I remember watching the movie “The Doors”, about the rock group of the same name. And there was a scene in the movie where Jim Morrison serenaded his girlfriend with a song. That scene has stuck with me for years, a little fantasy I harbor, that I may find someone who will sing to me in that way. To me that is the joy of music; poetry with a melody, the perfect combination of words and sounds. This story is a twist on the usual scenario of the fan who watches and admires an artist – sometimes the artist can also become the fan. I am also including a poem about how deeply music touches my soul, how moving it would be to have a private audience with an artist that I admire, wanting to almost melt into them as they perform.
More than Just a Fan
Maggie saw him there in the crowd – she had just finished her first song, mumbling a quick “thanks” to the audience – she was always so nervous until she got that first song out of the way. She had her head down, with the heavy red curls that made up her hair, draping around her face. As a performer she was one of the quieter ones. She usually didn’t watch the crowd too much but he kept gazing at her, and not in a creepy kind of way but with a genuine look that pulled her in. Maggie knew that a lot of her fans identified with the music she sang; her songbook was made up of songs about love in all its different forms – the joy, the heartache, the roller coaster ride that love could be. The word that came to mind as she tried not to stare at him was captivating. This man in front of the stage, in his plain black hoodie and baby blue stocking cap that covered his shoulder length brown hair – certainly not anything fancy but there was just something about him, a feeling every time she caught his gaze. Get a grip – she told herself, as she started in on the next song. Soon she found herself lost in the music, but the thought of meeting the man in the crowd just would not go away.
After finishing her set and the requisite encore, Maggie went backstage and set her guitar down in the corner of the dressing room. Normally she would sit down and unwind a bit, gathering her thoughts about how the show went. But this night her thoughts weren’t on the show she had just played, they were on the captivating mystery man – she had to meet him! Maggie walked through the backstage throng of people that always seemed to assemble after a show – a mix of music people and those who were hangers-on – the ones lucky enough to get back there past the bored security guy. She hurried out to the bar area of the club she had just played in, scanning the crowd for the baby blue stocking hat. The club she had just played in, Cacophony, was one of the smaller venues in town. But it had a warmth that seemed to embrace music, with posters pasted up on the walls from different people and bands that had played there since its opening in the late 70’s. The diminutive size of the club made it easy to find him. There he was! She found him sitting at the bar with a friend of his she assumed, and she breathed a sigh of relief to see it was a male friend. She walked up to the bar, standing in the empty space next to him, on the pretense of ordering a drink.
“Hi – I saw you there, in the front by the stage – did you enjoy the show?” Maggie asked him, trying to stop the quiver in her voice.
“Yeah, you were great! – just like the last time I saw you play,” the stocking hat stranger replied.
“My name is Maggie – well duh, I guess you already knew that. And what’s your name?” Good lord, she was coming off like a complete idiot!
“My name is Nathan – and I really love your music,” he replied in an understated fashion; but it was so lovely, Maggie thought to herself.
“Where did you see me play before?” Maggie asked him.
“I saw you a couple months ago when you played at Bohemia – you were wonderful. But with my crazy work schedule I don’t get out as much as I’d like.”
“Well thank you,” Maggie replied. “What do you do for work that keeps you from getting out?”
“I’m a firefighter – I love what I do, even with the odd hours – it gives me a lot of free time to work on what I really love,” Nathan explained.
“And what would that be?” Maggie queried.
“Well, I write and play a bit of music myself – but mainly just for me. I don’t know that any of it is good enough to see the light of day outside my window,” Nathan told her modestly.
“Would you consider playing something for me? It’s been so long since I’ve had anyone play for me – I’ve been so busy playing for everyone else. Please, come backstage with me – if you don’t mind – I would love to hear your songs.” What in the world had gotten into her – Maggie had no idea if this person was single, taken or just didn’t care, but she wasn’t going to let him get away without finding out.
“Sure, why not – if you’re sure you don’t mind. Sometimes I think my friends get tired of having to listen to me play all the time, but I love to play for people when I get a chance. But it’s been awhile, so I may be kind of rusty,” he said in a shy and humble manner.
What a refreshingly genuine person Nathan seemed to be – so many artists seemed to be full of ego and pretentiousness, especially around other artists – as if they were always competing against each other. But Maggie sensed none of this in Nathan. She was very anxious to hear what he had to offer in the way of his music; would it fit his down to earth demeanor, she wondered? She was hoping so bad that it would, and soon she would find out.
