“Words I should have said, running through my head
I could choke on the words I should have said!”
“I play piano.” Three words that changed my life. Ever think back to something words that completely changed the outcome of your life?
After being out of college for a few years, my second band with my husband broke up. I was on the cusp of a big decision – should I join another band, compose & pursue a true creative career or become an elementary music teacher in a local district? What to do? Went on vacation to Truro Beach, Provincetown, Rhode Island with a dear, crazy, uninhibited, bold friend to escape and regroup. Water and sand does that for me.
We laughed, swam, drank, went to the nude beach, got our asses burned bright red, camped out, went into Truro every night to hear great music. Back then it was all live, no DJs. Nancy was the best one to travel with – no fear, a real risk taker, positive, joyful, beautiful & adventurous. She’s still like that! Everyone should have a kindred spirit in their life like Nancy Valentine.
Inspired and renewed, I came back to Jersey and placed an ad in the local paper “Pop vocalist looking for working band”. Classically trained, I was insecure about my pop piano abilities. I got a few bites, a few rejections. Finally, got a call from the owner/performer of a successful group who came to see me that weekend performing as a duo with my husband. As I completed my haunting rendition of “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian - I saw the enthusiasm wane from his face as if he had eaten bland pasta sauce. Graciously, told me that although he enjoyed my interpretation, he wasn’t looking for that kind of ‘Janis’, more the Joplin type. He drained his glass and turned to leave.
I touched his arm and said “I play piano.”
Usually I sit there like a momo, pondering what I should say, thinking so much about it that I completely lose the moment. But not this time.
He turned, interest renewed. “Oh? How well?”
“I know my music. And I arrange harmonies as well.”
Where did that boldness come from? One of the few times I found the right words. Called me the next day, “Come to rehearsal tomorrow, bring your keyboard. Teach us four songs that you can perform this weekend. Let’s see how it goes.”
Back then, I was used to ‘cellar bands’ that compulsively rehearsed six days a week a week, and worked maybe one gig a month. I was always the only girl in the group but underplayed my abilities, intimidated by macho egos and head games.
“This weekend? What about your book? When will I learn and rehearse that?”
“On the job”, he answered. “I’m already bored with it. You’ll run the rehearsal. See you tomorrow.”
That’s the kind of man he was. Still is. Bored easily, impulsive, creative and energetic, not afraid to take chances. Years later, that man, Alfred, became my partner, my friend and, eventually, my husband and we have worked, performed and created together for 45 years.
Now I can think of many times when I ‘shoulda woulda coulda”. Hindsight is 20/20, and these missed opportunities used to haunt me as I replayed each scene in my mind like a movie that I so badly wanted to rewrite and edit.
Three words. “I play piano.” Changed my life.
“Woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’,
kickin’ up old dirt, living through the hurt
Feelin’ down, feelin’ low,
give it up, give it up, and let it go
My free download this week is called “Words I Should Have Said”. I’ve also included a video of the first recording of the song.
Got any scenes you’ve been replaying in your head for too many years? Any words that changed your life?
Feel free to share them, we can learn from each other.
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