I heard Pat Benatar’s version of “We Belong” coming from a car in the parking lot at the grocery store yesterday. I was surprised at how young the driver was. “We Belong” was a big hit for Benatar in 1984 and this young man couldn’t have been born yet when the song rode the International Top 5 list for so many weeks so many years ago. The song was written by Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro of Lowen & Navarro and is probably their most well-known song. Hearing it yesterday reminded me of a favorite moment at a show a few years back.
I’d gone to hear Lowen & Navarro at Bamboo Yoga Studio on Coronado Island, California in February 2004. Bamboo is a lovely, warm and very small venue ~ it maybe seats 40 ~ and the duo was performing unplugged in the beautiful wood and glass-walled room. Dan Navarro announced early on that a big contingent of his family had driven down to Coronado from Los Angeles and were in the audience that night filling the left-wing seats. As the evening went on, I couldn’t help but notice the three older women in the front row. They were better-dressed than the rest of us and better-behaved, too, sitting very upright, hands in their laps along with their purses and very attentive.
As the second set of what had been a wonderful show was coming to its close, the duo announced they would do two more songs and asked if there were any requests. Almost immediately, a high anxious voice from one of the trio of ladies in the front row called out, “Danny! Play ‘We Belong’!” Dan Navarro actually seemed not to have heard her (impossible as that seemed in such a small venue) but I could tell Eric Lowen had heard her as he ducked his head slightly and was trying not to grin. They played a request from another audience member and announced they would now play their last song of the evening. This time, there was a controlled frenzy and murmuring in the front row of the family wing and then the same, now even higher-pitched, voice called out almost frantically, “Danny! Play ‘We Belong’!” Dan still seemed not to have heard her and he continued to tune his guitar for the next song which he announced as a request from yet another member of the audience. Almost immediately, a man’s voice, the voice of a patriarch ~ deep, grave, and with authority ~ cut across the room, “Daniel! Your Aunties want to hear ‘We Belong’”.
Finally, Dan abandoned his attempts to feign deafness and raised his head, laughing, “Yes, Papa, I heard Auntie’s request.” Turning then to the rest of us, he explained that these three ladies in the front row were his aunts and that they had raised him. He talked of the love and respect he had for these small, strong and stately women. Then he turned to address his aunts, “Aunties, ‘We Belong’ is our most famous song and we always play ‘We Belong’. At every show. And even when we announce that we’re playing our last song, we’re not really playing our last song. We will still play ‘We Belong’. And even if we announce the show is over and leave the stage, we will still come back and play ‘We Belong’. Ladies and gentlemen,” he continued as he faced the audience again, “I would like to dedicate this next song to three of the most important people in my life, my Aunts Gracie, Hilda and Marcie.”
It is always a powerful and bittersweet event to hear a mega-hit performed by the original songwriters in an intimate setting. But this performance was particularly moving as I watched the proud aunties smiling, swaying, and singing along in the front row. When the crowd rose for an ovation at the finish, I think we were applauding the aunties almost as much as the beautiful performance.
Disclaimer: It’s been over two years and I’m quite sure that I haven’t gotten the aunties’ names right. And I have a feeling they’d prefer it this way! ~KyM