This week Jim Adams has prompted us with Touch/Feel for this weeks Song Lyric Sunday. I chose to share a song that reminds me of my mom. When I found the video of “Borrowed Angel”, it only took the first 3 notes for tears to well up in my eyes because my mom passed away 5 1/5 years ago and she loved this song.
It was the 1970’s and my mom’s name was Wanda. Her good friend and cohort was Wanda. They were inseparable and they both loved Mel Street. They knew him personally and every time he came into town, they got together and of course had full access at his concert and backstage. I knew him as Mel and loved his songs, but I was a kid, so what did I know about what the lyrics meant. If I liked the melody, I’d sing along not knowing anything about what I was singing. This was true with “Borrowed Angel”. I also never realized how her knowing Mel Street may or may not have affected my mom and dad’s marriage. My parents fought and nothing, I mean nothing was ever mentioned about infidelity, even as an adult years later, so I will believe that my mom loved Mel from a distance or she took that information to her grave.
On the day that my mom turned 30, she was divorced and dating a truck driver who was rarely home. He would eventually become my abusive step-dad, but that is another story for another day. My mom’s 30th was earth shattering and you would have thought the planets were misaligned and the universe would swallow her up. She closed and locked her bedroom door, remained in said bedroom all day and night. On the second day that she was 30, she rejoined life as the traumatic experience was over like nothing had ever happened. On that fateful day in August, 1976, she played her Elvis records and on many many many occasions played “Borrowed Angel” in the interim. After about the 5th time, I couldn’t turn the TV up loud enough to drown it out. By the 10th or 12th time, I couldn’t get it out of my head. We lived in a very small 2 bedroom house with thin walls. At the time, I was 10 and thought that it was just one of her favorite songs. Now, for the first time as an adult, I wonder what was really going on in her mind. Can’t be sure. What I do know is that the whole day I had to take care of myself and my little sister who was 6. Wasn’t hard because I had been doing it for a while anyway. Over the years, the 30th birthday story became a funny joking type of story like…how can a 30th birthday be that devastating? HaHaHa…
Mel Street was born King Malachi Street (yes this is for real) in Grundy, Virginia on October 21, 1935. He had 13 top-20 hits on the Billboard Country Charts. Mel began performing on radio shows in western Virginia and West Virginia when he was 16 years old. Like many others, he had multiple odd jobs like a radio tower electrician, nightclub performer and in 1963, Mel opened an auto body shop.
In 1968, he hosted a show on a Bluefield, West Virginia television program. Written and recorded by Mel, “Borrowed Angel” was recorded in 1969 for Tandem Records. Royal American Records picked it up in 1972 for his first album by the same name and it became a top-10 Billboard Hit, reaching #7 on the US Country Charts and #9 on the Canada Charts. Mel signed with Mercury Records in 1978. He suffered from clinical depression and alcoholism. On October 21, 1978, he had a record debut on the Country Charts called “Just Hangin’ On”. Ironically, he killed himself by a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the same day, his 43rd birthday. George Jones sang at his funeral. My mom was devastated and mourned for a very long time.
Pretty nice cover by Mo Pitney. I hope you will listen to his whole commentary with the audience before he begins singing the song.
Her fingers feel so gentle with her hand in mine Her hair feels like silk on my arm Her lips tell me so tenderly she's mine alone Until we park tonight and She goes home Borrowed angel belongs to someone else I love my borrowed angel I just cant help myself That ring on her finger don't belong to me But She loves me And I know she'll save some borrowed time for me I wish that I could have her more than just tonight We can't go on like this it isn't right When that lonesome feeling comes knocking on my door I'll call my borrowed angel to ease the pain once more Borrowed angel belongs to someone else I love my borrowed angel I just can't help myself That ring on her finger don't belong to me But She loves me And I know she'll save some borrowed time for me Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Mel Street Borrowed Angel lyrics © Prater Enterprises, Inc.