June 23, 2012
So now, within the Library of Congress walls, there will be Melanie music. I performed at an ASCAP event called “We Write the Songs” alongside of Stephen Schwartz, Valerie Simpson and Irving Burgie. It was an honor for me to be recognized as a songwriter. The main message of the event was the songwriter getting a spotlight on them for what they do. In my case, as is with Valerie Simpson, I became known as the girl who sang the songs, not the girl who wrote them. Not until later, did anyone mention in the press that I wrote the songs. It was before there was a term or genre of singer-songwriter. Occasionally, people would say “the female Bob Dylan” leaving me to ponder whether he was ever called “the male Melanie.”
So here I am. One of the event coordinators had me pegged as a time-hog when she heard my rehearsal with the band. The original version was an 8-minute record. I had, for this performance, cut it down to about 5 minutes. “It’s too long, too long! I have eleven people who need to get their time.” So I have to cut Candles in the Rain to under 3 minutes, then was asked if I planned to talk. They had been told I wouldn’t speak, that I don’t ever speak. “Well, I’d like to say a few words,” I told her. “Keep it brief” she said. So with these time restrictions and warnings and the vision in my head of a mute Melanie who doesn’t speak, I went on. I sang my ass off (I wish) but didn’t get to project the true “what it is”...the me, who at birth took sworn oath to protect and project.
Thomas Jefferson smiled through one of the magnificent stained glass windows, smiled as I donated my songbook and sheet music, “Thank you, Melanie. I’ve been an admirer of both you and the male-Melanie for eons. Oh, and Melanie, never apologize for your performance. Yes, you were thrown off a bit, but you are a trooper. You too, Beau.” One whole day and night of Thomas Jefferson. We even stayed in his hotel, The Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson, I was told by the tourguide, was always broke and never bought the expensive British-published editions of his books for his library. His library contains the Dublin knockoffs.
If you go to Washington, do the Library of Congress tour. It’s not what you expect. The subtleties and intricacies, eclectic variety of what early America stood for, is well documented in art, sculpture and tributes to science. The intention to stand for the individual is unmistakable.
Well, I have a vision of this person telling me my time is up, my dear ones.