Miss Music Nerd’s First Musical Crush, Revisited

Here’s a piece I wrote in response to Salon writer Tracy Clark-Flores’ invitation, "Share your childhood crush.” Crossposted at open.salon.com.

I like to start each day by playing a ridiculously cheerful song to combat my usual morning sluggishness. For a long time, I used Barry Manilow’s "Daybreak." Then one day, I had a hankering to hear "You Make My Dreams," by Hall & Oates. I searched for it on YouTube, and found that I’m partial to the Keyboard Cat-enhanced version.

When I was in the eighth grade, I was completely and totally in love with Daryl Hall. The combination of his tall, blond good looks and soulful voice was exotic and fascinating to a young girl who looked like his musical partner John Oates’ only slightly less swarthy little sister. I would sit in my bedroom and play my Hall & Oates cassettes over and over, singing along obsessively, my reedy, teen-girl voice matching Daryl’s blue-eyed-soul falsetto note for note. I would lip-sync in front of the mirrored closet doors in my parents’ bedroom, fantasizing that I had displaced Oates from the duo and was performing triumphantly alongside my love. (As an aspiring musician, I didn’t understand that a fangirl’s place was in the front row, not on stage.)

MrsLEHallI collected all the photos of Daryl I could find from magazines. It was a challenge; at that time, girls my age were more likely to pine for Matt Dillon or Scott Baio. My discovery of a new cable channel called "MTV" helped my cause considerably; I distinctly remember one evening when a Hall & Oates video came on, and I flew off the couch to kiss the TV, forgetting, until my head began to spin, that I was nursing a flu.

That summer, my older brother took pity on me and drove me to the Concord Pavilion to see Hall & Oates perform – my first rock concert, and the thrill of my life up to that point. I bought a white muscle T-shirt with "Hall & Oates: H2O" emblazoned on it in red and black letters – not the right style for a 12-year-old girl, but they didn’t sell a pink one that said “I Love Daryl Hall More Than Oxygen!!!”

When I got to high school, I learned that liking Hall & Oates was just one of many, many things that made me deeply uncool. I drifted, idol-less, for a time, until I found New Wave and was plunged into the perilous and confusing world of infatuation with androgynous men who used more makeup and hair product than I did. I poured my own creative energies into practicing the piano and participating in choir and music theatre at school, where my tragically underdeveloped gaydar would set me up for repeated heartache.

It wasn’t until after college that my old flame rekindled, if only for a moment. On a plane ride home from New York to attend my brother’s wedding, I was copying out a piece of music I had composed for the ceremony. The flight attendant saw me hunched over my score paper and said, “Oh, we have a lot of musicians on this flight –– Daryl Hall is in first class!”

“Daryl Hall?” I said, feeling my very soul begin to buzz.”Oh my God, I love him! Can I go say hello to him?”

“Uh, well, just make it quick,” said the flight attendant, very much regretting his garrulousness, I suspect.

Miraculously, I was able to tiptoe into first class unimpeded; my quivering excitement must have amplified my already awesome powers of inconspicuousness. I shifted to uncommon boldness once I acquired my target. There he was, in the flesh, my dreamboat, and he looked… tired and irritable.

I was undeterred. “Um, hi… I, um, really like your music, and I was totally in love with you in the eighth grade, and, um… I’m a musician, too! Can I have your autograph?”

He looked at me as if he would have liked nothing better than to hit me with a brick, but he took the piece of score paper I held out, scrawled on it quickly without looking at it, and handed it back to me.

“Thanks!” I squeaked, and skittered away giddily.

Autograph FacsimileI hung onto that piece of score paper for years, but after several interstate moves and the commingling of my belongings with my husband’s, I can no longer lay hands on it. Seeing young Daryl Hall’s baby face and lanky frame in that video brought back more than just the memory of meeting him, though; I was struck by the uncanny resemblance between Daryl and the guy I dated right before I met my husband. Suddenly, my freakish devotion to this guy who, as all my friends tried desperately to make me understand, was utterly wrong for me, devotion that was only dislodged after repeated, painful breakups, made a wee bit more sense.



Miss Music Nerd’s First Musical Crush, Revisited — 2 Comments

  1. MMN, as always, I really enjoyed reading this piece. And thank you for putting Matt Dillon before Scott Baio. 🙂