Mar 11th, 1972. The New Yorker.

West Point

Author unknown

We went to a pop concert of the peace-and-love variety at West Point one recent Saturday night……..

Melanie, whose full name is Melanie Safka Schekeryk, is a young singer-composer. She is 25 years old. She grew up in Manhattan and in Bayside, Queens, and Long Branch, New Jersey.

She has made six record albums, consisting almost entirely of her own songs, which are dramatic and emotionally charged, sometimes verging on the sentimental.

From the first, she has been wildly popular among young girls, who still crowd her concerts, bringing home-made gifts with them to deposit reverently on the stage and lighting candles when she sings "Candles In The Rain", one of her most popular songs.

Her music does not fit the usual categories; it's not belligerent enough to be rock, it's too lush to be folk, and it's too straight-forward to be art song. She has never been taken very seriously by the pop critics, but the rest of the world seems to think highly of her.

Last September she sang from the rostrum of the General Assembly at the United Nations staff party, and later this year UNICEF will send her around the world.

The cadets liked her. She was wearing a long dress of many colours of velvet-mostly mustard, red and blue. She has a pretty face with broad, Slavic features, and it peaked out from under a mass of dark hair as she sang. After her first song, she said, "Would you like to clap along, in strict time, to the next song?" and the cadets laughed.

After she had sung for about an hour, she said "I think a good point was made by asking me here. Well, I got something to say to make the point a little more obvious. This is a new song. I just wrote it a few days ago. I didn't know I was going to do this, but I got a feeling I was supposed to sing it here for the first time." The new song had a sad, slow melody. We jotted down some of the words:

Hearing the news ain't like being there

Hearing the news makes it easier

Nothing seems real unless it's happening to you

And because we don't know

We try and understand

And because we don't know

We hurt our fellow man

And because we don't know

We're fitting in the plan

There are people who are living on the death in the land

The audience gave Melanie a standing ovation. Afterward, she climbed a flight of metal steps at one side of the Field House to a locker room, and members of the Dialectic Society, a cadet theatrical group, which had sponsored the concert, followed to thank her.

The cadets shyly posed for pictures with her. On a blackboard in the locker room was this note:

Dear Melanie:

May we please have your autograph?

- The Army Basketball Team.

Melanie wrote her name on the blackboard. Colonel Dionne said, "Write 'Beat Rutgers' on there, too. That's their next game." Melanie looked uncomfortable, but she wrote 'Beat Rutgers' in tiny letters at the bottom of the blackboard.

A tall, skinny cadet emerged from the crush around Melanie carrying a photograph and wearing a beautific expression. We asked if we might have a look. On the picture Melanie had written "For Ed, with love, Melanie". Under her signature she had drawn a flower.

"Nice", we said.

"Yeah". The cadet said. "Heavy".

As long as you're named Dave,

I don't mind sharing this with you!


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