Mistress of the Mix: The Goodbye Girl

Today we’re going to travel back in time to January 1981. The night before my family moved away to a new town. The night I sat in my bedroom, packing the rest of my teenage belongings into boxes for the move from Eugene to Ashland, listening to the radio on my dad’s FM tuner/cassette recorder, and that song came on.

You know, that song. The song that was singing about my life. The song that seemed to have been written just for me and my situation. The song that today, 33 years later, still sings perfectly to the path my life has taken in a way you can’t even imagine until you know the whole story. So I’ll tell it to you.

This is the story of the song that I’m going to walk down the aisle to when I marry my junior high school sweetheart.

Eddie and I started dating in November of 1980 as 9th graders at Jefferson Junior High. He flirted with me during gym class, then asked me to a school dance. After that, we were an item; we were ‘going together.’ We were inseparable. People called us the siamese twins because we were always stuck together (usually by the lips). We connected. I documented our relationship in my diary, a little yellow hardcover book with pink and white daisies and a flimsy lock. On November 25th, I wrote, “I think I love him.”

Right around Christmas time, my parents announced that we were moving. My mom had landed a new job at a public radio station 178 miles away, in Ashland (the same station I work at today, coincidentally). We would leave in the middle of January. I started to freak out. I most definitely did not want to be separated from Eddie. On December 29th, I wrote, “I wish I could pack Eddie up in a box and take him with me.”But that wasn’t how he saw it. Back then. Back when he was the pragmatic one, and I was the hopeless romantic. He knew it wasn’t realistic to believe we could live 3 hours away from each other and still maintain a relationship. And we were just teenagers, after all.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is a paragraph ripped directly from my 9th grade diary: “One day Eddie and I were walking to his house, and I asked him what was gonna happen when I moved? And he acted like – Boy are you dumb! – He said that we would break up…. what I wish would happen is that I go to Ashland and that we still see each other. I wish he understood that I don’t want to break up when I leave.” I thought maybe there was some way that we could still be together, and keep the fire burning from across the long distance.

So that night, that last night in Eugene, I was sitting there, packing my curling iron and makeup, listening to KSND Stereo 93, when that song came on the radio. It was The Goodbye Girl, by David Gates.

All your life you’ve waited for love to come and stay
And now that I have found you, you must not slip away
I know it’s hard believing the words you’ve heard before
But darling you must trust them just once more
Because Baby Goodbye doesn’t mean forever
Let me tell you goodbye doesn’t mean we’ll never be together again
If you wake up and I’m not there I won’t be long away
Cause the things you do, my Goodbye Girl, will bring me back to you.

I really felt that if I could just share this song with Eddie, he’d understand that there was still hope for us. That maybe, somehow, we could live far apart, almost never see each other, and still stay together. So I pushed the Record button on the cassette player, and taped the song. I wrote in my diary that I was planning to give the cassette tape to him as a goodbye gift.

Right now, Eddie’s feeling a little a lot like I just threw him under the bus. That’s because these days he’s the hopeless romantic, and I’m the pragmatic one. And in the end, I moved away, and moved on in pretty short order. I did try to look Eddie up once, when I visited Eugene once later that year, and found that he had moved away too. And then, within pretty short order, I had another boyfriend that was my steady throughout the rest of high school.

Somewhere down the line, Eddie became a hopeless romantic. And then 27 years later, just at the right time, he started thinking about me again. He’d kept a photo of me that he’d taken way back when we were teenagers, on the front page of a photo album that he kept with him of his most precious memories. On the front page. He started to wonder what had happened to that girl who’d said goodbye, and finally (when someone shoved an Ashland phonebook into his hand), he called the only Ing in the book. My parents.

That’s how, five years ago, exactly when I needed him, Eddie came back into my life. My parents called me and said some guy claiming to be my junior high school boyfriend wanted to get in touch with me. So I invited him down to Redding, and met him in front of the Cascade Theatre. The first thing he did was tell me to take off my sunglasses. “There’s the girl I remember,” he said.

He brought an old photo album to dinner, and when I opened it, I was shocked to see that the photo in the center of the first page was me at 15. A photo Eddie had taken of me sitting on the deck of my parent’s house. That was when I knew that he had kept me close to his heart all those years.

And then, when I pulled out my old yellow diary with the pink and white daisies, and he saw “Eddie + Valerie” written on the inside cover, he knew he had to go for broke.

