From Jim in Montana comes this story of true love and devotion, and the importance of a song. It’s a great example of the power of music to express romance and emotion. Here’s Jim:
There are songs that are written, recorded, and made publicly available that are hits for a time, and then sink to the bottom, never to be heard again. Well, maybe it’ll be played on classic rock stations, but the original singer and/or writer is the only one you’ll hear the song sung by. Then there are those rare songs that become standards, songs that are sung by other artists long after the original first hit the airwaves and the public consciousness.
I know all this because I am a singer and a songwriter, and one of those perennial favorites that has has been a hit for several singers is a song close to my romantic heart and vitally important to my wife and to me – Make You Feel My Love. The original song came out in 1997, written and recorded by Bob Dylan, and was quickly covered by Garth Brooks, who made it a big hit on the country charts. Over the years, Billy Joel has also had a hit with the song, and recently so has a young British female singer named Adele. But ask my wife who sings it the best, and she’ll say – me.
When Rae and I met, we were both married to other people, at least on paper. We had been struggling in our own ways and through our own trials and troubles to get free from bad marriages when we met and fell in love. I was in a band, and she was in the audience that night. She came right up to the stage and asked if she could sing harmony on a song or two. I said sure, why not, and our history and story began. My divorce became final a few months later, and hers took a bit longer, but we were together as a committed couple pretty quickly. We had a lot in common, but the most important was music – both a love for listening and a love for performing. We both enjoyed playing guitar, writing songs, and singing – and we started singing together in public as a duo.
When Dylan’s album came out in 1997, Rae and I were still in the throes of romantic love – the kind that makes you shiver to the touch of your lover, and makes you want to be together every day. When I heard the song, I knew that I wanted to learn it so I could sing it to her, as a personal romantic gesture. I practiced it on my own until I could manage fairly good rendition. I was amazed then, as I still am, at the intensity of devotion expressed by the simple but colorful and emotional lyrics. It was one of the most romantic songs Dylan had ever penned, and we were both big fans of his.
We were playing at a coffee house in our hometown when I sang the song for her. We were so much in love, and so happy to have found each other, that we felt like we were the luckiest two people in the world. We had already started writing love songs to each other, but I wanted to do something special for her. As we finished a set and Rae told the crowd it was break time, I told her I had a surprise for her. I had her sit down in front of the stage, and I sang the song to her, looking right into her eyes. I could see the tears welling up, and by the time I had finished, I think half of the audience (the women, I’m sure) was crying too. I told her that I loved her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, and that there was nothing that I wouldn’t do for her. With a little help from my old friend Bob, of course.