I’m the Luckiest

the luckiest ben foldsWhen 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.

The Kenyon College Kokosingers – The Luckiest

Washington University Amateurs – The Luckiest

USC Reverse Osmosis – The Luckiest

Mixed Company of Yale – The Luckiest

Brown University’s Harmonic Motion – The Luckiest

NYU Mass Transit – The Luckiest

The Tufts Amalgamates A Capella – The Luckiest

23 comments
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Lesley
Lesley

Hey... thanks for sharing this. I'm totally late to the party on Ben Folds, but loving every minute of it. I had a similar experience about 10 years ago at the Opera Bastille in Paris - the world-famous principal singer got sick and they sent on her understudy, who would be making, not only her Opera Bastille debut that night, but also, her first performance of that role. She was mesmerizing - her intensity - everything was riveting. But her curtain call was what really brought me to tears. Last one to bow, she came tearing out of the wings, bowed to the floorboards and then did a total end zone dance, complete with jumping up and down. And the crowd went ape.shit. What a glorious pleasure it was to be witness to that. Indeed, lucky.

The Redhead
The Redhead

In one single comment, you've made me wish I had been there, Lesley. I'd have paid any admission price to leave that evening with an end zone dance! I'm glad you got to see it :)

PJ Mullen
PJ Mullen

"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." Best line, ever. That will be all.

The Redhead
The Redhead

PJ, I do so very much enjoy having you around these parts. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for being my hawt date, lady :)

Merredith
Merredith

So you haven't heard from me because I have been buried, buried, toting a barge of work all backed up into the first three days of the week. I told you I would be, but I'm stopping by to comment because it was so beautiful. Being clever, being snarky or whatever... gets tiring actually. Beauty is a place you can rest, sometimes. That's how I felt at the concert. And funny, though I have been all but glued to my computer for two days, I have been playing "Landed," over and over, continuous loop. It has gotten me through. Thank you for a lovely evening. Hawt, indeed.

Carole
Carole

My absolute favorite classical piece is Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto. I have it on a dozen CDs featuring a whole list of wonderful pianists, including Rachmaninoff himself. Last September, I saw it performed at the Hollywood Bowl by a 23 year old named Joyce Yang. I cried from beginning to end and can still tear up just thinking about it. She not only gave the best performance I've ever heard, she was so filled with joy and enthusiasm that she electrified the place. By the time she was done, I was sobbing, tears streaming down my face, oblivious to anything and anyone around me. So I totally get every word that you wrote, and isn't it nice that we are so lucky to have lived through those moments and experienced such bliss? How many people really get to say that? And thank you for writing this post which brought it all back to me and let me relive that night. And now I gotta go find the kleenex...

Julie
Julie

I saw him years ago at the Gothic and it remains one of the best concerts I've ever seen. The Luckiest lyrics are among the best too.

Angela
Angela

I'll be damned. You just wrote an entire blog entry without using the word "fuck" once. And it is really, really beautiful. Congratulations. (I mean that sincerely.)

The Redhead
The Redhead

*resisting the urge to drop an f-bomb* ;) See? It IS possible.

Angela
Angela

You're so ...... versatile. I love that about you!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm sorry - I couldn't hear you through your useless bachelor's degree. ;-)

The Redhead
The Redhead

What is not to love about Ella? *swoon*

The Redhead
The Redhead

And to think that arts budgets are being cut from schools nationwide...

Tim Biden
Tim Biden

In life we need less attitude and more gratitude. Looks like you found that place in life. I'm glad for you. And I think we all need to go to more concerts. BTW, beautiful song. =)

The Redhead
The Redhead

It IS a kickass tune, isn't it? And yeah - I definitely need to go see more live music. I'm fixing that again this weekend with the Ryan Montbleau Band at the Walnut Room.

Cheryl Harrison
Cheryl Harrison

The Luckiest is going to be my first dance at my wedding. It's an amazing song. I'm jealous I didn't go to this concert.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I knew you had good taste :) Follow it up with Martin Sexton's "Happy."

Sjgriesemer
Sjgriesemer

I love Happy too! I think you have great taste.

The Redhead
The Redhead

One of my all-time favorite tunes :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grant Griffiths, RedheadWriting. RedheadWriting said: @benfolds, his diamond-studded titanium balls, and on feeling I'm "the luckiest." http://ow.ly/2OJe2 […]