Saturday, June 10, 2017

Words and Music

The concert at Merriweather went over the 11 o'clock limit by a few minutes last night. I don't think there will be any official complaints as the artist in question was Paul Simon and the song was an acoustic version of The Sound of Silence. It's also possible that some of our community's chief complainers were in the audience.

I could be wrong, but it's possible.

For those of you who go to Merriweather all the time nothing I will say will be surprising. But here goes anyway.

It was a beautiful evening in Columbia, Maryland to share the music of one of my favorite artists. It was the perfect venue for hearing a crowd sing along to song after song--even jumping in to carry the melody when Simon's voice gave out and he needed a drink of water. The sense of a community of people who knew and loved Paul Simon's work was palpable.

I'm not a particular fan of being in large crowds. I find them overwhelming. But last night's event felt manageable, somehow. Probably because of the hardworking staff that kept things organized and helped people get where they needed to go. And a lot of the credit goes to the venue itself. It is just the right size. It has the right feel for a hometown summer concert. It has a very special "sense of place."

As a music teacher I often see conversations lamenting the disappearance of group singing in community life. There used to be quite a bit of it in this country. Singalongs were a popular form of entertainment back in the day before television and film and the distractions of modern life. The closest that most people come to community singing is the national anthem at ball games. Last night's  spontaneous song-fest was a beautiful testament to how much people know and love Paul Simon's work.

And it's a sign that we can all still sing together, if we can find a common inspiration.

Simon made a few comments in passing about anger being an addiction that is running rampant in our nation right now. Later on he paused before beginning a song to say, "practice kindness."

If all the people gathered at Merriweather last night carry away a sense of community and a desire to practice kindness, imagine what good could be spread in the world.

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