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Where Were You?
by Lionel E. Deimel


Where were you when I went to the senior prom

With the son of my mother’s best friend?

Why did you never come into my life,

Except at my life’s very end?


I strove for success,

Worked for my happiness,

But, throughout it all,

Where were you?


At college, with gusto, I studied and played;

Yet, the lack of romance left me blue.

And, in spite of the honors I earned for myself,

I now have to ask, “Where were you?”


I struggled in grad school and thought I had found

The ultimate love of my life.

My professor and I were so happy in bed

Till he introduced me to his wife.


I strove for success,

Worked for my happiness,

But, throughout it all,

Where were you?


Then I slept around in a faraway town,

And I had a baby or two.

I was married a while, never living in style,

Never knowing somewhere, there was you.


My kids are all grown, and my body is tired;

My bodily pleasures are few.

I’ll not let regret dismay me today,

For, at last, dearest love, I’ve met you.


I strove for success,

Worked for my happiness,

But, throughout it all,

Where were you?




I was feeling nostalgic and listening to a Tom Paxton album when I decided I had to write a poem. My notes for the project begin with “Nostalgia, Early PCs, Spring,” but it was “Where Were You?” that emerged. I quickly decided that I wanted to write song lyrics, but the decision to write from a woman’s point of view was made while composing the first verse because “son” has only one syllable, whereas “daughter” has two.

The poem was written 4/13/2002. I revised the text and wrote a tune 4/13/2002. Eleven years later, I was reading about writing lyrics and about the difference between poetry and lyrics. (I remain more a poet than a lyricist.) I even took an on-line songwriting course. When performing maintenance on my Web site, “Where Were You?” drew my attention, and I thought it would be worthwhile to revise my music.

When I looked closely at the text, I realized that not all verses fit the music equally well. Moreover, my tune was less imaginative than it could be. Thus began a laborious revision process.

In the revision, the text changed very little. I eliminated a comma in the penultimate verse, and I changed the final verse a good deal. Originally, it was

My kids are now grown, and my body is tired;

My pleasures in life are quite few.

My regret I’ll not let my future becloud

For, at last, my love, I’ve met you.

I hope the replacement seems conspicuously better.

I changed the rhythm of the tune and customized it to each verse. The result is, I think, acceptable. I am not much of a composer, however, and am not an arranger at all. Thus, the available music lacks an introduction and an accompaniment.

  Download Download MIDI  
  Download View Music (PDF)  

— LED, 12/1/2013

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<bgsound src="../sounds/were_were_you.mid">

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