Behind The Song: Betty

Written by Marsia Shuron Harris 
Performed by Aye  
Produced by David Tortolano and Aye 
Recorded by David Tortolano/Cosmo Recording

My first day in Key West (late Fall 1992) – I was walking on the beach and approaching a woman who was standing in the doorway of a telephone booth (remember those?). She suddenly began to yell at me, warning me that I could not use the phone – imagine Bill Murray in “What About Bob?” lol! I assured her that I had no need for the phone. She calmed down and explained to me that she was awaiting a VERY important phone call from a producer in Hollywood. She had landed a part in a major motion picture, or so she said. I congratulated her and went on my way noticing the bags, clothes and luggage that surrounded her. The encounter was short. 

Fast forward a couple years… 
I was writing a song on our dock off a beautiful piece of paradise that we had rented. The beauty of the bay was inspirational (MM10) and much music was played and written there. Right off the dock were schools and schools of Red Snapper (yum!) and Nurse sharks too, not so yum! The drop off the bank was deep (40ft or so) It felt incredibly dark and mysterious. The home came with a “squatter,” a cat who was maybe the nastiest one I’ve ever met. He tormented my beautiful kitty. The grounds were dry and rocky with very little shade, which supported a healthy snake population! I don’t know exactly what kind they were but I saw both red and black snakes. That’s another story, back to Betty: 

There on the dock I began writing a song about what I thought to be a fictional character named Betty. After several months, I finished the song. “Aye” debuted it at the Schooner Wharf Bar. At the end of the set, someone came up to me and said “Hey, that’s a great song about Betty.” The way he spoke suggested that he knew her. I asked, “You know Betty?” He replied, “Of course, she’s sitting right over there!” I looked up and was shocked to see, the 50 something year old woman that I had met 2 yrs earlier my first day on the beach! It turns out that her name was Betty and she was a poet and Ivy league graduate, homeless, and living out of her car on Key West. It turns out that the song was about her but not, but yes, it is her! Weird huh? 

Feeling a little confused, I walked over to the bar where she was sitting and shared with her my surprise and that I did not intend to write the song about her. I explained that “Betty” was fictitious! She smiled and gently relieved my curious, though fearful mind, by simply saying, “It’s a good song.” Phew! There was an odd humor to it all and we both knew it, but for me, something magical happened that day on the beach. A song was conceived and in a small way, Betty’s story told. I have since sang that song a million times and to my amazement, I have met more than one “Betty” in my travels! She’s someone we all know. You’ve seen her haven’t you? Her costume makes her somewhat invisible but if you look closer, you will see her, and if you look even closer, you will find brilliance there. 

Check out the song on the Music page

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