So for us, goodbye didn’t mean forever. Just like the song, which I had completely forgotten about. I didn’t remember how I’d sat in my bedroom on my last night before moving away, recording that tune for him thinking that maybe there was a way for teenage love to be sustained across time and distance. Not until a few years ago, when Eddie and I were sitting in an otherwise empty dining hall at a remote lodge in Agness, Oregon on the lower Rogue River. We were eating breakfast, and the kitchen staff was listening to Oldies, which wafted out into the dining room. The Goodbye Girl came on, and within a few moments, my eyes got really big. Then the tears came, and then Eddie said, “What’s wrong, baby?” I couldn’t even speak until the song was half over. Then, with tears streaming down my face, I told him about that night, and that song, and what it meant to me, and how more than 30 years later, although we’d said goodbye, we had found each other and rekindled our relationship again. And now we were living that song, and finding a way to successfully maintain a relationship that was keeping the fire burning even though we lived 5 hours apart.

Well, that’s the story of the song I’ll be walking down the aisle to at my wedding. How could I walk to anything else? It means everything to me. To us. It truly is the story of our entire relationship, from its beginning in the fall of 1980, to present day, 33 years later. That song kicks off today’s playlist with the greatest Goodbye and Hello songs of all time.

I’d love to hear the story of the song you walked to at your wedding in the comments section below as you listen to today’s playlist.

 

  1. Goodbye Girl – Bread/David Gates
  2. Hello My Old Heart – The Oh Hello’s
  3. Goodbye Stranger – Supertramp
  4. Hello, I Love You – The DOors
  5. She Said Goodbye – Maroon 5
  6. Hello Seattle – Owl City
  7. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
  8. Hello – Lionel Ritchie
  9. Goodbye Girl – The Civil Wars
  10. Goodbye Sadness – Astrud Gilberto
  11. Hello – Oasis
  12. Never Can Say Goodbye – Jackson 5
  13. Hello Goodbye – The Beatles (but in this case, due to forces beyond my control, it’s the Jonas Bros. Don’t judge!)
  14. Hello – Martin Solveig featuring Dragonette
  15. Goodbye – Miley Cyrus
  16. Hello – Maroon 5
  17. Sweetest Goodbye – Maroon 5
  18. Hello – The Cat Empire
  19. Goodbye Babylon – The Black Keys
  20. Hello Bonjour – Michael Franti & Spearhead
  21. Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
  22. Hello Darlin’ – Conway Twitty
  23. Goodbye Little Darlin’ – Johnny Cash
  24. Hello Little Girl Goodbye – Chuck Berry
  25. Say Goodbye – Dave Matthews Band
  26. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye – David Gray
  27. So Long, Goodbye – 10 Years

Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for over a decade, and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and an adorable West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. 

She’s often spotted driving around town singing at the top of her lungs to new wave hits from the 80’s, but at work Valerie hosts the afternoon classical show Siskiyou Music Hall (at 90.9 FM in Shasta County or streaming at ijpr.org). 

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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28 Responses

  1. Avatar Donna Patterson says:

    What a great story. Nothing similar to relate, just wanted you to know that you brought a smile to my face this morning! Thanks!

  2. Ah, romance! What a wonderful story with a fairytale ending.

    We used the traditional Wedding March when we got married, but our first dance was to Annie's Song. We took dance lessons (which almost ended our relationship in its tracks) and waltzed horribly and clumsily — but with great big grins. All three of our kids TEACH ballroom dance now — and my husband and I are STILL hopeless at it.

    Congratulations to you both.

  3. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Erin, what a great story! And thank you.

  4. Avatar Susan says:

    Love this story, Val ~ and what a blast from the past to hear all this music.

  5. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Well, when I was married, I said there was NO WAY I was going to walk down the aisle to "Here comes the bride, big, fat and wide . . . " I had wanted the Grand March from Aida, but the organist didn't have that so we used that old processional used by the royalty in England, "a Trumpet Voluntary." We laughed a lot!

    I like the reason you're using your song a whole lot better.

    Along with your thoughts of teen-age loss, listen to Brighton Beach off of Rod Stewart's new album, TIME.

  6. Avatar Barbara Harrison says:

    This is a great story. True love always finds one another.

  7. Avatar Kris says:

    Dang girl!!! You just brought a tear to my old seasoned, weathered eyes! Ya, both of 'em. Aint ever heard a better love story. And it's true! We can't wait to meet you. And I can't wait to see what I know is such a true smile on my brothers face. And yours, Val. What a blessed day.

  8. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    It was supposed to be Neil Young's "The Emperor of Wyoming" (just because we really like it) but the sound was botched so we heard silence as we walked in. The recessional was supposed to be Dave Alvin's "Marie Marie" but again, no music. When the music finally came on, it was in the middle of John Prine's version of "You Never Can Tell."

