I’m sure you get thousands of letters like the one I’m about to write here. So I hope you’ll forgive me if it sounds like I’m just adding my little voice to an already-huge choir. But I’ve enjoyed your voice in song for the past forty years, and I wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to perfect your musical talents, and then share them with the rest of us. I’ve read that it’s quite difficult for an artist to “make it” in the music business. So I’m grateful that you stuck it out long enough to become an international star, and that as such, your music made it here to America, where I’ve enjoyed it immensely.
I first became aware of you in 1970 at nine years of age, when a friend and I used to climb this cherry tree in his back yard. We’d sit on the biggest yet highest branches we could find, as your hit Which Way You Going Billy played on his old tube-type radio in the kitchen window nearby. I didn’t know at that time that this was a deeply sad song, for I had only just finished third grade; I just enjoyed the melodies and harmonies.
Then, later that hot summer, as the cherries ripened, I fumbled in the dark with this palm-sized transistor radio when sleep would not come one night, when I happened to hear your followup single: That’s Where I Went Wrong. I was transfixed! The reverb they added to your voice gave you a decidedly angelic sound that riveted me to my pillow with the radio underneath – so my parents wouldn’t hear that I was still awake way past my bedtime. Most times, it takes me several listens to begin to like a song. But all it took was just that first time with this one, and the tune has remained easily recallable ever since. I stayed up for a couple hours after, tuning the dial, hoping to hear you again.
As you know, That’s Where I Went Wrong was not as big a hit here in the US as Which Way You Going Billy. But nonetheless, it was my favorite song of that summer; and I only heard it once! In fact, it would be thirty years before I’d hear it a second time; though I never forgot it.
I tried finding the record through the years, but had no idea what the song was called or who it was by even. I’d never seen pictures of you and the Poppy Family, and so couldn’t describe you to anyone. So numerous record store clerks looked at me like I was nuts when I’d ask them if they’d ever heard of that song where the girl says that she went wrong, and sings about a bus being awfully cold and wanting to go to sleep for a while.
But in 2000, while listening to a local oldies station, they played it, and as soon as you sang those first few notes as in “Ha ha ha haaaaa, haaa ha ha haaaa,” I knew it instantly. Fortunately, when it ended, the DJ said the title and the group, and shortly thereafter, I eagerly purchased a greatest-hits CD that contained that doleful yet mesmerizing piece.
The album also included a picture of you, in which you appeared every bit as angelic as you sounded. I was pleased, for I’d guessed you to be stunning three decades earlier. But until 2000, there was no clear imagery. I had no face to put with the voice. So it was just a pleasant feeling that always accompanied the playing of that song; like, “I’d sure enjoy spending time with a lady who sounds like that.”
I was certain that it must have been a beautiful woman that was singing the work; though I’d never seen her before. Then, when I finally saw your likeness for the first time, it was abundantly clear that your voice had effectively conveyed your splendor. People didn’t need to see you to know that you were attractive, and I didn’t need to see you, to know that I wanted to find a girlfriend someday who could sing something like you.
Well, I never found a lady who could sing That’s Where I Went Wrong as enchantingly as you. But hearing you in those early years either helped me define (or discover) the sorts of women I’d likely think the most appealing, and your work may have influenced my choices of music to listen to as well (I later found and loved your Where Evil Grows hit too).
Anyway, I’m rambling, so I’d best end this. But I always wanted to write you and thank you for your effort and the music that resulted, and was thus thrilled to find you on Facebook. It’s good that you’re still around, and that technology has finally enabled me to communicate with you, and express my sincerest appreciation for what you did so long ago, and how it still thrills me to this day.
PS: I think I’ll go listen to that song now.