by Zoltan James
Brothers Phil and Don were sitting on their farmhouse porch just south of Colby, Kansas one summer night talking and strumming their guitars. The harvest moon was shining like a big rubber ball and off in the distance you could hear the train’s lonesome whistle call.
Their momma didn’t dance and their daddy didn’t rock ‘n roll, but the brothers somehow got the miracle of music in their blood streams. Each night after their chores were done they would wile away the evening making up songs and sing in two-part harmony.
This particular evening, Phil was feeling down in the dumps and his frustration manifested in such a way that he had misplaced his pitch pipe and was having a dickens of a time trying to tune his guitar by ear. Turns out the real reason he was fretting was that he was on the outs with his girl. For some reason, as is wont among teenagers, a powerful mis-communication had taken place.
Don, being the sensitive brother of the two, tried to help. “You think you’ve lost your love?”
Phil didn’t reply.
“Well, I saw her yesterday. And it’s you she’s thinking of and she told me what to say.”
By now Phil’s right fingers were somewhere behind the fifth fret of the second string and with his left hand tweaking the tuning keys he was getting close to perfect pitch.
“Are you listening to me? Don said. “She says she loves you. And you know that can’t be bad.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Phil muttered.
“No. Really. She loves you,” Don pressed on.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Phil said, head down, still fiddling with the tuning keys on the headstock.
“With a love like that you should be glad!” Don said.
Phil looked up and through clenched teeth said, “Well, wise men say only fools rush in.”
“It’s not for me to say, but I say you’re an idiot,” Don said. “She said you’re just too good to be true and she can’t take her eyes off you. Said you’re like heaven to touch (yuck, he thought) and she wants to hold you so much.”
Don rolled his eyes embarrassed he had even gone so far as to quote her directly.
Phil cocked his ear low to his guitar’s sound hole and strummed his six nylon strings. “She’s crazy, crazy for feelin’ so lonely. And, she’s crazy for tryin’.”
Don looked hard at his brother. “If I didn’t know better brother, I’d say you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.”
“Forget it,” Phil snorted. “It’s just her feelings. Nothing more than feelings. And, I’m trying to forget my feelings of love.”
“Oh, that lovin’ feeling. You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. Now it’s gone, gone, gone.” Don waved his hand like a dove flying away.
“Whoa-oh,” Phil said.
Don riffed a little country blues across his strings. “Well, don’t you make my brown eyes blue.”
Phil’s fingers flew up and down his frets with a furious flare and he finished with a slap to his guitar to punctuate his feelings.
Don watched silently. When Phil stopped, Don said, “Tell me something, bro. How’d you two meet?”
Phil coaxed his guitar into a romantic love song. He spoke in almost a whisper. “We were strangers in the night. Two lonely people, we were strangers in the night. Up to the moment when we said our first hello, little did we know, love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away.”
And, his guitar played so hauntingly it almost sounded like weeping.
Don tried to ease his brother’s pain. “Take it from me little brother, I don’t think she’s gonna give up easily. Actually, I think every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, she’ll be watching you.”
“Are you talkin’ bout my girl? My girl?”
“Hey, hey hey! I sure am, bro.”
Phil’s fingers flew across his frets in an angry blues rift reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. “For once in my life, brother, I won’t let sorrow hurt me, not like it’s hurt me before. For once I have something I know won’t desert me cause I’m not alone anymore.”
“What do you mean, you’re not alone anymore?” Don asked.
“I got you babe.”
Don raised an eyebrow, rubbed his knee, and scooted another foot away. Then he cleared his throat. “Well, when you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand and nothing, nothing is going right. . .”
“Whoa!” Phil said.
“. . .Just close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there, cause you’ve got a friend.”
Phil wiped a tear from his cheek and patted his brother’s shoulder. “God only knows what I’d be without you.”
Don smiled broadly. “We’ve been together since way back when. Sometimes I never want to see you again. . .”
Phil grinned sheepishly.
“. . .But I want you to know, after all these years, you’re still the one I want tunin’ my guitar by ear.”
Don drummed the body of his acoustic guitar. “So, bro. And now it’s up to you. I think it’s only fair. Pride can hurt you, too, so apologize to her.”
“Because she loves you and you know that can’t be bad.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“Yes, she loves you and you know you should be glad.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Their mother stepped to the screen door and calmly said, “Boys, time for bed.”
And, in perfect two-part harmony, they sang, “Well, that’s alright mama.”
Epilogue: Phil and Don Neverly’s singing careers never took off until they changed their names to Billy Bob and Rusty. After years of playing dusty rodeos and county fairs and biker bars, they finally got noticed and became frequent guests on The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. They had one big hit on the Lapel Label, “I Can’t Miss You Darlin’ If You’re Never Here.” Today Don lives in Los Angeles and plays back-up guitar for Engelbert Humperdinck. Phil is a barber in Seville. He never got together with his girlfriend. She works as a TSA agent in Boston. Her name is Patsy Medowne and on her frequent coffee and donut breaks she wonders whatever happened to that handsome boy, Phil Neverly, and his magical guitar. She loved him so.
The history of how the lyrics and song “She Loves You” came about is quite interesting. If you want more, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_Loves_You
The above song title or lyrics mentioned in order and their authors are:
She Loves You, Lennon/McCartney
Can’t Help Falling in Love, written by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore and was based on “Plaisir d’amour” by Jean Paul Egide Martini.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio
Crazy, Willie Nelson
Feelings, Morris Alpert
Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Richard Leigh
Strangers in the Night, Charles Singleton, Eddie Snyder and Bert Kaempfert
Every Breath You Take, Sting, the front man for the rock band Police, wrote this at the same desk in Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels
My Girl, written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, who were both members of The Miracles. Robinson wrote the lyrics, which were inspired by his wife, Claudette.
For Once In My Life, written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden
You’ve Got a Friend, Carole King
Still the One, Johanna Hall and John Hall
That’s Alright Mama, Arthur Crudup
And, now, here are the Beatles, live (well, via the magic of YouTube), in 1963, singing “She Loves You.”
|The Beatles – She Loves You Live Video
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