I first heard this song when I was thirteen.
My family had moved away from Wilkinsburg, PA, to a housing plan in Penn Hills, a few miles away. My friends were in Wilkinsburg and I kept going back to see them. In one of those early trips, the only friend I found on my old street, McNary Boulevard, was Richard O’Leary. A bluff and big good-natured child, Richard was a few years older than me, but had failed a few grades, becoming my classmate.
Richard lived in a small, narrow house on the brick-paved Wesley Street. It was a classic, hugely steep Pittsburgh hill. Richard’s family was large, with one older sister still living at home with her own little sister. They were a poor family, too, a point that pained Richard.
Having all those older brothers and sisters kept Richard knowledgeable about pop music. That early Sunday morning, he was raving about the Fifth Dimension and a song called “The Wedding Bell Blues”. Richard kept singing the opening lines, “Bill. I love you so, I always will.” I suspect that his older sister’s boyfriend, the father of her child, was named Bill, so the song was being played often in the home.
It’s a fond memory of an early sunny, cool, Sunday morning.