A Beautiful Start to Today   5 comments


I have loved this song since it first hit the airwaves in the spring of 1968. It went to Number 1 on the Billboard Top 40 that summer and stayed in that position for four weeks. Whenever this song would come on the radio, I would crank up my little 9-volt transitor radio or turn up the car radio as I rode next to one of my parents. My eyes would close and I’d just swoon to this heartwrenching melody.

I turned 13 that summer, and it was one of the most painful summers of my life. I had lost a 19-year-old brother in January of that year during the infamous Tet Offensive, just one of the thousands of casualties of the Vietnam War. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April of that year, spawning riots in major U.S. cities. Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States in March and began his 87-day campaign. It ended on the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night he won the California primary, and he died 25 hours later from the gunshot wound to his head inflicted by Sirhan B. Sirhan.

I loved Bobby Kennedy. I wanted him to stop the Vietnam War and bring our troops home. I wanted the death and destruction to stop. I was only in 7th grade, but I was fervently behind his run for the Presidency. My heart swelled when I saw newsclips of him on the campaign trail, reaching out to the crowds, the crowds grasping his hands, touching his back, his arms, whatever they could reach. He was going to be our next President, a man who cared about the most needy members of our country, a man who could help to heal the vicious wounds of an undeclared and savage war.

And then it was over. Just. Over. He was dead. At 42-years-old, he left behind a pregnant wife, ten kids, and stunned, grieving supporters.

And I remember this song in the background of that summer.

Everything is more vivid, more poignant when you’re an adolescent. Everything is happening for the first time, and it will never be that way again. The joy is brighter, the love is richer, the sorrows more profound. Every emotion is sharper and more exquisitely experienced.

I turned the radio on in my car this morning, set to my new favorite station LOVE 105 FM. This was the first song I heard this morning as I backed out of the driveway, followed by On Top of the World, a perky song by Karen Carpenter. I felt the tug of those emotions again. It was a faint pull, the intensity dampened by the years, by cynicism, fatigue and too much experience. But I allowed myself to close my eyes and swoon for a few seconds to some long-buried memories and hopes and dreams. Then I opened my eyes and joined the flow of traffic into the city, leaving that poignant summer of 1968 and its shattered illusions behind.

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Posted October 6, 2008 by StPaulieGrrl in Daily Life

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5 responses to “A Beautiful Start to Today

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  1. What a lovely song and a very touching, beautifully written post.

    Thank you.

  2. Thank you for reading through it, Lottie. I found it to be a very rambling post once I was done writing it. It was sort of a “stream of consciousness” post. I didn’t know where I was going with it other than to recall memories of a certain era in my life. Music has that profound ability to stir those memories in me.

  3. It didn’t seem rambling at all to me, but rather nicely written.

    Music is very powerful to me too.

    We just keep finding more and more in common, don’t we?

  4. Bonnie, They were sad times and happy too. I also love this song. Love reading your blogs. Just wish I was as good as a writer. Love,Belle

  5. Belle, the music was good from 1968. I don’t remember too much else that was good about that year, to be honest. On top of the social climate — the Vietnam War, the protests and demonstrations, the assassinations, and the racial tensions and riots — things were bad at home, and I had my first major depressive episode during the following school year. You had your young kids at that time, only 3 years old and a year old, and another one soon on the way. It was a different time of life for you and had its joyful events.

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