24 June 2013

I studied improvisation at Second City several years ago and, as anyone who has ever taken an improv class knows, the prime rule of improv is “Yes and...”   If your improv partner says, “Things really got weird when the man wearing the tutu and tiara served me Communion yesterday,” your only option is to go with that and build on it. Otherwise, if you say, “That didn’t happen....” or something similar, the scene comes to a dead stop. 

I now think life comes to a dead stop if you don’t say “Yes and...” to the ideas that are presented to you and I have the blog to thank for that.

Part of my journey this year is to say yes more. Though you wouldn’t know if unless you knew me very, very well, I can be a bit of an Eeyore. I’m not gloomy or depressed or have my tail attached by a nail and a bow, but I often think of why something won’t work before I think of all the reasons why it will.

Three weeks ago, I wrote about how letting go of that kind of thinking led to my getting a beautiful new (to me) bed for free. Two weeks ago, I let all that go again. My friend Cathy and I were on the phone talking about the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The SHOF takes a number of songwriters each year and salutes them. It’s a private banquet and it is one of the best evenings I have ever attended. When I was at Billboard, the SHOF and MusiCares were my two favorite annual events. Any artist will tell you that he or she wants to be remembered as a songwriter more than as a performer or recording artist because a song lives on forever. It’s always a magical night, with songwriters saluting their own kind all in celebration of song. 

Cathy had written about SHOF’s upcoming induction for Billboard and I had told her that she had to get herself from D.C. to NYC for the ceremony no matter what. So three days in advance, we were talking about her trip and I was making her promise to text me all during the event. I was in North Carolina visiting my dad. It must have hit us at about the same time, but next thing you know, we were figuring out if I could meet her in New York in less than 72 hours and go with her. She emailed the SHOF to see if they had a press place for me (tickets are normally $1000/pop), I started scouring the web for a cheap airfare and texted my neighbor in Los Angeles to see if she could overnight the dress I wanted to wear to me. The old me would have said there was no way it could all work out and we still had to leave some major parts up to good luck and chance, but with a framework in place, by the end of Tuesday, I was set to fly to New York on Thursday morning. 

Of course, that day, storms came through the Northeast and flights were getting canceled and delayed left and right. Somehow, my flight, even with a change on D.C., managed to get in only an hour late. It was supposed to be pouring in New York. It was only overcast, not a drop in sight. I was supposed to be confined to a separate viewing area, I was at a table behind Billy Joel. Ever star that could possibly align did and it was all because I was willing to say yes and go even though there was a great deal of uncertainty around some areas of the trip. 

The evening was, as always, magical. I got to see artists and songwriters whom I adore like Elton John, Steven Tyler, Rob Thomas, and Joel. Seeing Lou Gramm and Mick Jones reunite for the first time in more than a decade to perform Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” with a choir,  hearing Petula Clark sing “Downtown” to the tune’s songwriter/inductee Tony Hatch and watching Alison Krauss breathe angelic life into honoree J.D. Souther’s “Faithless Love” were all supremely wonderful moments. 

This year continues to change me and I’m convinced the blog is leading the way by opening my heart every day. The connection between the blog and my willingness to jump on a plane may not be readily apparent, but it’s there and it’s something I’m tremendously grateful for. 

And I’m thankful for music and songwriters. The SHOF doesn’t take donations online, so, instead, I’m donating to a British organization called The Songwriting Charity.

Through a variety of partners, The Songwriting Charity presents one-day workshops that teach children how to write songs and record them individually and as a group. Guy Fletcher, who has written songs for everybody, including Elvis Presley, the Hollies, Cliff Richard, Ray Charles and many, many more, is the group’s main patron. Who knows? A kid who attends one of their workshops today could be getting inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame a few years from now. 

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