I love and admire many female musicians. They are varied and work in different genres – rock, folk, country, pop, and even a few rap artists. This summer I was fortunate enough to see a number of them as part of my “bucket list” – Tori Amos, The Indigo Girls, Joan Baez, Amy Ray, Melissa Etheridge, and Lucinda Williams. This past week, Lucinda Williams made an in-store appearance at Music Millennium in Portland, OR and I was fortunate enough to get to see her again.
They had announced on the radio that there were 200 guaranteed tickets available, if you came in and bought Lucinda’s new cd or album. We stopped by and bought the cd and I received my ticket for the appearance. The day of the event, I had a radiation session and by the time I arrived at MM I was feeling a little bit off and not up to standing in line outside. I asked the guys at the counter if they had somewhere I could sit down and they graciously offered me the barber’s chair in the shop to hang out in. One of the employees told me his wife is currently battling cancer and he completely understood. After I sat in the chair, another gentleman stopped by to tell me they had arranged for me to have a chair upstairs for Lucinda’s performance. I hadn’t been there before for an event, so I wasn’t sure where that was, but I thanked him.
Just as they started letting people into the store, I was led up the stairs and shown my spot for the evening – a chair diagonally across from where Lucinda would be performing. I was in awe and thanked them again. “I think it’s safe to say you’ll have the best seat of the night”, the gentleman told me. I couldn’t really argue. Everyone else was down on the lower level, looking up at the performance area. There were a few photographers and other folks upstairs near me, but I had an unobstructed view. Another employee stopped by and told me he needed to make Lucinda’s tea. I looked next to me and there was a teapot, mug, and selection of teas. Pretty darned cool, right? I heard cheering and then looked down to see Lucinda walking up the stairs. She took her place, with her guitar, and began to play.
She played new songs, older songs, covers, and at one point I found myself crying, just a little bit. She was playing “Joy”, a song that usually gets me riled up, but one that I have connected to on a deeper level during treatment.
The sound was awesome and I couldn’t believe how everything had worked out. I was so grateful to be there, in that moment. I knew there was a possibility that I would be able to meet her after the show, but I knew I would start crying and look like a babbling idiot. Next to me were pieces of scratch paper and a pen. I decided to write a note for her, just in case I did get to meet her. I told her that her music had helped me to get through chemo and thanked her. I said a few other things and then added some drawings, one of a unicorn in a boat, gazing at the moon, and one of a little bird chirping. I folded up the piece of paper and placed it on my copy of her cd. I went back to enjoying the music and then the show was over.
They announced that Lucinda would come down for a meet and greet and I realized that I would be at the end of the line. There was no hurry. She moved past me and downstairs, so I walked over to where her guitar and things were in order to take a photograph. I eventually made it downstairs and got into line. The employees continued to be very sweet and kind and checked to make sure I was doing okay. The line moved very slowly and I’m not even sure how long it took to get up to the front – at least an hour.
I handed my cell phone to the fella who was taking photos for people and when I got up to the counter Lucinda smiled at me. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I handed her the note and told her I couldn’t say what I needed to say or I would start crying. She asked if she could read the note and I said yes. She read it and looked at me with that look, you know the one, and I got teary-eyed. She said something to me about if I cried, then she would cry and she said, “You’re beating it though, right?” I replied, “Yes, these are happy tears”. She then came around the counter to hug me. It wasn’t one of those fake hugs, it was a genuine, “I care” hugs that I often get from my friends. It was pretty awesome. We then took a few more photos together and then she signed my cd. There were a few people still in line behind me, so I told her I would get a mug for her out of my car.
I went out to my car and chose three mugs for her to choose from. When I got back into the store, I placed them on the counter and she chose the green monster with the singing bluebird. Somehow, I knew that would be the one she would want. I said goodbye and thanked her and the employees one more time. The fella who had told me about his wife shook my hand and we wished each other the best with everything. It was an evening of kindness, amazing music, and compassion – the name of one of Lucinda’s new songs that I love. If you get a chance, check out her new cd/album. It’s a wonderful collection. I can’t wait until she comes back to Portland in February. ❤