Happy 75th Bday Paul Simon!
A Tribute to Benefit Nashville's Own Musicians Corner
MIRACLE AND WONDER
I had the great privilege of singing among Nashville's finest at the Nashville City Winery last Monday at a Paul Simon Tribute benefitting Musicians Corner. The show was led by my talented friend Scott Mulvahill, bassist and songwriter, and he was kind enough to have me lead "Slip Sliding Away" and "Homeless."
Back in June my husband Chris and I watched Scott head up a Paul Simon Tribute at the Basement East, and along with the audience, we bursted into uninhibited sing-a-longs in eager anticipation of each Simon hit led by an outstanding artist.
Now I could feel it again - that same familiar congenial spirit in the air among us, although this time I was on the stage with a killer backing band including my dear friends Chris Benelli and Jesse Isley among others. But before the first note was played, I felt the contagious excitement you can only get when you ride shotgun on the musical journey of one of the greats.
The energy was present before friendly smiles and greetings, before fresh interpretations of colorful lyrics and before all 30+ singers gathered in the green room to run through "Homeless," the song that would close this epic night of music. To see videos, visit Andrew Peterson's Instagram.
GLIDING DOWN THE HIGHWAY
For the better part of a month I was steeped in Simon's catalog, diving into poetic lyrics and notably peculiar ones like "rollie pollie little bat-faced girl" and "keep it in your pantry with your cupcakes" and "I'm looking at ghosts and empties."
"Slip Sliding Away" was no exception to my wonder and exploration. A story from childhood, I savored rediscovering it. Being re-introduced to the characters in the verses: the consumed martyr, the lost wife, the distant father. The age-old reminder that life happens while we're making other plans:
"God only knows, God makes His plan.
The information's unavailable to the mortal man.
We're working our jobs, collect our pay.
Believe we're gliding down the highway
When in fact we're slip sliding away."
I think in my generation especially, there is a danger in missing out on the good stuff because we're distracted by our own glorious ideas of what could or should be. The good stuff is the stuff of everyday life: little interactions with strangers, preparing a savory meal, sharing struggles with those who matter most to us.
I'm a believer in looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary and when I do this, I'm baffled by how much quiet goodness I overlook.
It was a gift to be reminded of these things, and I was humbled to lead such a profound song.
AND HERE'S TO YOU
I'm used to singing from behind my cozy piano nest, so I have a newfound respect for singers who don't hold (or in my case cling to) an instrument. Empty-handed performances - and karaoke - are both foreign and challenging to me.
But I do love trying to enhance the beauty of others in the spotlight, and I had the honor of singing BGV's for:
- "Mrs. Robinson" - Jenny and Tyler
- "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" - Scott Mulvahill
- "Graceland" - Gabe Dixon
- "Call Me Al" - K.S. Rhoads
- "Still Crazy After All These Years" - Kris Allen
- "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" - Sierra Hull
- "That Was Your Mother" - Scott, Gabe and Pelican 212
- "Late In The Evening" - The Shadowboxers
When we weren't onstage, we were watching from the sidelines as Jason Eskridge made my sister cry (really) with "Bridge Over Troubled Water", The Stellas rocked "The Obvious Child," Andrew Peterson and his daughter Sky hushed the crowd with "Homeward Bound" and Jon McLaughlin, Tony Lucca, Emerson Hart and Matthew Perryman Jones all had us in the palms of their hands with solo performances of songs like "Sound of Silence" and my personal favorite "America."
THE MUSIC SEEPING THROUGH
Working behind the scenes with these musicians gave me a birds eye view I couldn't get from the front row. Witnessing the way everyone performed and interacted with players on stage and off brought to light their professionalism and mutual love for authentic music as a whole experience. More than just solo performances in front of an audience, it was a collaborative participation in something beyond just ourselves.
That's what music does. It connects people. Across cultures, it is a rare love language of the human person.
I know Musicians Corner fosters community around great music, and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of what they do. We truly do live in Music City, and this night was a perfect reflection of the talent and community we all share.
Thank you Scott and all the artists for having me on stage, thank you Paul for the endless inspiration and thank you Musicians Corner for bringing this night into fruition. One for the books!