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Love In The Key Of Summer

Kevin Gibbs (playing piano) met his first love while playing in a summer concert series in 1976.
Courtesy of Kevin Gibbs
Kevin Gibbs (playing piano) met his first love while playing in a summer concert series in 1976.

Earlier this summer, Weekend Edition asked you to send us your tales for our Summer Love series. Some were funny, some were steamy and some even tearful.

Listener Kevin Gibbs remembers a woman he met when working at a jazz club in 1976. He'll always associate that summer crush with Michel Legrand's "Once Upon a Summertime."

I was born legally blind. I was also blessed with a talent for playing piano. For the first 17 years of my life, I viewed the world through these two competing, coexisting prisms. That is, until that magical night in June of 1976 when three simple yet powerful words touched my life as only they can the first time you hear them meant only for you.

M, the girl at the center of my story, was an usher at a jazz concert series held at her public high school. I was often an audience member and sometimes a warmup performer at this series.

I was introduced to M by a mutual friend who attended the same school. It was every high school kid's dream. "There's a pretty girl who wants to meet you." Eventually phone numbers were exchanged and I called. We hit it off and were dating for several months when this magic memory came to be.

Stan Kenton and The Four Freshmen had just played the last concert of the season. M and I stood outside the stage door on one of those dream perfect summer nights. We held each other close and I heard her whisper, "I love you."

My world would never be the same. Suddenly, instead of being the blind kid who played the piano well, I was just a guy who loved a girl, like all of human history had done before, and all of posterity would do after. I felt as if I had miraculously been made whole beyond my wildest dreams.

We spent some three years together. They are among the most wonderful memories of my life. I recently had the opportunity to reconnect with M and tell her just how much our time together meant to me then, and means to me still.

In the intervening years, I have been fortunate to enjoy a successful musical career and a wonderful marriage to a woman for whom my heart was truly meant. M, for her part, also went on to marry and raise a family of her own. But I believe that everything good that has happened to me since that night owes a powerful foundational debt to that first experience of love so long ago.

There is a song by the great composer, Michele Legrand. The English title is, "Once Upon a Summertime." The last lines of the lyrics say it all:

"Now, another wintertime has come and gone.
The pigeons feeding in the square have flown.
but I'll remember, when the vespers chime,
You loved me once upon a Summertime."

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