song once.
Like many 17-year-old dorks with cheap, Japanese electric guitars, I was listening to a lot of Pink Floyd. On the album Meddle, there's a goofy, jazzy number called "San Tropez." Unlike that album's opener, "One of These Days" (in which, after a barrage of guitars and psychotic synth noise, a distorted voice says, One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces), "Tropez" is a tropical-vacation-themed swinger about fruity cocktails and love under the sun.
It was the summer after my sophomore year, and I'd had a romance with a girl who — as if John Travolta were writing my life — would move with her family to North Carolina at summer's end. So, ripping off the '71 Floyd and other groups I'd heard on an AM station in town that played easy-listening hits of the '40s, I wrote a little ditty called "Ain't It Funny."
For the first and last time it was ever played, I got some friends from the high-school band to sit in on drums, bass and guitar. And like a mentally disabled version of Chet Baker, I stood up in front of her and blew the melody on my horn (a saxophone) and crooned my simple, unclever lyrics.
I never figured out whether she actually enjoyed the song. She smiled, and as I was putting my instruments into my car, she ambushed me with an awkward, from-behind hug. Then she moved, and after an uncomfortable phone call or two, I never heard from her again. (It's called Facebook, Melissa.)
"Ain't It Funny" pales — no, that's not strong enough — it ejaculates prematurely into its pants and runs off into a future of intensive psychotherapy when compared with a song that local songmaster Howard Iceberg will debut live before his honey on Sunday.
"She's a Beautiful Girl" was written 30 years ago. Iceberg (back then, he was just Howard Eisberg, attorney) wrote it shortly after meeting the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his life. With divine foresight, he decided that somewhere down the road, he might need to remind himself of the reasons that this gorgeous, young law student had set aside so many of her plans to be with him.
In the beauty of her youth, it was you that she turned to
You for whom she traded in her dreams
She kept your house warm through the storms of December
And took you down in April to the snow-melted streams.
Pretty good, huh? Those familiar with the 61-year-old strummer's dry, nasal baritone and mastery of witty lyrical understatements will appreciate this step into true tender poetry even more.
Her hands may get cold, her mood may get distant
Her feelings may get easily hurt
If she knows that it's wrong, she will always resist it
She's tougher than nails and she's stronger than dirt.
The story is made even sweeter by the fact that until recently, Iceberg hadn't listened to the song since committing it to cassette tape all those years ago.
"It turned out that the song was spot-on," he told me last week.
Fortunately, it wasn't relationship discord that prompted the calling forth of "She's a Beautiful Girl." Rather, it was Expassionates frontman Scott Easterday adding Iceberg to the roster for this weekend's Love Hangover concert at the Record Bar.
Started by some dude in North Carolina (what is it with that state?) and practiced in a few cities nationwide, the Love Hangover calls for male-female duets to form and sing songs about love on the day after Valentine's Day.
This year's Hangover brings together jazz singer Valery Price and opera tenor Nathan Granner (with jazzman Jeffrey Ruckman on keys); singer-songwriters Sara Swenson and Barclay Martin; and married couple Bev and Aaron Weidner, who perform together around town as the New Tragedies.
In the evening's most colorful pairing, Iceberg will sing with veteran rocker Amy Farrand. In terms of musical personalities, it'll be like Bob Dylan sharing a mic with Joan Jett.
In addition to "She's a Beautiful Girl," the duo will sing two other Iceberg songs, some covers (including "Learning the Game" by Buddy Holly) and Farrand's own composition "15 Minutes." That song is about the last quarter-hour of a relationship that ends with the boarding of a plane.
I can relate to that.