Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "The Most Beautiful Girl"
"Tell her I'm sorry
Tell her I need my baby"
That's the hook.
I hated country music in the seventies (the sixties too, unless you consider "King Of The Road" and "Dang Me" country, and exclude a few Johnny Cash numbers, and definitely not "A Boy Named Sue"). This was before it was classic rock lite, when strings were more prevalent than banjos, when it was a ghetto of shitkickers and big hair.
But then I heard Charlie Rich.
Going to college in Vermont was so different from living in Southern Connecticut, where we feasted on New York radio, with its legendary deejays on AM and then FM, with no need to listen to anything we didn't want to. Vermont was a vast wasteland of entertainment. There was one movie theatre. One fuzzy TV channel. And other than the college station, bland AM outlets that spoke to a populace that was not yet hip, and definitely not left wing. You got some Top Forty, some community service and country.
Driving through the landscape was an endless experience of reaching to the center of the dashboard to dial in something palatable, oftentimes something at all.
So I ended up hearing stuff I wouldn't have listened to otherwise, that I came to love. Like Jim Croce's "I Got A Name" and "The Most Beautiful Girl."
I was opened up by "Behind Closed Doors." Which I half liked. The verse bored me, but the chorus was so endearing. But I liked "The Most Beautiful Girl" throughout. I got to the point where I wanted to hear it.
At first I thought he was truly singing about a little girl. Hey, it was country, even back then they focused on family.
But not as much as drinking and love. Country people fought. And were not afraid of talking about it. Whereas up north we were too uptight to reveal our flaws.
I quickly learned "The Most Beautiful Girl" was a song of regret.
But I didn't know true regret at that time, there was no romance at the hothouse college I attended, most of what I knew about love was fantasy.
It starts with an acoustic guitar, a piano, you fall right into the groove.
"Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world"
They're beautiful to us. Don't denigrate yourself, what you believe are your imperfections are exactly why someone is going to love you, or already does.
"And if you did was she crying, crying"
It's conversational, as if you walked down the street and bumped into someone you knew, not even a close friend, who you listened to because of the sincerity of the question.
"I woke up this morning and realized what I had done"
If you haven't been here, I feel sorry for you. That means you're playing it too close to the vest, you're taking no risks. And if you do risk, say what you truly feel, sometimes you go over the line, and the other person reacts...and pulls away...and you feel so lonely.
"Tell her I'm sorry
Tell her I need my baby
Oh, won't you tell her that I love her"
He's telling everybody, but only one person really needs to hear.
Will she listen?
I'm not sure.
But we did.