Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Karla Bonoff"

Friday, October 9, 2015


Linda Ronstadt was America's sweetheart, the coolest rock chick who owned the airwaves, she released her third smash in a row, "Hasten Down The Wind" and the killer track, which finished the LP, was "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me." The instrumentation was perfect, haunting, the sheen shone, and then we experienced the exquisite voice we all knew and loved.

Singing a song by someone we were completely unfamiliar with, one Karla Bonoff.

"Still you know that may be what I need
Is someone to lay down beside me
And even though it's not real
Just someone to lay down beside me
You're the story of my life"

A beautiful song sung by someone who seemed to own the world, the darkness was absent.

But when Karla sang the same song with the same arrangement...WHEW!

"Well morning is breaking, the street lights are off
The sun will soon share all the cost
Of a world that can be sort of heartless
Not like love that you feel in your heart"

Sung by an unknown, someone just like us, the words seemed so much more...BELIEVABLE! This was someone who was yearning for connection in a world that so rarely provides it, back before, never mind Tinder. When loneliness killed.

You heard Karla sing and you thought about yourself. And how the world really was kind of heartless, that's the key word in the song, the one you remember.


"Oh baby, this time it's good-bye
And you can be sure that I won't cry
Our love is just a faded story
I'm walking down the road
And you've just got to let me go"

Have you read the Franzen book? There are moments in "Purity" that will make your eyes bug out, the stories of young love, when we're passionate and inexperienced and make choices we wince at years later. Back then we didn't know whether to double-down or RUN!

"I Can't Hold On" is upbeat as opposed to the dirgy "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me." It evidences the freedom of one who's thought about it a long time and has broken away and is now reveling in the power of her aloneness.

"'Cause I can't hold on
I can't hold on
I can't hold on anymore"

These are not the words of a fly-by-nighter. She tried, she's not the one who jumps from relationship to relationship, but she's finally reached her limit, she's done.

"And maybe next time you'll cry
When someone like me says good-bye
You'll wake up when she's gone and wonder
How you could let her go
But look at me, I'm going under..."

Come on, if you haven't said this to yourself, maybe even made the mistake of saying it to your ex, you're a leaver, not one of the left. You've given your all and it's still not enough. You want to scream and shout, but they're still playing games...

It's all here. This is the best post breakup song I know, I've sung it to myself many a time.


The opener on that Linda Ronstadt album. Yes, there were three Karla Bonoff songs on "Hasten Down The Wind."

"When the heart calls, the mind obeys
Oh, it knows better than me, baby"

Ain't that the truth. You know you should end it, but your heart won't let you, you go back for another go-round. I always thought this is the same person who was free in the previous song. She thought she was done and then...he pulled her back in.

"But you're keepin' me goin', I know it's insane
Because I love you and lose again"

Once again, I think you've lived this story...I certainly have.


Covered by Bonnie Raitt on her LP "Sweet Forgiveness."

"And home sings me of sweet things
My life there has its own wings"

I sing this song every time I go away, just before I come back...home.


The side-closer, written by Craig Safan, it's the mood that gets you.

The remorse...


My favorite song on the album.

"Isn't it always love that makes you hang your head
And isn't it always love that makes you cry
But isn't it always love that takes the tears away
And you wouldn't have it other way"

That's what we're living for, money and status are a sideshow. And if you have do you know your beloved is true? Life is a roller coaster, we're looking for that thrill of connection, that pitter-patter in our heart.

"When you find someone that's true to you
Some days are up and oh some days are blue
Just don't go and throw it all away
Wait a minute, you gotta hear what I say"

The rewards are in staying together, enduring the ups and downs, deepening the bond, knowing you can put the pieces back together and march on. Boomers grew up in the era of divorce, if things weren't right you were supposed to break up and find something better...but oftentimes that didn't happen.


The third and final Karla Bonoff song on "Hasten Down The Wind."

"They say just once in life
You find someone that's right
But the world looks so confused
I can't tell false from true
And love's so hard to find
In this state of mind
Oh, I hope I'll know him
I hope I'll know him
If he's ever near"

Definitive, the best words I know on this subject. In a country of 300 million, in a world of 3 billion...what does love look like, who is the right one for you?

"Well I know that in my time
I'll have it sweet and fine
But it won't add up to much
Unless I feel his touch
'Cause love's so hard to find
And I guess I'll just give up tryin'"

Don't. Those of you broke and busted on the side of the road, keep at it. Look inside yourself, work on your issues, because there's someone out there for you and you'll feel so much happier when you find them.

That's right. Those of you who just can't win at the game. That's because you don't know how to play. You can change, you can make it work, I know it.


The other song on the album not written by Karla.

"She said now you're flying high
Tomorrow you might be low
The same thing that makes your baby cry
Might make him get up and go"

Happiness is followed by despair, and it seems inexplicable. You want to avoid the turmoil, but ups and downs are the story of life. Grab hold and don't let go!

Credit Steve Ferguson for the wisdom.


Positively creepy, positively brilliant.

"Oh, my heart aches deep inside me
Oh, how I miss you
Will you come back, oh, why'd you leave me
Oh, what can I do"

Inexplicable. They rarely tell you why they're gone. Was it something you did, something you can change? And if you're everything they say they want you to be...will it make any difference?

"'Cause every night I sit here by the phone
You know it rings a lot inside my head
I daydream you're home"

Oh, the telephone. Especially before answering machines. You'd stay home and wait, believing they'd call, but they didn't. Eventually they did but to assuage their own guilt, not because they'd reconsidered and wanted to come back. It's over and you don't want to believe it.

"But now I know that love can leave a scar"

Oh, to be young and inexperienced once again, to have a do-over and try other options. It's amazing how one person can have such an impact upon your life.


And now it's over.

So different from today's music, where the singers are winners and kick their significant others to the curb. You can tell Karla Bonoff's been hurt, she's been on the losing end of love, but now she's resigned to the loss, she's gonna let him go.

"I'm not telling any lies now
I need you
You know how
I think I can see how to let you grow
I've got to let you go"

EEGADS! This is the last thing you want to do!

"Though that's my face in the mirror
It's sometimes you that I see
'Cause we've been here for so long now
I see your soul in me"

You've merged. You've even started to look alike. The person closest to you, who knows all your secrets, is no longer there, and will ultimately be with someone else. It's soul-crushing.

"Karla Bonoff" was produced by Kenny Edwards. Bonoff's significant other, once. He's now gone. Bonoff is still here. You can hear her sing these songs live, she goes on the road. You'll be sitting in the audience reflecting upon what once was, all the turmoil when most of your life was still ahead of you instead of behind.

Or maybe you're in your twenties and eating life up.

Well, Karla's got some insight for you.

Seems like a long time ago, the seventies are deep in the rearview mirror, but life hasn't really changed, if you nailed it then the lessons still apply. And if you made great music it still satiates.

I plucked Karla Bonoff's debut from the promo bin, and then went back and bought every copy they had, so I could gift it to people. They needed to hear it. Back when we got our truth from music. When we were all conflicted and concerned about love, when communicating meant more than a text, when you had to be vulnerable to connect and it hurt so much to be rejected.

Actually, that last part is still true. Hook-up culture is more of a media fiction than reality. You've got to be yourself to get ahead, open your heart for someone to reach inside, but who's gonna help you, soothe you when you lose?

Karla Bonoff.