The spotlights died and the dim illumination that replaced them signalled that a softer song was coming. It was one she’d been practicing for weeks, there in the studio after all her other songs in the set had been fine tuned.
“This song comes from a beautiful little movie called ‘Once’, Ingrid said to her audience. “It’s bittersweet and haunting, and I hope you enjoy it.” She knew her audience and she knew they’d love it. This kind of song had given her career its lift, back when getting a gig and singing to three disinterested people was obviously not getting her anywhere.
Tonight was a special night for her. Alan, who had always been a huge supporter and never scared to tell her when a song was wrong for her, would be here. In fact, she was surprised he wasn’t here yet, and she felt a little anxious. She loved him but she’d never told him. “He brings out the best in me,” she’d said more than once, laughing to cover her shyness.
The guitar gently began, and the piano came quietly to life.
“I don’t know you,
but I want you,
all the more for that.
Words fall through me
and always fool me
and I can’t react.”
A slight movement at the side of the stage caught her attention and she glanced that way. From out of the dark recesses a voice floated, sounding so reminiscent of Andrea Bocelli’s magnificent tenor that she was stunned. That beautiful voice took up the song’s next lines, floating out into the ether and into the hearts of the audience.
“And games that never amount
to more than they’re meant
will play themselves out.”
It was Alan, and it was a version of him she’d never seen or imagined. His voice was incredible, and it felt as if he was singing just for her. She recovered as he walked onto the stage and stood next to her. Together, they sang:
“Take this sinking boat
and point it home
we’ve still got time.
Raise your hopeful voice
you have the choice
you’ve made it now.”
Even before they finished the song the applause of the audience thundered and people were on their feet, clapping and cheering wildly. It was a beautiful rendition of the original and it touched the hearts of hundreds.
“Ummm … this is a friend of mine, Alan, and until we heard him I had no idea he could sing,” Ingrid said, looking at him as if for the first time.
“I’ve always been too tongue-tied around you to mention it,” he said quietly.
“Too tongue-tied?” she said with a hint of laughter in her voice, as if she couldn’t believe this guy with the amazing voice would have a confidence problem.
“Yes, it happens when you love someone but you’re too scared to breathe because they might not love you back,” he said, looking into her eyes.
Ingrid’s first album was born that night and went double platinum soon after its release. First Kiss was a phenomenon, a love story, that began when lips touched there on a stage after a heartwarming, spontaneous duet the audience would fondly remember for years.
Perhaps this is what Hansard and Irglova hoped for when they wrote Falling Slowly.