Friday, June 6, 2014

Angel Eyes

It began with a mix tape.

I've made a metric ton of mix tapes in my time and have written about my love of them. I still like to make playlists with themes (Summertime, Cocktail hour, Thanksgiving). As much as I love the art of the entire album, one whole and fully realized collection of songs, I do enjoy throwing disparate tracks onto a list and being delighted when I hear them pop up in some seemingly random order somewhere down the line.

This particular mix tape was mostly made of ballads, slower stuff. It began with Dire Straits "Why Worry" and ended with Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine." Along with way it had slow and lovely tracks such as Jackson Browne's "Late for the Sky" and Tracy Chapman's "Baby Can I Hold You" and Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling In Love" and R.E.M.'s cover of Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes."

Why did I make this tape? For women, of course! Not that I had them pounding at my door, but this tape seemed to be "mood-inspiring" enough to put on when in the company of, as Radar O'Reilly would say, "a lady of the opposite sex."

Months after I made it the tape still had seen no use. Alas.

But then I met the woman who would become my wife (22 years ago today, actually - June 6, 1992) and one evening during dinner (I think) I put it on. And it made for lovely background music.

But it was when one song came on—Jeff Healey's stunning version of John Hiatt's perfect love story, "Angel Eyes—that my life changed.

I loved that song; I didn't care how produced it was or the fact that rockers likely busted out their air guitars when Jeff broke out some letter-perfect and metal-riffic (although still ballad-worthy) solos. I loved the sentiment, the melody, the earnestness of the words and the tireless, devout honesty of what is essentially a triumph of the underdog. I loved this song. Still do. Both Healey's popular version and Hiatt's original.

"Oh my God," my future wife said when "Angel Eyes" came up in the mix, "I love this song!"

That's what I knew I would marry her. Whether she wanted to or not. (I think she did...unless of course these 22 years have been part of a long con...if so, all I can say is "Well played, m'lady.")

"Angel Eyes" became the first dance at our wedding and the song that basically came to define us to each other. John Hiatt wrote it for his own, and that's awesome. But this isn't John's song anymore. It's ours.

Girl you're looking fine tonight,
And every fella has got you in his sight.
What you're doing with a clown like me
Is surely one of life's little mysteries.

So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?
"What did I do? What did I say?
To turn your angel eyes my way?"

I'm the guy who never learned to dance
Who never even got one second glance
Across the crowded room was close enough
I could look but I could never touch.

So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?
"What did I do? What did I say?
To turn your angel eyes my way?"

Don't anyone wake me if it's just a dream,
Because she's the best thing ever happened to me.
All you fellows, well you can look all you like,
'Cause this girl you see is leaving here with me tonight.

There's just one more thing I need to know.
If this is love, why does it scare me so?
It must be something only you can see,
'Cause girl I feel it when you look at me.

So tonight I'll ask the stars above,
"How did I ever win your love?
"What did I do? What did I say?
To turn your angel eyes my way?"

This song is about the win, the win you never thought you'd get and maybe never thought you'd even deserve. But you got it, you won. We won.

Happy anniversary to the girl who turned her angel eyes my way.

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