Laura Sweeney

I Listen to the Soundtrack
from A Star Is Born

Couple by Lette Valeska

Not the latest release, which I watched four times in the theatre loving Lady Gaga unplugged and barefaced on stage, piano pounding voice crooning, loving it so much I watch the original and each remake─Janet Gaynor Judy Garland Barbra Streisand─each transcendent in her own way.  I’m especially touched by Streisand’s version, when John Norman threads his fingers through hers, kisses her hand as they record Evergreen their iconic duet. But it’s the finale that arrests, as Esther takes center stage, candles lit, sings her tribute concert. At first my inner critic starts cutting and editing, annoyed the final song lasts so long, but then I watch the film again.  And when I reach the last song, I’m astonished by the seamless transition, the sustained note that moves from one signature song to the next, a ballad he wrote about her to his hard rock opener, as she wipes her brow glistened with sweat looks to the rafters and despite his reckless indiscretions and death─soaring down a desert road in a Daytona Spyder, Schlitz in one hand, listening to an eight-track of her hits─she sings for him.  And though I’m moved by the movie’s feminist message, an artifact of the 70s, a woman in a pantsuit singing about the changing rhythms of the woman on the moon, I’m riveted, juked by her devotion and transformation, despite devastation.  She carries on without her man.  I listen and soar and sing as Freya, my doxie, brown eyes staring, admires her puppy momma anew, who in nine years has rarely belted out a song so fervently in the middle of the living room.


About the writer:
Laura Sweeney facilitates Writers for Life in central Iowa. She represented the Iowa Arts Council at the First International Teaching Artist’s Conference in Oslo, Norway. Her poems and prose appear in fifty plus journals in the States, Canada, Britain, and China. Her recent awards include a residency at Sundress Publication’s Firefly Farms, a scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and participation in the Kaz Creative Nonfiction Conference. This winter she is reading for Water-Stone Review.

Image: Couple by Lette Valeska (1885-1995). No medium specified. No size specified. 1954. By free license.