To Sir, With Love
My all-time favorite song. Released in 1967 as the theme song for the movie of the same title. I’ve never seen the movie, nor do I remember hearing this song as a child, though I’m sure that’s possible. It was the No. 1 single on Billboard charts the year it was released, and my parents listened to a lot of music. Sometime in my late teens, I heard the song and for whatever reason, it stuck in my brain. I loved it. The melody captivated, the lyrics read like poetry:
Those schoolgirl days,
of telling tales and biting nails are gone.
But in my mind,
I know they will live on and on
But how do you thank someone,
who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try.
If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
that would soar a thousand feet high.
To Sir, with Love.
The time has come,
For closing books and long last looks must end.
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend.
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
and weak from strong.
That’s a lot to learn.
What can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start,
But I would rather you let me give my heart.
To Sir, with Love.
On January 20, 1993 I settled on the couch to watch The Rock & Roll Inaugural Ball on MTV. I remember none of it except when Natalie Merchant and Michael Stipe took the stage and sang To Sir, With Love. It was a live performance and long before the DVR. Had I known, I would have recorded it on VHS, but all I got were those four minutes. It remains my favorite version. It became my mission to find out if a live recording would be released, but that would take time.
A couple of years later, my son handed me a wrapped gift. I can’t remember if it was my birthday or Christmas, but it was obviously a CD. There it was, an EP put out by 10,000 Maniacs which benefited “Rock the Vote,” and included the live recording that I had only heard once. I put in on to listen and then pressed Repeat. To this day, I don’t care about the other three songs on the CD.