Well Get On With It!
One of my favorite stories is when I had my very first heckler. As I was playing at a facility in Green Bay one very loud lady up in the front would yell out whenever there was a few seconds break between songs, “well, get on with it!” And then when we sang Amazing Grace, she sang out real loud, ” Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like you…” Lovely woman.
It was at that very same facility, perhaps that very same concert that a man decided to join in playing his harmonica. The only problem was that his harmonica was in the key of “C” and none of my songs were. Once I asked him what key his harmonica was in, I changed a few songs to that key so that he could play along.
Did She Just Say That?
This is a story about a lady who was nicknamed “Corky”. She was suffering from some debilitating illness that affected her mind and her ability to communicate. After the concert I went up to her to shake her hand and she said to me, “Thank you very much for coming, I really appreciated it.”
The manager of the place leaned out of his nearby office and asked, “did she just say that?” His surprise told me that this was very unusual for her to make a cohesive sentence. Was this the healing effect of music or something more?
When I was first getting started doing concerts there was a particular place I would frequent here in Appleton where I met a man named George. In fact, it was at that very same facility where I had played for “Corky” in the above story. George loved to read and always had a book in his hand every time I was there. We would talk about whatever book he was reading or have conversations about his past.
He told me that he had had a hard life – haunted with the pain of his divorce. He was a teacher from an area near where I had grown up. He taught in a little town in Idaho called Priest River. While growing up, my family and I would drive through Priest River every year as we went up to Priest Lake and the surrounding mountains to pick huckleberries. He said that his passion in life was not in teaching a larger group but more so when he was able to mentor a student and to really connect. And he mentioned that he saw the same enjoyment and passion in what I was doing. George passed away on Fathers Day. When I learned of his death, I remarked to God, “well, he is in your hands now.” But then I realized that he always had been.
He’s got the little bitty baby!
This next story is one that really touched my heart recently. I was playing a concert out in Wild Rose and had played the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”. A few songs later I see a man struggle out of his wheelchair in the back of the room and hobble up to where I was. With tears in his eyes he blurts out, obviously very distraught, “He’s got the little bitty baby in his hands! He’s got the little bitty baby in his hands! ”
When I had done that song earlier, I had not sung that verse of that song, probably to shorten it up a bit. But he wanted to sing it. So he stood up there with me and we sang it together. It was such a beautiful moment.