  9. I love that story! Congratulations!

  10. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Madamoiselle Rice, that's hilarious and a classic wedding story for the ages! Reminds me of when my friends Rob & Mary got married in Lithia Park, and there she was, getting ready to walk up the 'aisle' when suddenly everyone realized she had no music to walk to (and most of the people in attendance were musicians)! So we hummed "Here Comes The Bride." Those two have been married now for more than 30 years.

  11. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Kris….if the story brought a tear to your eye, just wait until you experience it all in person. Eddie will be bawling, I'll be bawling, you'll be bawling….everyone's going to look awful in the photos!

  12. Avatar Jackie R. says:

    Val, my Alaskan friend! I am so glad you found your hopeless romantic again! I love hearing your stories and listening to your play lists! So happy for you! xo

  13. Avatar Amy Lang says:

    I've always loved this song and now I love it more! Congrats on getting to see it come full circle – teenage-girl fantasy style….XO

  14. Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

    whos that girl in that photo next to yours val

  15. Avatar francie says:

    An added bit of "local color". David Gates used to live in McArthur! He had a recording study there and was a generous and involved member of the community. His wife organized the queen contest for the Intermountain Fair and was just as lovely as he was. Your story is heartwarming……..and so was the artist!

    • Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

      Francie, that's so cool! I had no idea!

      • Avatar Lisa Lee says:

        Oh yes! I now remember where I heard the name David Gates before! Was he in the band Bread? I used to work at Riverview Country Club and I do believe he was a member there way back when.

  16. Avatar 2r says:

    wow..Thank You and continued congratulations and life long celebrations to you Both..Very Happy for you that it worked out..the way some of Us, wish it could..I'll say this.. (for now 🙂 I came to the northstate…From a long long way..away over 3 thousand miles in fact..Being a Ca.native I wished to get back to my Home state and possibly find my Niche,reconnection with distant relatives,and do some things I always wanted to..do. It turned out to be not so easy due to some circumsatnces and Thought process' outta my control..But tough as it was..In ALL that Mumbo Jumbo, legal and hurtful Pain and Drama…I DID find my lifelong Princess in downtown Redding..Before I was even introduced to her..I seen her float by at Marketfest..and I Just knew there was something special about her.certainly more than I even understood at the moment…but sometimes we just know…Anyway I had the pleasure of spending many many quality moments with My Princess..but things were in our way to move fwd..which from the day I met her was all I wanted..To leave the Pain,drama,and sucked into unfortunate unfair legalities BEHIND. It was heavy and horrible with moments though of her and I.. IN, Our true Bliss and True essence's.. wow..I just Love that woman like no other…Ive been shut out shut down and moved away due to some of that pain and our Up and down back and forth relationship..which has been at times Clogged with poo..like a shingletown toilet..But I say..I too am a Hope~Full romantic and Believe that sometimes there Is just that one Besutiful person we are always meant to be with,have in our lives,Or live happyily ever after with.. With my Princess.It Could,BE..any of those things..Like you two..I wish it were Us.."forevie" ,always…which with her felt like lifetimes..I love you Princess Wildflower.. Thank you again Valerie,for sharing Your story…~Ron

  17. Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, Ron!

  18. Avatar Lisa Lee says:

    What an incredible story!! So happy for you!

  19. Avatar Hollis Pickett says:

    You haven't lived until you go to You Tube and see Committed do "She Said Goodbye" on The Sing Off…….so much better!

    • Avatar `AJacoby says:

      THE SING OFF!!! Absolutely the best of the reality/artistic competition/adjudicated shows EVER!!! Everything a cappella. Nothing between the singer and the audience. Truly a case of the rubber meeting the road. Not only were the singers top of the line . . . so were the judges. Articulate, insightful, well thought out comments.

      thnks for sharing this link.

  20. Avatar Derral Campbell says:

    There was a vaudeville-hippie band called the Sopwith Camel. They did a song called Hello Hello. It was catchy and fun. I went to see them at the Fillmore. They were on the same bill as the Young Rascals. I was pretty excited and quite willing to put up with whomever the Doors might be in order to hear the Sopwith Camel. And I had a big surprise – HELLO!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjYsl__loTw

  21. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    Both of these songs were great! (the acapella Maroon 5 cover and Sopwith Camel)! Sopwith Camel reminded me of Donovan and Nilssen.

  22. Avatar Alan Ernesto Phillip says:

    Way COOL story, Val – Mazel Tov!

  23. Avatar Rob Howard says:

    hey Valerie,

    a lovely essay about how memory, music and love's mysterious meddlings can give deep meaning to our lives. You show how music is a perfect segue from one part of our lives to another. A blessing on you and Eddie, and all the other music makers.

    Rob (from Tim and Monica's party)