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Beautiful People

Feb 22 2019

40 years ago I entered my college bookstore in Farmington, Maine to buy my first semester's texts at the start of Freshman year. A discount record bin caught my eye, and it was then that I discovered Woodstock icon Melanie for the first time. Although I had read about her in a book of female folk singers, unlike Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins and others in the book, Melanie was someone I was not familiar with. That day in 1979 I went out on a limb and spent $5 for her "Melanie at Carnegie Hall" two record album, and my taste in music was changed forever.


It actually took me a while to warm up to her throaty, croaky vocals and simple guitar strumming, but the more chances I gave the album,, the more I liked it. The song that first won me over was her signature song "Beautiful People":

Beautiful people,
You live in the same world as I do
But somehow I never noticed
You before today
I'm ashamed to say
Beautiful people
We share the same back door
And it isn't right
We never met before
But then
We may never meet again
If I weren't afraid you'd laugh at me
I would run and take all your hands
And I'd gather everyone together for a day
And when we gather'd
I'll pass buttons out that say


Beautiful people
Then you'd never have to be alone
'Cause there'll always be someone
With the same button on as you
Include him in everything you do.
Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do ev'ry morning
That's got to tell you something
We've got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me
Maybe I'll take care of you

Idealistic lyrics written when the singer was only a 16 year old high school girl, but wonderful in their heart and simplicity. So when our youngest daughter, Rose, decided she would use this song for her modern dance solo during her final season of dance comp, I was both pleased and nostalgic. She and her instructor chose a live version almost identical to the one on the album I bought 40 years ago, and the choreography is both innovative and, well, beautiful. So much so, in fact, that Rose's piece won first place for senior modern solos in her first competition of the season. It also earned her sixth place overall.


Besides the sentimentality of the song, I am so pleased with her choice because it has such a positive, hopeful message. So many of the dancers chose either overly introspective, self indulgent songs or songs heavy on self pity in a world that "just doesn't understand me, you know what I'm saying?" In other words, typical teen-angst laden themes that have been part on the music scene forever. Rose chose something different, and that makes me very proud.


Besides this solo, she was in a duet that placed 4th overall for duets/trios
as well as four group pieces. There are two more competition weekends this season, and I'll find another time to blog about her duet; it deserves it's own column.

But the thing I love best about these weekends is the comradery of the girls on her team. There are four teens who have been dancing together for a long time, and a crew of younger dancers who all look up to them. This is great as all four are excellent role models both inside the studio and out. Part of me can't wait for the next two competitions, and at the same time, I never want them to come, as this will be Rose's last year before she, herself, is a freshman college next fall. May she find blessings in the discount bins.

Rose, you are truly a beautiful person.




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