Friday, January 6, 2012

Music Begins To Fade...

Heart Songs
(Part Three)

I spent the next few years getting myself back in balance, gaining some wisdom—a good period actually—and if U2 touched my heart singing “With Or Without You,” or Peter made me yearn with “In Your Eyes,” then Midnight Oil brought me back to earth with “Beds Are Burning.” Sting, Phil Collins, Paul, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi—they played Scheherazade to my Schahriar, and I was content with that.

In the groove, minding my own business—and isn’t that usually when we get blindsided?--I'm coasting toward the end of my 30s, when bam, glissando into...

Act Three.

I was taking part in a four-day conference in Chicago for a Vietnam Vets group that I worked for; people from all over the country, full agenda of veterans’ issues. On the final night there’s a gathering in the hotel ballroom after dinner; a DJ is playing all the great rock and roll tunes. I’m back in a corner, sitting at a small table by myself, tucked next to enormous pots of bamboo, watching the dancing, talking to people as they drift by, thoroughly enjoying the downhill slide of a long working weekend. I’m singing away to myself, “Like a Rock, Witchy Woman, Georgia On My Mind, Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay,” not missing a line, tapping my feet, having fun.

One of my all-time favorite tunes comes up and as I’m softly murmuring the words to "Desperado," I hear a quiet, clear baritone from the other side of my bamboo grove. Some guy, with a great voice. He could carry the music, he knew scale, he could sing. Cool. I’m totally enjoying this new development, safe in my bamboo blind. Peering through the fronds, I see he has his back to me, unaware that I’m there, can hear him. As the music reverberates around the room, he doesn’t miss a beat, sings every note and lyric of “Heart Of Rock And Roll, Born To Be Wild, Light My Fire.” A music man. Oh my.

The DJ takes a break, a few folks join me for some recap-the-conference talk. When I’m alone again and look through the bamboo, he’s gone. Damn. Who was that masked man?

As I sit there, pondering missed possibilities, the DJ starts a new set with another of my favorites. A hand appears, held out for me to grasp, followed by, “Would you like to dance?” I recognize the timbre of his voice. It’s him. When I take his hand, stand and meet his eyes, he gives me this unexpected knowing kind of smile. It takes me a minute before I understand. He knew all along I was behind him, listening. He’d been singing to me.

We dance. He whisper-sings in my ear every word of “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and I’ll swear for all time that Percy was never that smooth. Honestly? It was a done deal for me before the last notes of the song had faded from my ears.

You would think a catalyst song would be inescapable here. Not so. This was background, pure and simple. It’s really about all the music—the songs, the singers, the feelings—permeating and enhancing, bringing me to that moment in time, right where I was supposed to be. The music in him sang to the music in me and that was all I needed to know.

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