When I was a little girl, I would lock the door of my room, turn on the radio and set up my tape recorder. As soon as a song came on the radio that I knew, I’d flip the tape recorder to “on” and siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing with that deck-mounted microphone right up next to my mouth.
There were a few things that happened every time:
- You could rarely hear the music
- I would fade in and out as my excitement drew the microphone closer and further away from my face
- If my brother was home, he’d tell me to shut up
- When I played it back, there was the obligatory absence of the first few bars of the song due to the OMG/hit record!/recording/DEEP BREATH/belt it out delay.
And something else also happened.
Over enough time and cassette tape spent, I realized I couldn’t sing.
Minor setback, in the world of Britney Spears and DAT machines, but I’ve never been one to do things half-assed. While I always wanted to play Rizzo in Grease, I got cast as Principal McGee. I got a grey wig and dowdy dress instead of a push-up bra and pink jacket. And I set about to pursue other things…yet ended up an audiophile. Hours spent pouring over liner notes and standing in line for concert tickets when it was vogue (and before Ticketmaster ruined the process) defined my childhood and ever since, each outing to a live concert is nothing short of a treat. But I’ll warn you – I’m a shitty date at a live show. I don’t want to chat.
I just want to be.
This past Saturday, I got to…be.
I plopped down $180 for two tickets to Ben Folds at the Colorado Symphony a few weeks ago and had been like a kid in a candy store since. My hawt date (Merredith) and I moseyed on over to Boettcher Hall, took our seats, and for more than an hour and a half, we got to be.
I couldn’t help but think I’d gotten the most ridiculous three-for-one deal and I’d have likely peed my seat so I wouldn’t have to miss a thing.
Ben Folds…who Merredith and I dubbed the Master of the Non-Sequitor. Stool kicking, foot stomping and storytelling all in concert, none out of place.
The Symphony…which wasn’t just about instruments playing together. It was a dance. A ballet. Bows rising and falling, plucking, horns raised and lowered, singers, a surprise tenor.
Where was the third? It was the dance.
How they all danced together. A pop artist, a symphony – they all moved as one. Three-for-one. It was art in motion.
I was reminded of how fortunate I am to live my passion each and every day. How each part of my life exists in concert with the others and when something’s out of tune, you have to fix that shit and, like, pronto. It takes a lifetime of honing your ear to figure out what’s bent and straight, what needs straightening and what should just be chucked. And to know when straight doesn’t suit you in the slightest.
I could have decided to be a singer, having my own Happy Gilmore/hockey life.
Or I could be lucky. (Or as Amber Naslund pointed out last week, there is no luck when it comes to success.)
I define “being lucky” as appreciation…for every failure, success and road block in between. I sat for a moment while at the concert and wondered if Ben Folds ever thought he’d be playing concerts around the world with 70-piece orchestras backing him up. And then I smiled, hoping he did. The audacity to dream and give your passions legs so they can walk out onto the stage – wherever your stage might be. At that moment, I thought Ben Folds a man with diamond-studded titanium balls that would never lose their shine.
And then he sang a song from the one album of his I didn’t own, Rockin’ the Suburbs (shut your hole – I own it now).
Sometimes I surprise myself. I think of something random and tears well up or I’ll laugh in the middle of the salad dressing aisle at the grocery store. This was a tear-up moment from nearly the first line of his performance of “The Luckiest.”
My life’s led me on a path that’s included being a working actress (not a waitress/actress), voiceover artist, financial advisor and now Head Redhead at RedheadWriting LLC (and a metric shitload of jobs in between). There’s no place I’d rather be than in my today. Maybe I’ve got a way with these things called words and maybe that’s why I’ve always been a complete lyric whore…it’s a treat when you listen to someone else speak to you in a language you understand. Words are crystalline like a Belvedere, up, chilled. They’re murky like an olive juice-soaked dirty martini. They can be crisp and hoppy like a summer pale ale or so rich and dark like a stout that you need boots to wade through them.
They’re a drug. My drug of choice. Saturday night, I found tears welling-up as I got shitfaced on art. Sound, words, music, people, light, voices…if heaven is anything like a Ben Folds concert with the symphony, that’s where I want to go when I die. And if it’s anything like a Mylie Cyrus concert, I’ll give Baltic, Boardwalk and Park Place the middle finger, pass go and head straight to hell.
When we were leaving, Merredith said what I couldn’t. “Sometimes things are simple.” And then she smiled.
Yes, I thought. Yes. Simple. Like feeling as if I’m the luckiest person who went to that concert that night and sitting here, two days later on a Monday night with inexplicable tears of joy in my eyes because I still feel it. I still feel lucky. Goddamn – somebody bake me a pound cake because I need something to weigh me down!
Maybe you feel lucky, too. For being human. For feeling. For loving. For being. I hope so. It feels better than a never-ending massage that puts you to sleep and sets you to drool on the table. Lucky never leaves. We just forget it’s there every now and then. And more importantly, that we own lucky lock, stock and barrel.
While I don’t think this video does the version I saw on Saturday night justice, maybe you’ll see why I cried. With every bow and breath, the orchestra brought to life what I could never say but always felt. I really was the luckiest person in the audience that night. Hopefully, some other folks felt the same way, too. And when you’re done with the video, check out the links posted below. Ben Folds put out an entire album filled with A Capella performances recorded at colleges around the country. I’ve included some versions of “The Luckiest” from that tour to make you smile.