They walked to the back of the club and through the backstage door. Maggie’s manager, Theo, was standing there and started to say something like “who the hell” before Maggie gave him the evil eye to shut the hell up. Even though she wasn’t big news on the national scene, she had gathered quite a loyal fan base in Minneapolis, and bringing a fan backstage was sure to cause a ruckus once the news got out. But Maggie didn’t give a damn what the local music papers said, she was captivated by Nathan already. She felt like he understood her; call it women’s intuition but they had some kind of connection – she felt it every time they locked eyes.
Nathan found a chair in the dressing room and sat down, while Maggie got her guitar from the corner of the room where she had left it.
“Would you like something to drink? It’s on me – they don’t charge me anything you know.” Oh for crying out loud, there she went again, sounding like a schoolgirl with her first crush.
“Thanks, that would be great – I’ll just have a beer – whatever they have on tap that’s the cheapest is fine with me,” Nathan told her.
He was so polite, in a quaint sort of way and he certainly wasn’t taking advantage of her hospitality. “Okay, I’ll be right back – that’ll give you time to tune the guitar the way you like.” Maggie walked out of the dressing room and almost ran to the bar; afraid that Nathan might sneak out while she was away. But he was still there when she got back, in the same chair, lazily strumming away on the guitar.
“Did you decide what you wanted to play?” Maggie asked him.
“Yeah, it’s a song called I Part the Sky – I wrote it for a friend of mine who’s gone now.” Maggie sat in the chair across the room from him and settled in – and she began to hear the most beautiful melody coming out of her guitar – how could he be so modest about this lovely music? He sang out a song with heartfelt, yet introspective lyrics – not like so much of the superficial songwriting she heard, even from some of her friends. Nathan finished his song and Maggie excitedly clapped her hands in appreciation.
“That was wonderful!” she cried. “How long have you been doing this and why haven’t you tried to put your work out there?”
“I’ve been writing songs since I was a teenager – I learned to play guitar and piano when I was a kid. I guess I just do it for the sake of doing it, you know. I never thought about doing it as a career but I love to play for my friends when they let me,” Nathan said.
“Let you!” Maggie exclaimed, “They should be begging you to play! You’re good – and I’m not just saying that – would you play something else for me?”
“Alright – here’s a song I love, and I really love playing it.” With that, Nathan played the familiar notes – the beginning of the song that Maggie remembered so well, playing it so often when she was still a member of Wildflowers, the band she used to be a part of until she decided to go solo. It was a song called Moon Love, and she had written it for a lover from so long ago – it was her song of loss; her love having died two years ago. Nathan strummed the last chord and Maggie was surprised to find tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry – that was lovely. It’s just a very personal song about someone I lost too – I miss him – we both loved the moon so much and I had forgotten that.”
“I didn’t mean to upset you. I miss my friend too – she was my best friend and funny thing is, we loved to try and find the moon at night – like hide and seek, you know?” Nathan reminisced.
Maggie wiped her eyes. “Well, enough of sad songs. You really need to bring your songs somewhere so they can be heard – if you want, that is. I’m good friends with the owner of Metronome Records, the label that released my solo album. If you want me to, if you have anything recorded, I could bring it over there and see what they think. But I have a feeling that you could be looking at a possible album in your future.” Nathan had real talent and Maggie liked to think she had a good ear for talent that deserved to be heard.
“Well, I have been recording some stuff on the 4 track equipment I have at home. It sounds a little rough around the edges, but if you really want I’ll get a copy of what I have so far. This is so nice of you – helping out someone you just met like this,” Nathan quietly told her.
Oh my God, he was so genuinely nice – Maggie was smitten! But besides that, he played such pretty music – he was a natural – why did people hide such talent away? Well, she was going to take care of that. But first, she had an idea.
“Here’s my number – please give me a call and let me know when that demo tape is ready and I’ll take it to my friend at Metronome. And before you go, would you do me one other favor?”
“Sure,” Nathan said, “what is it?”
“Would you walk outside with me so we can play hide and seek with the moon?”
Nathan gave her the most beautiful smile as she reached for his hand; Maggie knew, she just knew that Nathan was going to turn out to be more, oh so much more than just a fan.
When I hear your music
I am mesmerized
It pulls me in
I glide along with the melody
Your songs touch my soul
They sing to me
Others sing yet I feel nothing
I only feel your passionate voice
You play your guitar
Caressing so gently
I am awestruck watching
May I touch you while you play?
You stroke the piano keys
Melodies so angelic
May I touch your fingers while you play?
You breathe out the words
Full of passion
Full of meaning
May I touch your lips to taste the words?
You live and breathe
The beauty of music
Take me with you
I am carried away