Song story alert…

On the making of “She’s Gone” by John Oates(Hall & Oates):

One frigid December late night morning about 3 a.m., as 1972 was drawing to an end, I was rambling around, starving in need of a bite to eat. It may seem strange today, when one thinks about the “city that never sleeps” but back then, despite the evolving art scene, there were hardly any eateries in Downtown New York that stayed open that late, much less all night. However, on Bleecker Street between Grove and Bedford there was this great little all-night soul food restaurant called the Pink Teacup; a cozy joint that had been there since the early 1950s. And at that hour of the morning, it was the only place where a light glowed on that darkened block; ham hocks, chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy with ‘60s soul on the juke box. Perfect.
No sooner had I settled into a back booth facing the street, when the door flew open and in from the cold wafted this willowy, beguiling girl incongruously wearing a pink tutu, cowboy boots and no coat. In the middle of winter! We started dating that night; hey it was the 70s and things happened fast…so with New Year’s Eve approaching we made a plan to hang out. Daryl and Sandy were out of town, so I had the apartment all to myself. She said she would come over and meet me so I settled in on the sofa and began strumming my acoustic guitar to pass the time. 9 o’clock became 10 o’clock became 11 o’clock. No girl. I had been stood up. When I finally realized that she was going to be a no show on that night of nights, I thought to myself, “If she’s not coming tonight… then she’s gone.” Simple as that I started singing this folky little refrain: “She’s Gone…Oh I better learn how to face it…She’s Gone Oh I…” The disappointment of getting stood up didn’t last long but that simple melody and chord progression was about go on forever. The very next day, Daryl came back and there I was still sitting on that sofa still plunking away at that little chorus idea and he said, “What’s that?” So I gave him the Cliff Note version of my no show date and he sat down at his black Wurlitzer electric piano and inspirationally began playing the classic alternating chord riff with the pedaled bass note that is now so well known as the intro and verse to the song. We started tossing around ideas about love and loss and how to personalize a well-worn universal subject. Propelled by an odd but provocative opening line: “Everybody’s high on consolation” we were off and running. Like manna from heaven the lyrics manifested themselves as we pooled our collective emotions focusing on relatable, everyday imagery. “I’m worn as her toothbrush hanging in the stand.” A line both evocative and so real that anyone could picture it. Building on that theme, the song almost wrote itself through our hands. In less than an hour, “She’s Gone” was born and in a way, so were we.

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