When a Percy Sledge song hits your ears, it can settle in your heart

The sad news of the death of singer Percy Sledge brought back memories for me, as I’m sure it did for most of you. His remarkable voice delivered unforgettable songs, one of which stirred recollections of a simple shopping trip. The rest of this column is what I wrote about that incident many years ago:

Music is a funny thing. It can draw you out onto the dance floor, drive you out of the embassy where you’re holed up, deafen you when it’s too loud, push you to road rage when it’s too obnoxious.

Music also can bring back memories stashed away deep in your head and heart, stir feelings you had left behind when you were someone else, take you back to that first time you heard it or the time you heard it while you were with someone special.

Recently, I was in an incompetent carpentry state of mind, but that’s the only kind of carpentry I know. I was working on a surprise for my wife for our anniversary: an arbor by the backyard fence where her wisteria could grow over, complete with a bench and places to hang other plants.

I had to get it done in one day, before she came home from work, but the job wasn’t going well. I was making up the plan as I went along, and as the sun climbed higher in the sky, I ran out of supplies.

I drove to the home improvement store to buy more screws and boards. While there I looked around to see what else I needed. I was near the back of the store, away from most other people. The elevator music coming from the store’s speakers faded out and was replaced by the decades-old When a Man Loves a Woman, by Percy Sledge.

The store’s ceiling was high, and the sound came down clear all around me as though angels were performing live in the rafters.

I hadn’t heard that song in a long time, and I had forgotten how beautiful Percy could sing. I stopped, looked upward toward the invisible angels, and slowly spun around and around so my ears would catch every note:

When a man loves a woman/Can’t keep his mind on nothing else./He’ll trade the world/for the good thing he’s found.

The song took me back to my dating years, and though I don’t remember the first time I heard it, I’ve always known it was the perfect song about devotion to the one you love. (It also was the greatest make-out song ever composed, but that’s another story.)

All too soon, the beautiful song ended, to be followed by another track from the latest Otis Elevator CD.

My brain returned to the present, my eyes focused on my surroundings and I realized I was in an enormous store full of fence boards and toilet-repair kits. The angels were gone, but for about three minutes I had been in heaven.

I bought my boards and drove home. The rest of the day, while I built that imperfect anniversary arbor, flowed like music, and I might have actually whistled while I worked.

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

More in Life

Appease your child’s picky palate with these tasty Tater Tots. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tots to be thankful for

Two years ago, I spent the entirety of Thanksgiving Day in my green rocking chair, cradling my newborn son.

File
Minister’s Message: Keep in step

Sometimes it takes going half way around the world to learn how to “keep in step” as I journey.

Shelli and Mike Gordon pose in October 2011 at their Halibut Cove, Alaska, home in an Alaska Gothic version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gordon)
‘Dagnabit’ features tales of ’80s wild Alaska

Gordon’s second book also tells of Ruben Gaines, creator of Chilkoot Charlie.

Before boiling, this handmade pasta is rolled, cut and tossed in flour to keep from sticking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Pasta by hand

Learning one of the most important task of the Italian kitchen: making the pasta.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
The Great Thanksgiving dessert debate

Our holiday gathering is going to be smaller than it sometimes is, and it was argued that we didn’t need two desserts.

Dianne Spence-Chorman’s “Fig Study” is one of the works showing in the Homer Council on the Arts “Fun wtih 5x7” show through Dec. 22, 2021, at the gallery in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Fun with 5×7’ offers affordable art

HCOA annual art show presents art in a variety of media, all in 5x7 format.

Make pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes for a decadent fall treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: In honor of ‘Cupcake Mondays’

Pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes brighten up the dreariest of work.

Nick Varney
Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Back off, Zeus

If this wet-n-warm, freeze, then start again, continues much longer, Kachemak Drive will need a complete redo.

The cover of Tom Kizzia’s book, “Cold Mountain Path,” published by Porphyry Press in October 2021. (Photo provided)
‘Cold Mountain Path’ explores ghost town history of McCarthy

Kizzia’s book looks at McCarthy history from 1938 to the town’s revival as a tourist destination.

Melinda Hershberger works on her installation for the Kenai Art Center’s collaborative mural project on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Wall-to-wall creativity

Artists collaborate on a single mural at the Kenai Art Center this month.

This spectacular and simple marshmallow recipe is an easy way to wow at holiday potlucks. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Power puffs

Don’t dread the dreaded potluck with this five-ingredient marshmallow recipe.

In this 1950s image, Chell Bear (left) and Lawrence McGuire display a stringer of small trout they caught through the ice in front of the homestead cabin of Bob Mackey, for whom the Mackey Lakes were named. (Photo courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula College Historic Photo Repository)
History with a sense of humor, Part 2

The second in a two-part collection of humorous tales gleaned from old newspapers on the central Kenai Peninsula.