music! music! music!

Last week I got to go to two wonderful concerts. What a treat! Being a big Beatles fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the Beatles Wanabes giving a free show in downtown Nashville. Adorned in teenage glee minus the heavy eye make-up, me and a friend went down to join the middle-aged crowd clamoring to see the Fab Four (imitators) who changed the world, but more importantly, gave us an identity as a new generation with new ideas.

Parking downtown for $5.00 within two blocks of the Omni Hotel (where the show was) was the first miracle. When we got in, we were greeted with a solemn apology and the statement, “The hall is at capacity and the line is too long. You will have to view the show from one of these other lounges as it will be telecast live.”

“Is it ok if we wait in line?” I asked, completely undaunted (I hadn’t seen the line yet).

“Of course,” came the courteous, impersonal response.

We found the line and were again advised to go to the other lounges. I smiled and said, “We understand,” without budging.

They were right. It was a long line but I knew we would get in. “Tell them you know one of the band members,” my friend elbowed me. It was true but I didn’t think the firemarshal laws would bend for a mere inside connection – especially in Nashville.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “we’ll get in.”

“Yes,” she said, “we will.”

With our minds made up and our spirits slightly giddy at the thought of seeing the “Beatles,” we passed the time quickly, and miraculously, the line moved forward . . . slowly. And guess what? We got in, only missing the first few songs.

The place was packed with smiling faces, cheers and great music! I couldn’t keep my feet still. There was a smallish dance floor in front of the band which soon ballooned with bouncing bodies, me adding to the bounce. I was doing the swim, the pony hop, the twist and just a lot of general jumping around with girlish abandon.

The band rocked it – literally!! They had the harmonies, the chords, the groove, and even that unique timbre of voice that is unmistakably John, Paul and George. I never got to see the real Beatles live. When I was a little kid in Bangalore, India, they came and did a concert there. My older brother and his friends who were about 9 or 10 years old managed to climb over some walls and sneak in to see them. I had never heard of them – I didn’t even know what a band was. But I remember how excitedly my brother talked about his escapade, and the thrill of hearing a live rock and roll band – whatever that was.

I learned something that night, listening and moving to that timeless music. I felt a freedom that was new to me. Live music and dancing have always been huge loves in my life, but I got something that night that went beyond just feeling the joyous liberty of losing oneself to rhythm and melody. There was an all-pervasive feeling of satisfaction in the moment.

It sounds simple, I know, but it was a realization beyond feeling “filled” or even “gratified.” It was a feeling of wholeness and completeness. There was no, “I hope they play this,” or “That pole is right in my sight line,” or “It’s too crowded in here,” or anything else that could have deemed imperfection on such blissful moments.

As I write, I realize I can’t capture in words the total acceptance of the goodness of life I was feeling – a surrender to the beauty of every moment as I swayed and jumped and hopped and swirled and raised my voice in teen-age screams, like the girls on the Ed Sullivan Show, back in 1964. But I felt like the luckiest person on the planet.

The stuff about the Beatles that set them apart from their contemporaries, I think, were their mesmerizing harmonies, interesting chord progressions, innovative lyrics and most of all, being real. They were just four funny, happy, intelligent, talented guys on a magic carpet ride who said what they thought. They were genuine. People went crazy over them because America was craving something authentic after the fabricated 50’s. So they came in droves to find their own freedom. Passion that had to be white-washed and watered down in a post WW II amnesia, because stability exacted that price, finally found its way to be expressed and WOW! did it explode all over the 60’s!! I think that’s why the Beatles are so legendary.

And as if a nostalgic night of great music wasn’t enough to float me right through the pink sky, I got to go to another concert later in the week. My favorite guitar player, who is his own band, was in town. There are no words to express the mysteriously magical music Tommy Emmanuel makes with six strings stretched over a gently curved wooden box.

His music leaps and soars and waltzes and electrifies and consoles and lifts and fills every corner of your heart and soul — esoteric and ecstatic, freeing and defining, it gathers all your lost hopes, all your glittering glories and all your wandering dreams and brings them back to you in sparkling, golden, rainbow baskets woven with a love and alacrity so intricate that nothing is lost, except what is ready to be transformed.

How can music do all this, you may ask. I don’t know. It somehow sieves out the worries and banalities that can seem so fiercely dominant at times, or at best can be aggressively averted, sitting in a brooding corner of your mind. The genius of this remarkable musician, ringing out with complete dedication to each note, leaves a purity of vibrating joy, harmony and laughter. It’s like feasting at a table set with your favorite foods, shared with multitudes, who love and respect you and each other. What could be more soul-feeding?

The light shines brightly from those who serve joy to a hungry world. Only gratitude resides in my heart for such profound beauty.

Thanks to the following for images:

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