It was a Thursday night back in the mid 90s and I was playing a coffee house gig with a guitar and a couple of notebooks of songs. It was a tiny joint, so it was easy to fill it. That night, the only people I knew in the audience were sitting near the stage. In fact, I didn’t recognize the girl at first, a pretty brunette with green eyes in her late 20s. She was with an artist friend of mine. (Later I’d realize I met them both 4 or 5 years before at small party where I ended up talking to them for a couple hours. Sometimes I can be a bit oblivious.)
As I worked my way haphazardly through an impromptu set, I played my song, “Fell,” which is, pretty much, about suicide.
At the end of it, in the lull after the applause (which was thunderous, I gotta tell ya, especially since the whole place probably held a max of 14 or 15 people), this pretty girl looked straight at me and said, “Don’t you just feel like that sometimes?”
I said, yeah, you bet, then caught myself and muttered something about permanent solutions to a temporary problems.
After my set, I sat down at their table. After my friend introduced her as his ex-girlfriend, I all but ignored him, falling into her green eyes that seemed to dance with warmth and life. It’s safe to say I was captivated. I fabricated some way of giving her a business card and I felt like I’d hear from her.
Several days went by and I found myself at the computer, a guitar in my lap, writing this song. I came up with some moody synth cello lines and, tweaking sounds back and forth almost at random, came up with an eery gliss motif. (You can hear the ‘studio version’ at my one blue nine soundclick page.)
As I worked back and forth with the guitar and the computer, writing the MIDI arrangement, I came up with the words below, more or less a single stanza and chorus. It captured the feel and I figured I would come back in the next few days and finish the lyrics.
I didn’t know exactly where I thought the lyrics would go. It seemed clear to me that they were about a young girl, deep sadness, and maybe suicide.
Although the pretty brunette with the green eyes had been on my mind, the song wasn’t about her and I certainly hadn’t consciously decided to write another song about suicide. But in the back of my head, I know I was hoping I might get a chance to share the new song and recording with her. I really felt like something was around the corner.
But I didn’t hear from her.
Life presented other distractions and it wasn’t until later in the week that I bumped into my friend, the green-eyed girl’s ex. He was ashen, somber.
I asked him what was wrong and he said, remember the girl I brought to see you the other night? She’s dead.
My blood felt like icewater going through me. I looked at the coffeehouse table we were sitting at. I felt strange and cut off. All I could think was suicide. I didn’t say anything.
It was weird, my friend was saying. She was cooking dinner for friends the previous Sunday (the very afternoon I was writing “Jennifer”) and the friends came over a little after the appointed time — but she didn’t answer the door. This was before cell phones were prevalent and they walked down to a nearby liquor store to call but there was no answer. They walked back, thinking maybe she’d had to make a quick trip to the market to pick up a last minute ingredient.
When they got back, they thought they smelled food burning and pressed up against a window. They saw what looked like someone lying in the kitchen and called the police.
Do they know, I finally asked, do they know what killed her?
She’d had trouble with depression before, my friend said (and, of course, as I’d suspected from her comments after “Fell”) but she’d seemed so upbeat and positive lately. He didn’t want to think it was suicide but…
It was over a week later when I found out the results from the coroner’s inquest. It was her heart. She’d had a congenital defect no one knew about. There may have been complications from medication she’d been taking.
I’d been resisting the idea that my song might have played a part in a tragic dialectic and I finally was able to breathe a sigh of relief — but it trailed into a sigh of deep sadness. I’ll never forget those eyes… and how I thought — for a few moments — I’d be staring deep into them for eternity.
I never finished the song…
I swear it’s not your fault
It’s always been the same
It’ll always be this way
Jennifer youre not to blame
Jenifer you’re not to blame
Jennifer you’re not to blame
Jennifer you’re not to blame
Jenifer youre not to blame
(C)1996, TK Major