Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Invisible Award

A few weeks ago, I shared the stage with three very talented singer-songwriters who are also friends of mine.  In introducing us, the emcee was very generous with her praise.  Among other things, she highlighted the fact that my three friends had each received a prestigious award in recognition of their achievements. I was last to be introduced. Our host said some very nice things about me as well, but there was no missing the fact that I was distinctly lacking in the awards department.

Now, I am not a jealous man. I was not in the running for any of the awards my friends received, and I’m well aware of how fully they deserve them.  I generally view my lack of prizes with considerable equanimity. There’s no denying, however, that on this occasion I felt a certain momentary awkwardness as the only Non-Award-Winner in a lineup of Award-Winning Singer-Songwriters.  Accordingly, when it was my turn at the microphone, I thanked our host, acknowledged my fellow performers, and said, tongue-in-cheek, “I can see that I’ve gotta get me some awards!” It got a laugh, which was all I was after; then I forgot about it.

The evening went very well, with the four of us taking turns sharing songs for a smallish but attentive audience.  I played “The Dance That You Saved Me” and "Newborn Girl” from The Devil's Day Off, "Western Lodge" from Made of Sky, "This Love Is A Weed" from Practical Man, and maybe a couple of others.  At the end of the show, the host came up to thank everyone and wrap things up; first, however, she took the time to read aloud a note that had been handed to her by an audience member, addressed to me. 

I have been a bit shy about sharing that note here, because I feared it might look as if I was fishing for awards or, even worse, somehow resenting my friends’ success, which is really not the case. In the end I realized that the note was important to me; it made me feel good, and I’ve decided to share it.  Here’s what it said:

“To get an award you need to apply or be nominated.
I can only believe, after listening to you tonight, never having heard you before, that you didn’t apply and your friends may have been busy!
Your poetry is unbelievable! As [our host] would say, “Incredible!”
“Apricot light”?!!? As a photographer, I have never heard that dusk light described so absolutely perfectly. BTW, that’s just one example of the beauty that is your song.

I want you to have an award. I have no award here tonight to give you. I wish I did.
I don’t know if will make any difference to you, BUT you made a lovely, wonderful, emotional difference to me.

Thank you,

An audience member.”

In thanking the writer for this generous praise, I said “this is an award”; and I hope that doesn’t sound like mere hoohah.  The invisible award that happens when a single person listens to a song of mine and loves it will always be precious to me.