A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Parce que tu m'aimes

So many concerts all around me this summer! I can't shake the feeling that all this music exists purely for my own enjoyment. Last week's concert (in Armoury Common Park, right behind my house) was so close, I could enjoy it from my kitchen. But tonight's Armoury Common concert, with singer Jose Paolo, managed to be even more personal, in a manner I could never have predicted.

Jose had some pretty powerful pipes, or else an impressive sound system, and I might have made myself comfortable in my loft and enjoyed the event in privacy. But out of respect for the musician, I decided to sit in the park and be counted. At first there were only a few listeners, mostly the AQCA members who were promoting it. But gradually others drifted in....altogether he probably drew about sixty people. Not too embarassing, I guess, considering that there seemed to have been no press at all for the concert.

Jose started with the National Anthem, dedicated more than one song to our soldiers, acknowledged God's power in his life, thanked the audience profusely for coming. He sang in English, Portugese, Spanish, Italian, and French. He did standards like "New York, New York" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home," a little reggae, a little bossa nova, and several ballads. He ended with Elvis's "It's Now or Never." I thought he was just right for the block.

Our AQCA group, comfortably settled in chairs they had brought, listened politely. A couple of toddlers danced and clapped. A few couples nuzzled on benches, lost in their own world. One benchful of stout ladies, who looked to be Hispanic or Portugese, with one tiny wizened granny squeezed between them, clapped and laughed and sang along to many of the songs.

It was a pretty long concert, with Jose trying hard to connect with his audience, and managing to get one lady to dance the macarena with him. Near the end, he sang a French ballad, "Parce que tu m'aimes," dedicating it to all the ladies listening. As a prelude, he walked through the audience, passing out a dozen red roses to the women. I got the last one.

Hokey, but I was touched nevertheless. Compensation in this country seems more and more to me to be allocated in inverse proportion to effort expended. It's remarkable what struggling artists will do to make an impression on their audiences.