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David Belanger, 71: Barbra Streisand's 'Songbird'

David Belanger, from San Diego, died at the age of 71 after 21 days in the ICU.
The Belanger family
David Belanger, from San Diego, died at the age of 71 after 21 days in the ICU.

More than 500,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19 since the pandemic hit this country and the world just over a year ago. NPR is remembering some of those who lost their lives by listening to the music they loved and hearing their stories. We're calling our tribute Songs Of Remembrance.

My dad was a huge music lover. You could usually find him tinkering in his garage singing along to his favorite tunes. If he was in his truck, the music was on loud. I'm sure the neighbors loved that, as he cruised along occasionally honking his old-timey truck horn.

Of all the music my dad adored, Barbra Streisand was one of the main pillars of his cherished musical community. When I was a young girl, we changed the lyrics to "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" to "You Don't Take Showers" — and never sang it the original way again.

And of all the Barbra songs he loved, his most favorite was "Songbird." He often complimented the artistry of the song. How flawlessly she sang it. How beautiful the melody was. But I always sensed there was more there. My heart breaks that I'll never be able to ask him.

Dad and I enjoyed our "patio party times." We would sit on the back patio with a pup in each lap literally screaming at Alexa to play various songs, or sometimes I'd DJ on Spotify. Cocktails in hands and music running the gamut from Beach Boys to Chris Stapleton to Bee Gees to Spice Girls — my dad did a mean "Wannabe" — to ... well, you get the idea.

One constant in these fabulous and sometimes very late-night father-daughter nights was the final song. He had to hear it before we wrapped it up to head on inside. "OK, OK, one more ... just one more ... and you know what it is." He would say with a gleam in his eye.

And I'd play him "Songbird" and this big 6'4" San Diego surfer electrician, with fingers the size of bratwurst, would slip into the comforting trance that only your favorite song can bring you. — Rachel Belanger, daughter

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