Last night I was on stage…I feel like a rebel wheel still rolling, still making my ’round the clock traverse on land and sea. I am never nervous on stage now that I realize all my life as a performer I am not the “entertainer” type that seemed to be the square slot I was put in. It was always like the horses that are about to run in the race they enjoy. Maybe the horse is shy like me. Being on stage is maybe similar to how the horse feels in the race. To them its just another romp in the field; pleasant, fun and their whole purpose for being. Little did the trainers know it was no punishment. It was joy, fleeting as it was, to run, to have the wind in your face and knowing the audience was enjoying it too. Perhaps some did know. Sometimes the trainers are so close to the horse that they feel what the horse feels. Perhaps they know the horse is aware of the audience and tolerant in a sense of their passive participation. Perhaps the horse senses that they have anticipation and do not know what to expect but enjoy the beautiful horse and how it runs.
But the performance of Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks, my favorite song to play, I have changed and allow her eloquent words to lilt over the ears of the crowd. I have slowed it down at least double maybe 3x. The incarnation of this slower version was one of those situations where I was put on the spot and I was not ready to perform the fast version I always did with my band. I was having a full blown emotional melt-down and subsequently I heard; “You’re ON!” I slowly walked up on stage in a daze and all I could do was strum one Dm chord over and over with watery eyes and a heart that was about to explode. I couldn’t do my usual rhythm for the song…I was in a stream that was trickling over the rocks and around the branches…tumbling down down down. I had no where to go but continue so I started singing and as soon as I opened my mouth with the words…”and the days go by like a strand in the wind in the web that is my own I begin again” I started crying behind the words. That was the first time I realized I could cry and sing in tune at the same time, like singing in braille which I have mentioned in my introductory post. As I continued singing I got to the words…”with the words of a poet and the voice of a choir and a melody, nothing else matters.” I knew she was right. Nothing else matters. I was going to let this performance transform me if it could. If I could get through this without crash and burn I was triumphant. When I finished singing/crying I looked up at the audience who seemed to be more like a portrait than an actual crowd of living people. Except portraits don’t cry and there were some others crying too. I don’t know if anyone knew what was happening inside me but it was utterly silent, deafening silence. I really don’t remember much after that except that I finished my set and was “free” to go. I have performed it at that speed ever since.
So last night I decided to do that song. The Foundry is a venue that was a depot for making and storing cannonballs for the southern army of “rebels” 150 years ago. It fits. I’m a rebel. So there. But as I sang to the “portrait” I was channeling that moment years ago when I first discovered my power in that song. I didn’t cry but I was hoping somehow the audience could feel my heart and how broken it was and perhaps still is. Maybe they could feel how much joy I felt at the same time while singing that song or any song. My own songs are as much fun to sing and give me fulfillment totally.
This concert in 1982 was bittersweet for Stevie too because it was the last one of her first solo tour that had to be cut short so she could fulfill an obligation in the studio to Fleetwood Mac. Her own father introduced her in this show. She cried several times during a performance that must have been so difficult. She is a songwriter like me. The rebel wheel rolls on…