Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We’ve Got Tonight by Bob Seeger

“There are things in a life that matter. Things in a past that can’t be denied.”

The Wonder Years is a beautiful television show. Following the childhood of Kevin Arnold growing up in the 1960s, we see life through the eyes of a boy trying to understand the world around him. At the center of Kevin’s world was a girl, Winnie Cooper and between them is one of the memorable and endearing relationships in television.

It was clear from the pilot episode that there was something special about this show. This first episode was about the death of Winnie’s brother in the Vietnam. At the end of the episode, Kevin finds Winnie and tries to comfort her. With few words and an awkward gesture of care, we witness the magic of a first kiss.

This is not a cliché first kiss. They do not say “I love you,” right after and lovingly gaze into each other eyes. In some ways, this kiss isn’t even about romance. It’s about being there for someone and feeling close to someone in a time a need. Watching this moment, you can feel the warmth of the presence that Kevin provides for Winnie and in their eyes we reflect on these moments of wonder in our own lives.

True to life, Kevin and Winnie’s relationships developed slowly on the show. There were difficulties, awkward situations and small victories. There’s a level of levity and humor in most of these situations and which is why “The Accident” is such a jarring episode.

In “The Accident,” Winnie starts hanging out with a new group of friends and Kevin feels left out.Kevin doesn’t approve of these older people, and he tries to let her know to no avail. The episode itself has a different rhythm than previous ones and because of this it’s unclear where this episode is going.

Then Winnie gets in a car accident. Kevin finds out and rides his bike over to her house and waits for her to come home.

Why doesn't Winnie want to see Kevin? Maybe Winnie is ashamed of how she put Kevin aside, or maybe she wants to keep Kevin as part of her past as she did throughout the episode. In the darkness of the car, all Kevin can see is a shadow of the girl that he first kissed.

As Kevin bikes away, the piano introduction of “We’ve Got Tonight” by Bob Seeger begins. There’s a moment when we think that Kevin is just going to let go but he doesn’t, he refuses too. Only when he looks through the window into Winnie’s apprehensive eyes does Kevin realize why. In three small words, “I Love you,” Kevin forgives her, embraces hers and commits himself to her. Like a sigh of relief, Winnie says, “I love you” in response as a tear falls down her face.

One of the most amazing things about this moment is how two people can feel an emotional intimacy while being at a physical distance. People have said “I love you” countless times on television but framed in this way, it’s truly unforgettable.

Even though Bob Seeger recorded “We’ve Got Tonight” years after that scene takes place, it is an ingenuous use of that song. It’s one of those perfect moments when two pieces of art mean the exact same thing making the other that much more powerful. It’s about one moment meaning the world, feeling the love for another and the wonder of love.

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