How is it that so many cool, kind people exist, live their lives, are given nine digit social security numbers just like the rest of us and yet we know nothing about them?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Until, that is, you meet them in a quiet bar in Columbus and bam! your faith in the human race is buoyed. And you start to think that even those obnoxious girls from Friendly's have a fighting chance, you are feeling that generous towards others.
And you start to wonder how some things might have gone very differently if a lot of life was spent around a piano bar; people smiling, their body language loose as they recognize the sounds of James Taylor, Carol King, or Billy Joel and raise a glass to the song. I mean, how many people could draw up plans for war when they are singing La la la, de de da La la de de da da da?
Would Goebbels really have had it in him to manipulate crowds to believe the worst and most ridiculous accusations against a whole people group if he had been singing, Sing us a song, you're the piano man, sing us a song tonight; We're all in the mood for a melody and you've got us feeling alright?
I would argue that such foul play is much harder to achieve when singing songs that fill the soul; when Joe on your right who just lost his job and Millie on your left who after thirty nights home with the kids straight finally got a babysitter is in the mood for a melody and starting to feel alright just like you, you start to realize something. You see more commonality among us than not. You feel something that is akin to patriotism in the sense that we are all rooting for a thing greater than ourselves, but it extends beyond just one country: we want life to be good.
The human existence.
And it feels good to realize that we all want life to be good.
Suffice it to say that we had a great time at this piano bar tonight. I ended up giving an impromptu concert of five songs and honestly, it was a blast.
I made a decision a long time ago that no matter where I was or how I was feeling, if someone asks me to play my music I would always say yes.
And I have never regretted that decision.
Not when I played for a Kenyan Bible School's commencement ceremony, not when I've played in multiple bars, not when I've played at different churches, and not when I played for Tyrese Gibson on the set of Annapolis at which point he said one particular riff was sweet.
The thing is, we are all together in trying to make life good and that involves sharing what we've got inside. The stories, the songs, the solved math problems, the fashion, the lessons, the organizational skills, the dances, the mothering and fathering, the wisdom, the jokes, the baking--all of it.
If it's inside and it's gonna make this life better, let it out.
James, the owner of the club, has a voice like silk and accompanies himself on the piano effortlessly. The jazz standards he sang were a welcome world in which to get lost. Wait. I also distinctly remember Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. Now I may come from a family who knows more about Crosby, Stills, and Nash than Cole Porter, but still, I am pretty certain Sitting on the Dock of the Bay is not a standard. Just wanted to clarify. We found ourselves singing along, too. Just a little, just enough. And when we forgot the words, we threw in some oohs and beefed up the harmony.
It reminded me of one of my favorite nights ever, actually.
We had basically finished our wedding rehearsal dinner at my parents' house and most of the guests had left for the evening. But Drew's good friend, Jesse, quietly walked over to the piano and just started to play. He's one of those gifted individuals who can play out any melody he's ever heard on the piano and it didn't take too long until most of my family--as well as Drew--were gathered around him.
We started calling out requests.
Oh Blah Dee!
Fire and Rain!
Bridge Over Troubled Water!
Do You Hear the People Sing!
And, jumping on differing parts depending on our mood, we sang them. All of them. More than just those, actually. And more so even than anything we had rehearsed in the chapel earlier, we consecrated the night with those songs.
Even after the last note was sung and played, respectively, an overarching sense of togetherness lingered.
Everybody was truly feeling alright, as the song says.
And nothing beats that.