It was an historical event, of sorts: the United Nations was going to host a pop star for its annual Staff Day. U Thant was there to give his blessing to the proceedings and the General Assembly was packed with staffers from around the world. It was a final fling for all the loyal workers before the General Assembly went into session that Monday, and they were an audience that would have sent Bill Graham into raptures of delight.
I found them hard to believe myself, by God such quiet during the performances, such applause for the performers.
The mikes in the General Assembly are obviously more suitable for picking up ringing declamatory speeches than they are for picking up the subtleties of Melanie's brand of singing, but what was clearly evident, despite the fact that grace notes and octave slides disappeared as if erased in mid-air, was that for the sheer lyric content of her songs and her easy, open good nature.
Melanie was the best choice anyone could have made for the event. The UN staff day is embroiled in a dispute with its administrators about working conditions, which, however justified, does tend to tarnish their halos a little bit, and Melanie, performing her songs of love and peace (gratis, at that) seemed at least an embodiment of the spirit of the UN as any staffers who were present for her concert.
"There's a chance peace will come in your life please buy one ."
She sang, with so much appeal in her voice there seemed no doubt she should be the ultimate secret weapon in the cause of world peace.
After the concert, at a reception for the staff and performers, Melanie got a taste of what passes for a fan-crush at the UN: diplomats to the core, the hundred or so people who approached her each circled until she was free for a moment, introduced themselves courteously and thanked her for her performance. Not your garden variety autograph hound, that's for sure, but then, she's not your garden variety pop star.