The band was the most important thing in my life. And, here I sat, one week before one of our biggest gigs, watching it disintegrating. And, it was all my fault.
My name is Sara. Sara Keeling. I'm the keyboard player, and the lyricist. We call ourselves One Night Stand, a fitting name for a band, especially one that has three guys and three girls in it. We're all sophomores here at the University of Massachusetts, and the band got together right at the beginning of freshman year.
We started with five people. My best friend Amanda Wilson, she's the bass player. We had played in bands all through high school. There was another set of best friends who had played in bands in high school--Patrick Bowen, our lead guitarist, and Dave Schmidt, the drummer. And last, but certainly not least, there was Greg.
Greg Zelinsky. He played second guitar, and occasionally second keyboards. He also became one of our lead singers, along with Amanda. And, he's our chief composer. I had always written songs, but knew that my lyrics were better than my music. When I met Greg, he started putting my words to his own music. It wasn't until then that my lyrics started to truly sing. He's one of the most staggeringly gifted composers you'll ever meet. I know my words are good--I know that a lot of people identify with and can relate to what I'm trying to say--but they wouldn't be half as good without his music. Plus, he's a terrific singer.
We started rolling, back there a year and a half ago, and started getting good, and started getting gigs. We'd play whatever we felt like--our own stuff, old Beatles tunes, modern rock, whatever. It was an eclectic mix, and it was a lot of fun to do.
However, when we came back from Christmas break, Amanda let us all know that she wasn't happy with the situation. Specifically, she wasn't happy with doing so much of the singing. It was too much of a strain. We thought about carrying on with just Greg as the singer, but there really were a lot of songs in our repertoire that needed a female voice. Greg approached me--I can sing--but that would have put a lot of strain on me, too. Singing with some of the keyboard parts I had to play is hard.
So, this series of events is how Donna came to join us.
Donna Bellini. Blond, blue-eyed, big tits, a Barbie doll come to life, and she knew it. You know the type. The teasing blonde bombshell--that was Donna, to a T. And she could sing. I was wary about bringing her in, but I was outvoted.
If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have threatened to leave. At that point, it might have made a difference.
Sound-wise, it tightened us up in some ways. Freed from the demand of singing, Amanda proved what I had always known--that she was a genius with the bass guitar. Donna's bold, brassy voice got us some attention. Sometimes, it conflicted with the song--especially our own, as both Greg and I can get very subtle in our writing--but it was OK. Until I wrote "Destiny Delayed."
Greg came up with a wonderful, light, airy piece of music for it, and it seemed, instantly, to be the best song we ever wrote together. But it was light, subtle. I wanted Amanda to sing it. I approached her, and she agreed--one song would be fine. Greg thought it was a great idea.
Until Donna protested. Who was the female singer around here, anyway, she asked? Patrick backed her up. Then, to my utter shock, Greg backed her up, too.
That's when I saw it. Greg had the hots for Donna.
Patrick had from the start, I knew that. Dave didn't, because he had the hots for Amanda, who had the hots for Patrick. Yeah, it was tangled. Greg, before Donna joined and he became enmeshed in the whole thing himself, used to joke that we should call ourselves Fleetwood Mac Two. Now, he was involved himself.
Of course, he had been involved all along, he just didn't know it--because I think I fell in love with him almost right away. He never saw it. Of course, now he never was going to see it, because he was Blinded by Donna. And, since I'm shy when it comes to guys, I never could tell him. I'm not generally shy, it's the whole fear of rejection thing--in fact, Greg would not call me shy at all, we've had enough give and take over writing that he knows I can hold my own. However, when it comes to those little phrases: "I like you, Greg" or "Greg, will you go out with me?" then I suddenly become a shrinking violet. I've had one boyfriend in my life, who I gave my virginity to, but that was it. I never learned to talk to guys I liked-my Senior-year boyfriend took all the initiative.
