She’s the Kind of Girl

Caroline Margaret Gower (Scarfe)

July 8, 1966—March 11, 2009

From the get-go, I wanted this blog to be focused on Gene's words and music, not me. Today, however, I am suspending that rule to pause in observance of the 10th anniversary of the passing of someone very dear to me. Her name was Caroline. 

Music was an integral part of my friendship and eventual relationship with her. From Marvin Gaye to the Beach Boys, Van Morrison and Cat Stevens, music was tied to the inner workings of our story. It formed the soundtrack to our private mythology. 

And a significant part of that mythology involved Gene Clark; in particular the song 'She's the Kind of Girl,' written in 1970. Of all the songs Gene wrote, this one came closest to capturing not only her essence, but also the story of our time together. In fact, the song so closely mirrored my personal experience of love and loss—line by line, note for note, emotion for emotion—that I've occasionally comforted myself with the admittedly silly (and self-piteously narcissistic) notion that Gene's precognitive songwriting ability was part of my personal metaphysical rom-com (if Gene could ennoble love and loss through his music, surely I could do the same?).

My copy of Roadmaster.
I met Caroline in 1987, the same year that I stumbled across a copy of Edsel's reissue of Roadmaster (pictured at left)and began my first trips into Gene's post-Byrds oeuvre. It seems fitting that the song that conjures images of her in my mind—the long, flowing hair, impossibly luminous blue eyes, soft voice, and comforting presence—is the album’s opening track.

Our time together would bring the greatest sustained period of happiness in my life.  She was the first person outside of my family who believed I could become a writer. More than that, she knew it, even as I sputtered in endless self-doubt. And I, in turn, loved her deeply, hopelessly, unwaveringly, sometimes even foolishly, in the way that naive, idealistic young men sometimes do.

In one of those strange ironies that occurs when two people meet, I felt the greatest peace when in her presence, and yet Caroline herself always seemed preoccupied, beset by some dark worry that existed somewhere just beyond her grasp or immediate understanding.  She would twitch and blush with rabbity self-consciousness in a manner that was as concerning as it was endearing and comical—and it was this complex restlessness that fired my desire to introduce to her life, if I could, the tranquillity she brought to mine.

As unlikely as it seems in these days of desperate self-promotion and unchecked sociopathy, scarcely a trace of her exists online, apart from her obituary, and a couple of references I've made to her on this blog. You will not find a picture of her, nor any faint traces of a presence on social media. From what I'm given to understand from her sister (someone I consider a dear friend, in spite of time and distance) this was by design.

But Caroline existed. She mattered.

Even if I amounted to nothing more than a mere blip in her life, she remains a towering epoch in mine.

Although I had no contact with her in the last 14 years of her life, I would often think of her, and would comfort myself with the thought that she was happy, and had found peace. 

One day in June of 2009, while bored at work, I googled her name. Almost instantly I found her obituary. She had passed away suddenly at the age of 42, only three months before, leaving a loving husband and a daughter.

Later that evening after I got home from work, alone in my basement office, overcome with shock and sorrow, I wept uncontrollably, just as I’d done when she first “slipped through (my) hands.” 

To this day, I cannot hear the opening lines of 'She's the Kind of Girl' without getting misty-eyed, thinking of her gentle manner and ineffable grace. I offer it today in her memory.

She's the Kind of Girl  (Gene Clark)

She's the kind of girl
Together like a rhyme
The kind everybody wants to know
She can fool you with her way
Leave you with nothing much to say
And you try not to hang around
But you really don't want to see her go away.
She's the kind of girl
Marigold and thyme
Sunshine and flowers in her hair
Simple ways she don't complain
She likes to move
She won't explain
And you wonder in the night
If everything was right with you
She might remain.
Doesn't everybody want to hear
Doesn't everybody want to know
What it is to be so near
Then watch it go.

She's the kind of girl
Really has to see
What it is that's on your mind
She takes the time and understands
She makes no judgments, no demands
But she makes you feel a fool
When you wonder how 
She slipped right through your hands.


Kate said…
Thank you for such a beautiful tribute Tom. We can all only hope we have someone like you to carry the torch after we pass. Being the younger sister I was the indirect recipient of your musical history together, borrowing the infamous mixed tapes - so thanks for the Van, the Besch Boys and the Cat Stevens - they are my link to her too.
skipway said…
A lovely song and a sweet remembrance, Tom. As a life-long bachelor, the lines "Doesn't everybody want to hear
Doesn't everybody want to know
What it is to be so near
Then watch it go."
really resonate with me.
It makes me think of all the ladies I let slip thru my fingers. You don't miss your water until your well runs dry!
Indigo Mariana said…
Lovely tribute 💕
Unknown said…
Beautiful tribute, Tom
Unknown said…
A perfect song for the dear loves, lost. And the writer writes: “ and you wonder in the night, if everything was right with you, she might remain”. IF this song were autobiographical ( and mist songwriters will say.... not necessarily so), one could think Gene put the blame on himself for the loss of ones he fell in love with. I love this song; one if my Top 20 GC songs. Poignant and sweet. I so sorry for you Tom this wonderful beloved friend slipped through your hands. 😔