“Don’t play that song for me/‘cuz it brings back memories/Of the day that I once knew/The day I spent with you”
— Lyrics written by Betty Nelson and Ahmet Ertegun; song interpreted by Aretha Franklin
I love music. There are some songs that when they come on, from the very first note, it’s like a religious experience. For me, these songs include “Everyday is like Sunday” by the Smiths; “Everyday I Write the Book” by Elvis Costello; “Take it to the Limit” by the Eagles and, going way back, “Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley. Those songs have literally worked their way down into my soul.
Another song that’s just magical for me is Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey.” I think I may have heard it first on the 70s music channel or during the closing credits of 1997 film starring Peter Fonda, “Ulee’s Gold.” I love everything about the song, from the acoustic guitars to the flutes playing the delicate melody.
And though I love the almost-seven minute song, it’s not an easy one to slow dance to, as I found out.
I hadn’t listened to “Tupelo Honey” since the night of November 3, 2001. That’s a long time to go without hearing one of your favorite tunes.
I played it recently and it triggered all sorts of strong memories and emotions in me. It continues to be one of my favorites. I love the lyrics, “You can’t stop us, on the road to freedom, you can’t stop us, ‘cuz our eyes can see, men within sight, men in granite, knights in armor intent on chivalry.”
The last time I listened to that song, and tried to dance to it, was on the night of my wedding. It was the song that I danced to with my father, Robert Dale Carter, who’s been gone now for more than four years.
Is there anything more special to a woman than dancing with her father on her wedding day? I can’t think of many moments more poignant than that.
My relationship with my father, to put in simple terms, was complicated. My father never expressed emotions very well. And it was always difficult for me to talk to him and relate to him.
It’s even more difficult to write about him, considering my complicated emotions I have over my dad. I spent so many years being angry at my father for what he couldn’t express to me. He was a man beset by issues that kept him from expressing things that he felt.