Imagine Me And You And You And Me…

Beth and me running

The Wall Street Journal published a great piece this week by author Ann Packer about her special bond with the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young classic hit “Our House”–how it gave her a feeling of warmth and security about her family and life in general at the age of 11.

The song from my youth was “Happy Together,” by the Turtles.

When I was eight and that song was a hit, my mom and I took a lot of trips from our home in Vermont to visit my grandfather in Connecticut. I’d curl up in the back seat of our evergreen Volkswagen bug. Whenever that song came on (and it happened a LOT that year when it spent three weeks at #1), my spirits would elevate.

My grandfather had been my dad, essentially, for the first six or seven years of my life when we lived with him. He would have just turned 49 when I came into his life. And when circumstances brought us together into the same household, it was as if it was always supposed to be that way.

He was a friendly, intelligent small-business man, who believed in honesty, loved crossword puzzles, and was good with his head and hands figuring out and executing domestic projects. Even though I failed to pick up that handy thing, I got most of my skills and values from him, through a combination of genetics, observation, and osmosis.

We participated together in a YMCA program called Indian Guides. We all had names. Big Chief Reindeer and Little Chief Reindeer. Every week we met at someone’s house for fellowship and activities. At our house one week, we played Barrel Full of Monkeys, and had cider and donuts. Maybe the elders had something stronger. Who knows? In any case, he was the only grandfather in the group. But it didn’t matter to me.

And if it wasn’t joining me for Indian Guides, he was playing catch with me in the yard, taking me to Mets or Yankees games, or unleashing dazzling sleight-of-hand magic tricks right in front of my eyes. He was my hero.

So, after my mom and I moved back out on our own, the return trips to visit my grandfather were extra special. And so was “Happy Together.”

That song was transformative for me. The melody was so upbeat and the lyrics were hopeful and positive. It made me think of my bond with my grandfather. And it made me think of a special girl.

Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it’s only right
To think about the girl you love
And hold her tight, so happy together

Now, I didn’t really have a special girl in mind, riding along in the back seat of that VW, listening to the Turtles. She was just a concept, an eight-year old’s idea of a special girl.

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they tossed the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you and you for me
So happy together

The dice imagery really got me for some reason. It was kismet that would bring me and my special girl together some day. At the time, I just imagined that “she” was curled up with me in the back seat of that car, under a blanket, sharing secrets, perfect partners.

When you’re eight, that’s powerful stuff. In retrospect, of course, the whole “skies will be blue for all my life” thing is all very idyllic. My grandfather passed away after nearly 90 great years on the planet. I had my ups and downs in relationships, until just recently when I found “her.” That song by the Turtles still makes me think of my grandfather, the back seat of that VW, and my current good fortune. And it still makes me feel good.

How about your song?

Dave Coombs is a longtime morning radio personality, who believes strongly in the power of music.

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