The Tragic Ramifications of “You Are So Beautiful (To Me)”

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Let Joe Cocker serenade you, lady.

Outside of Memphis Café in Costa Mesa, a group of us are chatting while inside Ubiquity hip-hop artist Ohmega Watts is DJing a set of strong if overly familiar cuts for Abstract Workshop’s Versatile night. We can see in the distance a figure walking toward us. To me, it looks like a man in drag. This person is wearing a tiara and a gaudily “classy” prom dress with a sash bearing some scrawl I can’t read. When the queen reaches us, it’s clear that this is a woman, perhaps in her late 40s. She holds a piece of paper with lyrics to “You Are So Beautiful (To Me),” the schmaltzy, oft-covered ballad with which Joe Cocker, Kenny Rogers and others have had hits. Tiara or no, this woman is not beautiful, not (to me), anyway.

With a tragic desperation, she asks each of us to sing this song to her. We all kindly reject her offer. A Ubiquity employee nicely advises her to contact his agent, adding that his performance price is exorbitant. I explain to her that if I sang this song, she’d regret ever being born. She takes my word for it. A local DJ asks her if he can take her photo with him in it. She agrees. Other folks are shooting photos and/or video of this pathetic scene, too. When the pathos becomes unbearable, I exit, with the song still unsung.

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