There's a podcast I listen to called Commercial Suicide Songwriting Podcast. It's a couple of folks in Nashville that are doing interviews, spotlights, song evals, etc. Really great show, and one of the podcasts that I eagerly look forward to new episodes from.
I'm listening today while at work and I get to the segment called - LEGENDARY SONGWRITER SALUTE. Marie Perry, one of the hosts, talks about the time she saw him at an event in Nashville. It really brought back memories to me, Marie, because I was there as well! The local radio station had a giveaway of two tickets to see the Johnny Cash Memorial Tribute. You had to submit an essay about your favorite Johnny Cash memory and I wrote to the effect of there wasn't just one but many. Cash's songs were a part of my "lessons," so to speak, when I was learning to play guitar. I would sit for hours and play along with Luther Perkins learning the licks.
Then when my dad's brother started teaching me things on the guitar you couldn't find on the radio of that time, we would sit and play and pick and sing every Cash song we knew, and he made sure I learned them all. :-)
So my essay concluded with the desire to take my dad with me to the tribute show, and those chose my essay. We sat on the East side, just under the balcony. When we got there they were going through some sound checks and this tall man with a long coat came out on stage and the presence he had in the room... WOW! There was no doubt this man was a legend, and he carried himself as such. Not cocky in the least, but he was all professional and all there.
There was a point that he looked out over the audience (there were just a handful at the time) and we made eye contact. What I saw there really touched me and for that split second it was as if *I* were on stage with him. He gave off that kind of aura - that, "anyone can do this" vibe.
Now at the time I had not starting writing songs yet... I was still exploring and enjoying everyone else's music too, but I still think back to that...
Of course it was special sitting there with my dad beside me, and I wouldn't take anything for that memory and that experience. He passed away from cancer several months before I started writing, but I know he would be proud of me today.
One other thing... There were stars after stars there but they all had a reverence for the family and the memory. It was a good "show," of course, but beyond that it was a bonding experience. But of all the "stars" that were there that night (George Jones, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt, Brooks & Dunn, the list goes on), there was one that chilled me to the bone... When Willie, Kris & George came on stage to do Highwayman, Willie & Kris did their verses, then George was supposed to do Waylon's but he didn't sing... I don't know to this day what happened, but of course that wasn't on TV because the song was incomplete, but the person who did Cash's verse FLOORED me...
Hank Williams, Jr was standing there with a smile on his face and a microphone in his hand. He had his shades on and I think a cowboy hat, but when he opened his mouth to sing... "I fly a starship..." I had chills. And when he continued with "across the universe divide" he had more power on that stage than the other three put together. It was like he was reaching down into his soul and pouring it all out to do the best he could for Cash's memory and family.
Thanks for reading...