Earlier this week, let’s say on Tuesday, my officemate connected her iPod to a speaker. She had downloaded new songs and wanted to share. “Do you know who Aaron Neville is?” She asked as one of his songs played on her iPod.
I laughed. “Yes, I know who Aaron Neville is.” What? Do I look like I live under a rock? He sings that one song that I liked. It was a theme from a movie. I couldn’t remember the song or movie so I kept my thoughts to myself.
“His looks don’t match his voice,” she continued and looked at her computer screen again. “He looks like he should be…” she lowered her voice in case she offended anybody walking down the hall of the office, “a truck driver.”
I looked out our door. Nope. No random truck drivers out there to be offended by her statement. But I nodded my head. She did have a point.
Fast forward to yesterday. I went to Albertsons to get the weekly groceries. When I approached the bottled water aisle, the old familiar strains of “What becomes of the brokenhearted?” started playing on the sound system. ‘Ooh, I remember this song and I liked it. Still do.’ I thought to myself.
Suddenly, I could remember when the song came out years ago. I danced to it in my basement while the video – which I could distinctly remember, played. The song was from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” and it was by Aaron Neville (don’t argue, just keep reading). ‘That’s funny,’ I thought, ‘we were just talking about him the other day.’ I wished I could have remembered this song so that when my officemate asked me her question, I could have answered with a ready reference. Oh well.
From my mom, I have inherited the ability to not know all the words to one complete song. I know a lot of snippets of songs. But I couldn’t tell you the lyrics from beginning to end for any song. Unlike my brother and younger sister, they can remember songs from their kindergarten days. I’ll admit it, I’m jealous. I get to do a lot of humming and word filling in when I get a song stuck in my head. Let me just say, lyricsondemand.com is one of the best inventions ever.
This song started a loop inside my head. “What becomes of the broken hearted?” I sang as I took the groceries out to the car. “I know I’ve got to find some kind of peace of mind,” I sang as I put the groceries away. The same two refrains played in my head as I prepared dinner. And again when I ironed.
Due to the fact I won my first game of Solitaire, I had some time to do some internet surfing last night. The song was now annoying me. I have a theory that the only way to get a song out of my head is to listen to it. So I googled it. The first three hits were videos for Jimmy Ruffin, Joan Osborne, and Paul Young.
“That’s odd,” I said to myself. “Where’s Aaron Neville’s cover?” I clicked on the more video link and went through all the versions. None were Aaron Neville’s. I went back to the first page and looked at the choices again. First, I clicked on Jimmy Ruffin’s video. Same song, just an older version (okay, I guess the original). I backtracked again. I knew it wasn’t a woman singing the version I liked so I skipped Joan Osborne’s cover. That left Paul Young. I clicked on his version and a movie poster of “Fried Green Tomatoes” popped up. This is the version I heard in the store and the one I liked so many years ago.
Oooh. Aaron Neville never sung the song. Paul Young did. If you have never seen a picture of Paul Young let me describe him this way, he is pretty much the opposite of Aaron Neville. They don’t sound anything like each other…now. In my defense, Paul Young doesn’t look like his voice should come out of him either. I’m not saying Aaron Neville’s voice should come out of him, I’m just saying his voice doesn’t match his body either. So, that’s one thing they do have in common.
Now that that is clarified, I just have one last question. What video did I watch so many years ago and that I remember so clearly?
4 thoughts on “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?”
Is it one that you have watched often or one that you haven’t seen in a long time?
Uh, considering I didn’t even have the right singer, I’d say, it’s one I made up in my head… 😉
Soooooo, I’ve had the same experience, with the same song, multiple times, and I adore you and am a bit indebted to you for writing about it. Your post is so very affirming and comforting (and if you’re searching or have ever searched for this particular song, how could you not need a little of both).
First, respect and sincere gratitude to Jimmy Ruffin and the writers of the blues-grade batch of medicine that is this song.
Second, respect to Paul Young who sang the hell out of it in his turn.
Now, I found your musing because the song came to me again and, despite having gone down this rabbit hole before, I found myself compelled to search for the truth I knew in my bones – that Aaron Neville version is out there somewhere, even if it got buried for some music business politics or mafia-type reason or by some tragic accident of history.
I feel like I watched a special or something. I can see the one and only Aaron Neville on a stool, in a dark room or bar, with a brick wall perhaps, in the background – little bricks. I see the emotion on his face as he lives and breathes the song, on that stool, not frozen, but without a lot of movement. I can see it. I can hear him. Is this an imagining? Or did we watch the same VH1 special or pbs documentary or something? I cannot say.
What I do know is that on some elemental level, in some universe, this exists. Aaron Neville covered Jimmy Ruffin’s song. And even if we never find it again, like Narnia, we should be grateful for that moment that we lived and get to return to, however obscured in mist by time and doubt. We feel it, we can just make it out in the distance. And so it is.
Finally, Fried Green Tomatoes marked many of us. And I can’t remember the full lyrics to most songs either. Thanks for creating a little home or welcome mat for similarly-abled folk. :o) If there were a button or hashtag for such a group of people, I’d be about it.
Wow! I had no idea I might actually be right – sort of. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have someone with the same notion. Glad you found me! Thanks for reading and commenting.