Back when I was in high school you could make prank phone calls with relative impunity (i.e., caller ID hadn't yet been invented), and sometimes I made friends (or even a girlfriend in one case; story for another time) that way. I struck up a friendship with a lady I met through a random call, and we used to talk about music and such. Among one of the bands/albums she recommended was Yaz's Upstairs At Eric's. I was looking for new sounds at the time, so I gave it a shot. And I liked it: Good, inventive but uncomplicated songs with incredible vocals backed by clunky first-generation synthesizers that still sounded like they were from the future even a decade later. But time moved on, my tastes changed, and I more or less forgot about it for years....
That is, until Dani and I happened across the BBC version of The Office. All of a sudden Only You by Yaz comes back into my life at just the right and most beautiful moment in the series. As per my policy with all things media, I won't give away any spoilers, but its effect was that Dani and I were sitting there on the couch bawling with joy at this perfect scene. Moments like these are the blacksmith's forge in which associations are formed, and you move beyond them forever referring to their musical accompaniment as "Our Song."
Several years later, in assembling the makings of what I now refer to as The Greatest Proposal Story Ever, I knew exactly what the soundtrack would be to that event, and nothing else but Only You would have suited as well for all the reasons outlined above. Everything came together beautifully. Dani was surprised, and it was perfect.
When we were planning the wedding, that was naturally the song we wanted for our first dance. Dani thought I had the song queued on the laptop to play. She waited for someone to start it, but instead the band sat down and picked up their instruments. I never told her I had them learn it. Weeks earlier I had sent them the sheet music and a couple mixes of the track for them to adapt as a guitar duo arrangement. Again, Dani was surprised, and it was perfect.
Months go by, and I learn that the fractious and short-lived pairing of Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet has reunited as Yaz only 25 years after the fact. I can only assume that, upon hearing that Dani and I actually made a go of it, they decided they could too. I keep this a secret. I avoid referencing the band for fear she'll find out there's a tour gearing up. When we were in California last month, Dani was sitting next to me when I had to hurriedly flip past a full-page ad in the LA Weekly advertising an earlier date they were playing out there.
It isn't a sure thing for a while, but finally, after rehearsing their way across Europe and both coasts here in the States, it is announced that they will indeed play for us in Dallas. Dani doesn't know any of this, of course. Aside from turning traffic lights from red to green by simply staring at them, my only other super power is the ability to surprise her. When the tickets arrive in the mail, I tuck them away out of sight until...
Tuesday evening I show up at her work just as she's getting ready to leave. "Put your shoes on," I say. This is our secret code for "I've got a surprise for you." Oh, and also I literally had shoes for her (and jeans and a t-shirt because I knew she wasn't going to want to wear her work clothes to a concert). We hop in the car and head out toward Dallas.
"You want Taco Bell," I ask her. This isn't code for anything other than that I'm a cheapskate and this is the closest I'll come to eating Mexican food.
"There's a Taco Bell over there," she tells me.
"I don't like that one," I say about each of them she suggests until we reach the one where we're picking up Erin (Queen of Synth Pop) on the way.
At this point Dani is convinced we're going to see The Dark Knight since I've been talking non-stop Batman for the past 24 hours, completely intentionally. If you've seen that other Nolan/Bale movie The Prestige, you know misdirection is the first step before you work your way up to this:
She sees the marquee: "YAZ TONITE!" She's surprised and it's perfect.
In fact, the whole night is perfect well beyond the reveal. Alison and Vince are terrific. The show is incredible. They sound GREAT. The visuals are amazing. We get excellent seats in the balcony (the "Old Lady Section" as Dani calls it) where we can see it all.
And, of course, they begin the encore with Only You (which sounded much, much better in person than this bootleg from that night):
Looking back, I don't think the universe goes out of its way to make things line up just for me. That's why I'm surprised when it's perfect.
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