For the world… keep singing.
…muttered this dude at a Slade Hall open mic my sophomore year of college. I don’t pretend to be a phenomenal musician. I know basic chords, not including bar chords. Bar chords and I are not friends. But I make do and play the songs I can, and I love it. And I can put together some good acoustic songs when I love it. And boy do I love music. Could I say the word “love” enough?
I was singing “In the Sun” by Joseph Arthur at said open mic and when I was done I got the polite applause those who regularly attend Slade give to anyone brave enough to perform (they appreciate anyone willing to express their creativity in whatever way, shape, or form that is open and loving). I didn’t know any other song at that point so instead of playing two songs, I said I was next going to read a poem I wrote, and this dude said “No, keep singing. For the world… keep singing.”
I was really sad to disappoint yet honored that someone wanted to hear me sing again- but more importantly so thrilled that he felt it was something so important to the fate of the world to sing! It was comical, because I was 99% sure he was not sober, given how he slurred the word “singing”. But above all, he clearly believed in the power of creativity and song and music to affect the world in some way. And I totally agree. Music and musicians have an incredible power to change this whole world. Example: The Beatles. Bob Dylan. Bob Marley. U2. Okay… that was more than one example. You see what I mean.
When I played guitar and sang for my nephew, who was 6 months old at the time, he just stared at me with this ginormous, toothless, utterly intoxicated grin, and the fact that he got so much enjoyment and pleasure from hearing that for the first time was so…hopeful for me. I think it was either Emerson or Thoreau who said “If only I were as wise as the day I was born.” Babies know what’s up. Just sayin’. They do. They hear and see and taste and touch things for the first time and take complete and innocent joy in the simplest things in life and those who are truly wise remember to do so even in the most trying times of our lives. Such as college or our young twenties, when we have so much still to learn, yet so much pressure to know life already.
I told this dude that I was sorry, but that was the only song I knew so I had to read a poem instead, but that I would learn another one for the next open mic (which I did, by the way). Satisfied, he allowed me to continue on and read my poem, which also went over well. Maybe I’ll post that someday- it was one of the first and to this day by far the best I’ve ever written. But I always remembered what he said. I wrote it on a post-it note, and put it in my office at work to remind me to sing, enjoy life and its simplest pleasures, and change the world. It must have fallen, because I found it stuck behind my stapler when I was cleaning. With the tooth-filled version of my nephew’s smile, I returned it to its proper location on my computer monitor, left for the evening, went home, and sang. And kept singing.
This time it was “One Day” by Matisyahu and “All of Me” by John Legend. Dedicated to that dude from that open mic… I kept singing, dude. I hope you’re proud and that you’ve kept singing, too.