The other day I had a go at Carpenters' timeless classic "For All We Know", the first time I had sung that song in over 30 years. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could still recall the lyrics with ease.
Way back in the late 60s and early 70s, that song, along with a few other hits by Carpenters and Anne Murray, was a staple in my meagre repertoire as a teenage vocalist in a small-town band in Dungun.
We sang a lot of Malay numbers then, only because our most frequent gigs were weddings. It was only when we had the occasional opportunity to perform on stage in public, usually as a prelude to some government-sponsored concerts, that English numbers, mostly those by The Beatles and Bee Gees, saw the light of day.
I remember only too well why I quit singing "For All We Know"; it was the ex's "theme song" with his Aussie girlfriend, the one he had harboured hopes of marrying. Circumstances saw that hope dashed, and he returned home alone upon completing his studies.
He came clean about it, but only when I found her photograph with the lyrics scribbled behind it, while sorting out his piles of books and things. Long after we parted ways, I still balked at singing that song, until last week. Perhaps it was a closure of some sort.
I am pretty sure we all share similar experiences when we were young and carefree and madly in love. Many of us would have had our own special songs, usually those saccharine-sweet, sentimental love ballads that had the innate ability to turn the best of us into blathering fools.
And then, when for some reasons the relationship came to grief, we found that we just couldn't bear to hear that special 'our song' anymore without feeling like strangling the erstwhile suitor or the singer, or both.
All through my colourful life, only two songs had affected me so, and for markedly different reasons. Besides "For All We Know", there was a pointed reminder in the form of Mac Davis' somewhat selfish "Baby, Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me."
Here's an interesting take on that second tune; I met the one-time steady again two years ago after a lapse of 36 years (we dated briefly at the tail end of 1973). It was a chance meeting at a golf club; I was attending the wedding of a niece and he was checking out the club membership with a view of becoming one.
A recently-retired army general, the Datuk, now with grandkids, looked as spiffy as ever. We had a good laugh over our brief and completely innocent courtship. He was then my eldest brother's best buddy, thus toed the line religiously (or risk bodily harm, I'd think!)
Come to think of it, maybe that was why he finally called it quit; that friendship with the brother had left him with no room for 'creative maneuverings' with the sister! Dumped me he did, for "Miss Chinatown" no less (and I kid you not).
Months before giving me the boot, however, he started playing "Baby, Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" each time we got together. A good strategist he was; at 21, he was preparing my 19 year-old heart for the inevitable breakup.
This may sound laughable by today's standard, but our courtship was conducted almost entirely under the watchful eyes of his parents and two sisters. They were extremely nice people for sure, and I guess they wanted only the best for their only son and brother.
We would sit together and play his records on the turntable, and I would join them for meals before he sent me home to my aunt's at the prescribed hours, and not a minute longer. That was how chaste the whole courtship was; small wonder he felt so stifled.
Being dumped was not a pleasant thing to happen to anyone and at any age, more so if the 'dumper' was your brother's best friend. But losing out to a pliable beauty queen proved to be a lot less painful than I had imagined; perhaps because I wasn't ready to be a 'big girl' any time soon....