When it comes to enjoying music, there’s nothing like being in the audience watching one of your favourite artists perform live. Some of the most viscerally and physiologically pleasurable moments of my life have been in the company of sound, emotion and atmosphere circulating about my body via the acoustics, sublime or otherwise, of live venues.
There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to do something to break through that invisible barrier of the performer and the audience, but for a variety of reasons never felt compelled enough. But there are those fans – those huge fans – who have an extra dose of chutzpah, talent and perhaps a fantasy. And sometimes, when luck is on their side, that fantasy becomes a reality.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen some wonderful clips where this has been captured; an audience member has broken through that barrier, and, as a result, something special happens. At that moment, not only does the audience member step into the world of his or her idol for the experience of a lifetime, but the performer takes a leap of faith too – a huge gamble on the outcome.
After all, what happens if the fan is – well, a dud? And it all goes pear-shaped. And awkward? I haven’t seen those videos. But boy, have I seen the opposite.
I’ve been storing up a few of these to share as a series on HH, because they make me feel so good. I call them magnanimous musical moments, because as a result of the performer’s magnanimity, three groups are changed:
- the fan, who couldn’t be happier – either that night, for a week, a month or maybe the rest of his or her life;
- the audience, who, through the fan, enjoy the experience vicariously while still enjoying the performer, and so take an extra-special memory home with them;
- the performer, who, through his or her action, has consciously or subconsciously given the most wonderful gift, the willing ‘transfer of the baton’ not just of their own music – the highest honour – but acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes you’ve just gotta give someone a chance.
So where to start? I’m going to start with my most recent discovery, because it’s perfect. Watch Billy Joel a) make the split-second decision b) realise he’s made a good decision and c) enjoy it. Enjoy!
ps – if you have any doubts about points 1. and 2. above, check out this ‘accompanying’ video which is the perspective of Michael’s friends in the audience.
I rest my case. And if you haven’t smiled at least once in the last 10 minutes, you’re a hard person, my friend.
[Pic courtesy The Tenneseean]
I’ve just seen Tina Fey’s ‘Mother’s Prayer for her Daughter’ again, which I first read in her hugely enjoyable Bossypants memoir, but it’s also done the rounds as a separate item in the media in recent months – including today via a tweet from the ever-lovely Letters of Note.
It got me thinking there needs to be a boy version, as that’s what occupies my mind. This is my first draft, copying shamelessly from Ms Fey’s style and content, with some original bits left in alongside some subtle (and not so subtle) changes. It may just have to do:
The Mother’s Prayer for Her Son
[With apologies (and grovelling adulation) to Tina Fey]
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Celtic symbols for who-knows-what or the Southern Cross constellation stain his tender biceps.
May he be Handsome but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the needy bimbo’s eye, not the Fine Features of his Father.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, may he remember the parents who picked peas out of dinners. And stick with whatever is Legal, in Moderate Amounts.
Guide him, protect him
When he gets behind the wheel, is a passenger in a car, jumps off things into water, swims with sharks knowingly or otherwise, handles power tools, cycles for fun and recreation, curses under his breath at the big idiot who hears him, downloads one more bloody dub step mp3, sees the woman of his dreams, sees the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and spends more than two hours in any bar ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead him away from Writing but not all the way to Finance.
Something where he can make his own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes. And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Life coaching? Dentist? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May he play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of his Own Heart with the sinewy strength of his Own Arms, so he need not be teased by other Wannabe Drummers who don’t get to lie with Whoever They Damn Well Please cos they’re Hot.
Grant him a rough patch from 11 to 19, or thereabouts. Let him see dogs in clouds and be interested in learning magic for much too long,
For Childhood is short – a Lion Flower blooming burnt orange for one day –
And Adulthood is long and “I’m in my room, leave me alone” will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever,
That he may be spared the misspelled invective of his peers
And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when he one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of someone who matters,
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank him directly into a car in front of his friends,
For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should he choose to be a Father one day, be my eyes, Lord, That I may see him, putting the kettle on at 4.50am, all-at-once exhausted and in love with the woman collapsed in bed next to his now-sleeping baby, who he has watched helplessly in awe for three hours trying to settle this new little life, knowing all he can do is … not much but be there. Being there matters a Lot, Lord, and let him Know It.
“My mother did this for me once,” he will realise as he gently moves the tiny sleeping form from the bed to the bassinet, and pulls the covers up over his beautiful, snoring wife. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over him as it does each generation and he will make a Mental Note to call me. And he will forget.
But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
(And if you have daughters, or just want to see how unoriginal I’ve been, why don’t you read Tina Fey’s original and you’ll see why I was inspired 🙂 )