Tuesday, September 17, 2019

When I Die I May Not Go to Heaven


I went to the city to see Tanya Tucker at the Bowery Ballroom.  I was more thrilled to have dinner with my pal and enjoy lively conversation but was also a little curious to see what this woman had to say at this point in her career and life.  I tend to roll my eyes at Manhattan these days.  I still love so many parts of it but it is also a living showcase for stupidity.  Take these new sneakers.  Look closely.  These are new, distressed shoes.  And they're serious.  And they are expensive. Someone slap someone immediately for this nonsense.
Given the plethora of amazing dining spots in the city, my friend chooses her corner diner each time to meet. We've visited this place under a few different names, now the Kitchen Sink.  I like that a place tries new things and they seem to care.  Our water came in a nice cold glass bottle with added cucumber and mint.  And they used mason jars to serve which I thought was a nice touch.  They also put the fries in wax paper and a tiny fry basket, which is a cute idea. It doesn't take much for me to be impressed in casual dining settings.  The waitress was super sweet and the food is basic diner food but prepared with thought. 
When I visit my bud I just sort of role up on her, like in jump rope games. Literally, I just saw her walking by and ran to catch up and thus begun the night.  She doesn't say 'Hey hi, so nice to see you or hug like other folks.  She just starts talking as if time did not exist.  I actually love this.  Its like some type of space continuum.  It doesn't allow for social awkwardness.  You're already inline, you just have to maintain the conversation.  There is no beginning or end to any of it, until I'm on the subway going home thinking, wow, that was interesting. 
We kept it going up to and onto the Bowery Ballroom floor where we talked consciousness and simulated universe possibilities.  The opening band included Tanya's daughter Presley and who was entertaining but we agreed seriously needed a songwriter. There's nothing worse than terrible lyrics. But Presley had qualities that made her compelling, and a strong voice.  My advice would be to go solo.

And then Tanya came on stage and everything changed in the world.  I grew up knowing about how Tanya had come up at the tender age of 13 and took the country world by storm.  I read in the magazines when her whirlwind romance with Glen Campbell came off the rails.  I would file her in my brain as the young girl singer with a wild streak.  But she stayed out there, doing her thing, making records, making money, children.  I forgot about her.  Until now.  She sang some of her hits and filled the room with her essence.  That smelled of vodka, tequila and bad choices but also lots of personal, fun times.  She was alive but not living some stale memory, she was facing the world in some brave manner that seemed foreign to the setting.  She felt very real even if her version was as odd as anything.  She wore a mad hatter type hat, over pink hair, drank and told stories and rambled a bit.  She wore tons of makeup but her piercing blue eyes shone through the mascara out onto the crowd like sapphires.  More than that she somehow showed us where her voice comes from, like leading us through some shamanistic journey.  She sang songs that were written for her that became custom made for the night. 

Instead of putting some dumb broad on a pedestal that confesses 20 years after the fact that some guy showed her their winkie, this was a truly brave, strong woman that had lived through abuse and addiction, hard struggles as well as wealth and stardom but yet was here humbly laying down real work for us on a small stage and killing it.  She wasn't perfect or innocent, she just showed you who she was and sang.  That to me was more inspiring than any woman story I've heard this year.

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