RAY’S COPY SHOP

from On My Way To Hooterville


When I go to Ray’s Copy Shop

if I have to wait in line

it never really bothers me

it’s not a copy shop

it’s a shrine

Ray loves the theater

one night a new voice took his breath away

he found her name in the program -- Linda --

his life changed forever that day

Next morning Ray looked at his shop front window

an idea popped in his head

he pulled down all the business stuff

put Linda’s pictures up instead

soon the whole shop was dedicated

every square inch of space

that wasn’t filled with copy supplies

beheld Linda’s face

Oh her face

he’d buy a ticket ‘most every night

to see her face

glowing in the spotlight

From that day on

he only played her music

through the speakers on the copy shop’s wall

his customers thought it odd, but smiled

(she’s a great singer, after all)

I foolishly gave him some of my CDs

but he never played a one

it was Linda, Linda, Linda, Linda

as the copy machines all hummed

By now you could say

Ray was addicted to Linda’s Broadway show

one night at the stage door he waited with flowers

she came out to say hello

Ray completely charmed her

as he babbled on and gushed

she autographed his program

she hugged him and he blushed

Oh he blushed

she autographed his program

he blushed

she thought, hmmm, what a sweet man

By now you may be wondering

what became of Linda and Ray

did they fall in love and marry? . . .

no, Ray is gay

He shares his life with Warren

who only rolls his eyes

when Ray goes on and on about Linda

(which is all the time, no surprise)

When Linda married a songwriter named Frank

got pregnant, left the show

Ray’s friends worried about him

at night where would he go?

The day Linda and Frank had their baby

they sent Uncle Ray and Uncle Warren a fax

to share their joy -- a baby boy

“Congratulations!” they faxed back

For Ray

his nights became so blue

poor Ray

we all worried, what should we do?

Days turned into weeks and months

fluttered by and stacked up neatly like pages of a manuscript through a collating copy machine

Ray copied it all --

novels, screenplays, love letters, resumes,

bills, recipes, memoirs, refrigerator art

but his heartbeat became as dull and mechanical

as the machines he spent his days with

he became a copy of a copy of a copy

of the man he used to be

And as much as Ray’s Linda obsession

drove Warren nuts,

he saw how depressed his friend was

without having Linda’s music in his life every night

So Warren took Ray to the opening

of every Broadway and Off off off off off Broadway musical in the hopes that someone onstage would rekindle the flame that

burned so brightly inside him

they saw some terrible shows

they saw some wonderful shows

but nothing happened

until one night

the first act, hmmm,

the second act, wha?

the third act . . . out of this world and into the next

She burst upon the stage

in a slinky yellow dress

was it Ray’s beloved Linda? No

but was she simply irresistible? Yes

Now there’s a beautiful new display

in the window of Ray’s Copy Shop

on West 72nd Street, just off Columbus

if you’re ever in New York,

you just have to stop

At least once a week

Ray dons his yellow jacket, pants, hat, and vest

buys a single ticket to sit close

to the girl in the yellow dress

When she bows she looks for him

flashes him a shy smile

all his friends pray for Ray that this show

runs for a long, long while

And when Broadway divas gather

talk awards and accolades

there’s Obies, Drama Desks, Tony’s

and now the Window At Ray’s

On paper Ray is a working man

who makes his living copying things

but he is an original

with a great big heart that sings

Take a look in any other shop window

tell me, what do you see?

piles of stuff they want to sell

to you and you and me

But Ray defies the business rules

of every seller, every buyer

in his window he displays

what sets his soul on fire

It’s the girl in the yellow dress

who now reigns supreme

every day people stroll by his shop

look inside, smile, and they dream . . .

they dream

they dream

good night, Ray

sweet dreams

sweet dreams

see you at the matinee

I thought that should be how the song ends, and I always want my songs to be true, especially when they are about real people. I faxed these new lyrics to Ray just like I did the five earlier drafts, before I left town to do some concerts, and about a week later I found myself stuck at the airport in Missoula, Montana. My flight canceled. A long wait.

I ran out of things to do, so I checked my answering machine and whaddya know, there was a long rambling message from Ray, saying ‘oh Miss Lavin, I’m so thrilled that you have written a song about me and my little copy shop window and yes, you got all the details right this time, but something about the song is starting to worry me. If you sing it for people they’ll know that, yes, I am now fascinated with the girl in the yellow dress in “Contact” but I’m afraid that they’ll think that I have forgotten all about Linda. And of course I haven’t and I’d hate for that rumor to get back to her.

“I don’t want to crowd you as a songwriter,” he said,

“but at the end of the song could you have me

dreaming about Linda . . . in the yellow dress?

Would that be OK?”

Hmmm . . .

Linda in the yellow dress

Hmmmmm . . .

Yes, Ray, yes

So you can see why . . .

when I go to Ray’s Copy Shop

if I have to wait in line

it never really bothers me

it’s not a copy shop

it’s a shrine

Credits:

lyrics by Christine Lavin

music by Steve Doyle and Daniel Glass

Christine Lavin: voice

Daniel Glass: percussion Video:

Steve Doyle: bass

updated: 1 week ago