Well, we chose this road. We could have stuck with our degrees and gone down a different path. We could have listened to the advice of our elders and folks who thought they were doing us a favor when they suggested that we choose a more stable career. I for one, could have listened to the Grammy President when he told me in his office during my interview to be the receptionist that, “This is a F’d up business. Why would you want to do something like music?” Yep, the president of the organization that gives awards for music accomplishments.
A lot of us were told to follow the dream, but have a backup plan. Many of us took the advice, still followed our dreams (with degrees and backup plans in our backpacks) and now are fortunate to make a little living out of singing, writing, producing & playing music. We are not heroic. Nurses, teachers, doctors, counselors, first responders, military…and uncountable others are heroic. We are just doing what we think we are here to do on this big blue marble. Like any job, when it’s great, it’s great. It’s a glorious feeling when you feel like you have connected in a way that aligns your life’s chosen profession with people that express that they love what you do…or have affected their lives in a positive way. It’s pretty heavenly, really. But, when it’s not, it’s not.
Friday night Walt was singing at an iconic Austin restaurant/bar/venue. He was the first in their newly created songwriter series in town. He has a strong following, with many beautiful souls that travel from all over the world to see him perform. His solo show is perfect for the listener who wants to be moved. He truly is a poet and storyteller of the highest caliber. On this particular night, there was a table seated right in front of the stage, with a large group of folks. We knew several of the people and knew they had come to listen. They also brought some neighbors and friends who…well…weren’t there to listen. They A: Did not know that one was supposed to keep quiet when the songwriter was singing at a singer/songwriter show. B: Were not informed that one was going to a venue, where to imbibe shots and talk super loud with your mouth full was probably not the best representation of a courteous listening audience member. C: Didn’t give a rat’s ass if it was a listening show because they were the real stars of the night. D: Could not take cues from ALL of the other people in the room that paid good money to HEAR the songwriter and not hear about your Thursday night alcohol binge while feeding your husband fried pickles. Or E: All of the above. Needless to say, it was a tiny bit of a disaster. The sweet host of the table of mystery was mortified. His brother and his wife moved to the back of the room, to distance themselves from the oblivious people. The audience who surrounded the table was giving all of the ugly stares they could, while keeping their own composure. They were trying to take in all of the goodness that was on the stage and not be distracted by the circus at the front table.
I was trying my best to not be the wifey in this situation and held my liquor.. I mean, my tongue. I knew at some point, Walt was going to ask me to sing with him. I closed my eyes and wondered how I was going to react to the couple talking loudly right in front of me, while I was trying to sing “Be Mine”. Then I thought… there is only one way to “win” this situation. I was going to out-love them. I was going to send them SO much love and SO much gushy sweetness, that they would either, A: Talk louder to assert their annoying presence or B: Leave, due to a force bigger than themselves. I was prepared to out-sing them too. I can sing pretty loud…and give them an evil, yet loving stare while doing it. One time way back when I lived in Nashville, my musical partner and I had a short gig at an All You Can Eat Crab Leg night. (we did not know it was the all you can eat night, we thought it was just a paying gig) It was the worst night ever. I didn’t eat crab legs for years. All I could hear was cracking and slurping. We worked hard to bring meaningful and touching songs to the world and did not come prepared to play the soundtrack for gluttony. Ah but after I got myself right, I out-sang them. I sang until they might have actually heard a song or two and maybe clapped a little with their buttery hands. Another time when I lived in LA, I was the opening act for a band that had an audience of strong Harley riding, leather-wearing ladies, who were not interested one bit in hearing my songs about my ex-boyfriends. I out-sang them too. I just stood there and belted what I could until one person, then two people, then 3 people paid attention. Victory. So I thought tonight, I will not only out-sing the pickle lady, I will out-love her too. She clearly needed love and attention and I was the one for the job. Plus, I was angered by the fact that someone would be so rude to my poet husband… that it was either take her down by a running tackle or stare her down with creepy, smily love. How hard could it be?
As I was preparing myself to go full-on Julie from the Love Boat, I noticed another woman close to the front of the stage dressed beautifully, and clearly there to listen. I watched as her lovely face was turning bright red from anger. It was like a slow motion movie. She got up from her table, walked on over to the woman and man who were talking, and said something like, “I would appreciate it if you would shut the hell up”. Well at least I hoped that she had said something like that. She was probably classy with her delivery, unlike my embellishment. She then slowly turned away and went back to her table, sat down and continued listening.
By the time it was my turn to sing, the oblivious people were plenty uncomfortable and took turns leaving the room. I didn’t even have to give them the creepy love stare- down that I prepared myself for. Walt too, handled the whole situation with such class. He said to the listeners, “Thank you for treating me, my wife and my songs and with such respect.”
Maybe the people never experienced a listening room situation. Maybe they were nervous and had to make some kind of noise to even the playing field in their head. Maybe they had a little too much to drink at the tailgate before the show. But because of one awesome music loving woman, and the calm composure of my songwriter husband, the room won. Love won. Maybe, just maybe, the couple learned something too. Oh to react with love all of the time. To react with love. To react with love. React with love.
Who will you out-love today?
Monday 12:19 am waiting for the rain, thinking about songs