Billy Vera—At This Moment

My wife, daughter and I vividly remember the Family Ties episode in September 1985 that featured the Billy Vera & The Beaters song, At This Moment. It was a poignant and powerful encounter between Michael J. Fox‘s character, Alex Keaton, and Tracy Pollan‘s character, Ellen Reed. The chemistry between the two was unmistakable, and indeed, they married in real life on July 16, 1988, and have since had four children together.

This song remains one of my favorites. Every time I hear it, I think of that scene from Family Ties. I love this story that Billy Vera told me about the song for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. Here is an excerpt from his story in my book:

I was hired to write three songs in a movie called Blind Date, which starred Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger. I was living in a garden apartment and used to see an old lady who lived in an apartment building across the courtyard from me. Behind my building was a delicatessen; I’d see the old lady there, and we had a nodding acquaintance. At the time, my mother, who was dying of cancer, decided to give me an advance on my inheritance so that I could buy a house; she wanted to see her son have a house rather than pay rent the rest of his life.

A couple days before I moved out of the apartment, I ran into the old lady in the deli. I said, “Well, we won’t be meeting any more like this, I’m moving.” She said, “Oh, yes, you’ll be very happy in your new home.” I looked at her kind of funny, because that was an odd thing to say. She said, “You don’t know me, but I’m a psychic.” I just smiled politely because I wasn’t a believer in that stuff. She said, “You’re in show business, right?” I said to myself, Yeah, well, that’s an easy guess. Everybody in Hollywood is in show business, or wants to be. And she said, “You write songs.” And then she said, “I see a song that you wrote being big beyond your wildest dreams.” I said, “Well, I have three songs coming out in a movie in the next few months.” She said, “No, I see this on television.” I just looked at her, and she said, “In fact, it’s a song that you wrote nine years ago. You didn’t finish it right away. It took you another year to finish this song.”

Well, the only song it could have possibly been was “At This Moment.” I almost always complete a song in one day, but in the case of that song, that’s exactly how it happened. I had started it nine years before but wasn’t able to finish it. A girl I had just started dating had very vividly told me how her previous boyfriend had reacted when she broke up with him. So I went home and wrote the first two-thirds of the song from what I perceived as his point of view. But I couldn’t figure out how to end it. A year later, when she dumped me, that’s when I knew how it ended.

After leaving the deli, I didn’t think any more about what the old lady had said. But to my surprise, just two weeks later, in October 1986, Family Ties used “At This Moment” again, in the second episode of the new season. And this time, the story of the song, boy loses girl, matched the story of the episode, in which the girl breaks up with Michael J. Fox’s character. This time, the audience went crazy. NBC said they got more letters and phone calls than anytime in the history of the network for a song.

Here’s an extra paragraph that was very compelling but wound up on the cutting room floor because it was a side note unrelated to the main story. But it was so cool that I’m including it here! This was Billy’s response when I asked him if he believed in psychics now:

I suppose there must be something to it. It’s funny, when I told that story to the guy who works at the deli, he said, “Oh, yeah, she does that all the time.” And he told me another story about her. He said, “One time, she was standing in line to pay for her sandwich, and the guy in front of her reached for his wallet and couldn’t find it. And she said to him, ‘Oh, you left it in a parking structure in Beverly Hills. It’s on the third floor with a parking attendant with red hair.’ Well, virtually every parking attendant in L.A. is Hispanic, so this had to be the only redheaded parking attendant in all of Los Angeles—and she was right about that. So I guess some people have a gift that the rest of us don’t have. I’m not a disbeliever anymore.


Click here to read a powerful story of forgiveness that Billy also shared with me. It is published here for the first time anywhere.



Billy Vera

Singer/songwriter Vera made his first record and wrote a chart hit for Ricky Nelson while still in his teens. In 1985, four years after his band, Billy Vera & the Beaters, had recorded At This Moment,  the song was used in the hit sitcom Family Ties, which rocketed both the song and Vera to stardom, Also an accomplished actor, Vera has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows and is a sought-after voiceover artist. Billy Vera & the Beaters has established itself as the quintessential L.A. band; Hollywood stars and other celebrities frequently attend their shows throughout the So-Cal area. For more information, visit Billy’s website and his MySpace page.

Click here for links to all the music videos on this blog.

Click here to view all my posts related to my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.


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6 Responses to “Billy Vera—At This Moment”

  1. Kim Wencl Says:

    My daughter Anna and I were in NYC last May and we were lucky enough to attend NYU’s graduation ceremonies. held in Yankee Stadium no less. We got to see Michael J. Fox receive an honorary doctorate.

    Michael’s true purpose in this life, as I see it, is not found on the TV or movie screen, but in his tireless efforts to find a cure for Parkinsons disease. He is a great example of someone who has taken something that could have been a life-stopper and turned it around to make a difference in the lives of others and in the world.

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Well said, Kim. I’m glad you and Anna could experience that.

  3. Laurie Says:

    Hi Phil,

    My friend brought up “At this Moment” – it was also on Days of our Lives, but for which characters? thanks….this is killin’ me that I don’t remember…Shane and Kim?


  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Laurie, “At This Moment” was one of the love themes for Days of Our Lives characters Kimberly Brady and Shane Donovan.

    Also, Billy’s song, “Between Like and Love,” was used on Days of Our Lives as Patch and Kayla’s song. Billy, by the way, is also an actor, and played Patch on Days!

    By the way, here is a post I wrote about my own Days of Our Lives addiction!

  5. Workinprogress Says:

    I’m a few years younger (63) than you Billy but your song “At this Moment” has gotten me through some difficult times.. Whenever I need to reflect upon my life, or conjure up some feeling or past period, I play your song and it helps me to get in touch with my inner self. There have obviously been many many songs, and many many songwriters who I have listened and enjoyed for years, but it is your song (and you obviously) that is able to consistently bring me to a place I would like to be. What a gift it would be to meet you and tell you this in person. Thank you.

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I’m glad that Billy’s song touched you so deeply, Jo. It also resonated with me the first time I heard it.

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