Like I said, my songwriting can be subtle. Too subtle. "Destiny Delayed" was about Greg, and nobody but me knew it. The lyrics I wrote talk about waiting, and trying, and the frustration you feel knowing that all the waiting and trying might not ever be enough. It's a song about delayed gratification, and wishes that never come true, and fear. Everyone who heard it thought it was a wonderful song about the trials and tribulations of playing in an up-and-coming rock and roll band. Which, I suppose, is one way you could take it--but that's not what I meant when I wrote it. It was all about Greg.
Greg never knew it. Actually, I hope he never knew it. I'd hate to think he intentionally farmed out my most personal, heartfelt song to a singer who regarded subtlety and poignancy as foreign languages.
If it was just about a rock band, who cared, right? I couldn't speak up, so I lost the argument. Donna sang the song. I just put my heart and soul into my piano part and tried to ignore what Donna was doing to my lyrics. It instantly became our most loved song. We closed every show with it. I suppose I should have felt gratified.
I don't know if my problem with Donna's singing was exacerbated by my problem with her personality. I really don't. However, as we came back from summer break and started our sophomore years in college, I realized I really had a problem with her voice.
Not all the time. If we were doing something brassy and bold, she was fine. Anything that required a lighter touch, she was brutal. And the percentage of songs she was singing got higher and higher, even at the expense of Greg. It was ridiculous. Greg was the best singer in this band. Somehow, she had convinced him that she should sing more, because that's what she did, since she didn't play an instrument. And, if the song required any kind of anything other than balls-to-the-wall, the music suffered. I really did try to be objective about it.
It's true, her repulsive personality didn't help; neither did the strain she was putting the band through. I still don't know what got into Greg. Greg was smart, sensitive, witty, sweet--this is why I had been carrying a torch for him for a year. When Donna was around, he acted like a horny 14-year-old. When we were together, writing, he was the Greg I fell for. I didn't get it. Amanda didn't get it either, because Patrick was the same way. And Patrick and Greg had gone from the best of friends to eyeing each other warily as each tried to get the attention of this overboobed little cocktease.
Oh YEAH I was jealous. My plain face, plain brown hair, average body--that couldn't compete with the Blonde Bombshell, and I knew it. What was worse, she knew it. It became increasingly grating to hear that little bitch singing my words, while making goo-goo eyes at the love of my life that she had absolutely no intention of following up on.
Anyhow, the band kept getting more and more attention. This was good, and bad. Bad, because Donna was under the impression that the reason for the increased attention was... Donna. I never thought it was. I finally got some ammunition in early November.
We had a gig at a frat house for a party. Donna was unavailable. She was incensed that we had even taken a gig when she wasn't going to be around but, for once, Greg held his ground. The guy that had hired him was a good friend. We played the gig without Donna.
And we were great, and went over really well. A couple weeks before, we had kind of stumbled upon Shawn Colvin's "Get Out Of This House" at a rehearsal, and Amanda and I sang it because Donna didn't know the words. When Donna insisted on singing it if we ever did it--which would have ruined the song--we shelved it. At this gig, without Donna, we opened with it. It was great.
Greg sang more than he had in a long while. Amanda sang. I sang "Destiny Delayed" for the first time, and loved it. The gang at the party did, too. Maybe Greg and Patrick would figure out that we didn't *need* Donna.
Of course, for that to happen, they had to stop being in lust with her--and I didn't know if that was ever going to happen.
It all came to a head, a few weeks later. We had been hired to play at the school's Christmas formal--a huge, prestigious, and well-paying gig. About a week and a half before it, Greg and I were having a writing session.
We had polished up a couple of half-finished pieces, and he had brought the music for one of my lyrics, and we finished that. Then, he said, "I've got another one. You have to move over, though, because I wrote it on piano."
He sat down at my piano and started playing a riff. It was soft, and gentle, and quite beautiful. We ran through it a couple of times. On about the fourth run-through, the words poured out of me, all at once. Not my usual style of writing. We were very glad we had a tape recorder running.
Catch my fall, if I should trip
Mend my heart, if it should rip
.... There is more of this story ...