I don’t know if we’ve ever been able, in our society, to truly talk and listen to each other but, at this point in time, we seem to be at an all time low at doing so. I remember when I first really began to notice how divided we are in our social intercourse.
It was just a few years ago and l was in the mellowest of moods, in a groove, just kicking back with my wife and our kids, out at Humphrey’s by the Bay, a perfect place to be on such a balmy San Diego eve as that night was, listening to an old soul mate of mine (as we’re both progressive thinking people from Tucson), Linda Ronstadt, just pretty-fy, if you will, the evening air with music and song. I mean she was on.
Linda kicked off the set with “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” giving it just the right attitude, flashing me back to my childhood in the 40’s growing up in the Old Pueblo, escaping the summer sun with a glass of cold Kool Aid (red), listening to the Nat King Cole Trio sing that old jazz standard via my victrola – in the same hip upbeat way.
Then she slowly, with inimitable incredible ease, unleashed the ranges of her magnificent voice, those shattering highs and soothing lows and all the funky nuances of tone in between. Oh, her singing weakens my knees and I just gave into her artistry, moving my body with the beat, patting my thighs and tapping my feet, resisting singing out loud since everybody had paid mucho bucks for their seat. I was a man, in those moments, at peace with the world.
And then the most unsettling thing happened. Linda uttered a bit of praise for Michael Moore and in the next moment, without a hint of warning, before I could say “Amen,” a man yells at Linda like she was an umpire who had made a call that cost his team the World Series and him his life’s savings. This heckling dude literally startled me out of my chair. He told her: “Stop the political bullshit and just sing!” Then he and other jeering people fled the premises looking like mimes as “Desperado” drowned the sounds of their hideous hateful display. I thought: Has narrow mindedness overtaken the USA?
Now as for me, I showed up expecting Linda to make a comment about something going on in society. She always has. And she does it from the heart, softly, openly, thoughtfully, with love, in but a few breaths. And I know from experience that she was nurtured in love as she and I bonded before she was born, back when my grandfather would say something to me like: “Boy, take this money and go to Ronstadt’s Hardware and get me a bucket o’ six penny nails.” And I’d hustle because I knew an ice cream cone or some kind of goody was in the deal and that in my visit to the Ronstadt store I would never be subjected to that “What can I getcha, eightball?” kind of attitude that little black boys like me often had to put up with back then.
Ronstadt’s Hardware was so refreshing, one of the few places where I could fully relax, untaxed by my color, one of the places where I saw that good people come in all colors. And before I knew who Linda Ronstadt was she had already, on her family’s coattails, entered my heart and soul and, over the years, as a follower of her music and views, I’ve come to love and appreciate her unconditionally. So when they yelled at her that evening they might as well have been yelling at me because I, like Linda, want a better world, a world where in passing a singing icon could feel free to say, within a very short and snappy phrase: “This evening I’d just like to acknowledge and thank Michael Moore, a great American Patriot, for telling it like it is, showing us the truth” without people gasping for air and hyperventilating.
First of all I don’t understand the kind of hatred Michael has generated in some circles. I mean he might not be somebody’s cup of tea but he never fails to issue some news we can use. It amazes me that people who live in what we like to refer to as the Land of the Free, can so easily abuse such a liberty by, for lack of better words, just “hating on each other” – like we’re an episode on Jersey Shores or NBA Wives.
And with Linda that night it was like a mob suddenly decided that she wasn’t to have thoughts and views, ignoring that she had simply in an eloquent and soulful manner, demonstrated what patriotism is all about: Speaking out. She merely thought out loud and gave us a little tidbit to think about.
It was a shame but Linda got right back into her game with “Blue Bayou” and with hateful hearts having shown themselves the door, love came back into the venue like a gift descending upon us from beyond. And we created in those moments a better world.
All, for a while, was forgotten. Love ruled.
Linda and those of us who stayed were committed to just having a good time with some great music. What if in today’s world we could capture and express in our hearts and souls such a spirit of sharing and caring, much like the degree of concern that Tucsonans have nurtured each other with in order to get through the sadness that has weighed down their recent days. Wouldn’t it be something truly glorious if our society could muster that kind of love for each other as a way of life? Think of how much better we could listen to each other and how more efficient we’d become at solving our social and political problems. Think of the legacy we’d be leaving our children.
Why, we’d be as pretty to watch as Linda’s songs are to listen to.