This past Tuesday evening, while perusing Apple News on my iPad, I stumbled upon a hyperventilating announcer ranting about President Trump and his dealings with CNN interviewer, Jim Acosta. I listened to about ten words and moved on to what seemed to be a more interesting headline only to be informed that since Melania Trump had harsh words for a certain staffer in the White House, omigosh, connect the dots, President Trump must be going to fire Mr. Kelly! (Chief of Staff).
And yada yada yada”.
Distraught by all the negativity, I put my iPad down and turned on the TV to see if I might find a less wearisome distraction on YouTube or something.
Lo and behold, I stumbled upon a 1982 David Letterman show where Letterman had dedicated the entire program to a sole guest, Paul Simon. Mr. Letterman was kind enough to allow Simon to talk about whatever he wished, no “gotchas” or news-making sound-bite questions, just an interesting exchange between the host and one of the most talented poets/singer/songwriters of my generation. I could practically feel my blood pressure ratcheting down as I listened, I was pleasantly reminded of what the world was like before the internet.
Simon was promoting his upcoming tour and through the course of the show graced Letterman and his audience with one of his newer songs (at the time), just his voice and a guitar. Later on, Letterman asked if he would mind singing one more. Simon said he had not anticipated performing two pieces but, being the kind and gentle soul that he is, agreed to share one more.
At the conclusion of the Letterman show I clicked on a video segment of an Arlo Guthrie concert of similar vintage. Toward the end of the show Guthrie was also encouraged to play just one more song. Before doing so, though, he reminisced about an earlier concert where his friend, Pete Seeger, the iconic American folk singer and political activist, had been standing just offstage after completing his set. Guthrie explained that when he began his closing song, which was Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”, Seeger, to everyone’s delight, unexpectedly came back out onto the stage with his banjo and joined in.
On this particular night, coincidentally, Seeger was again backstage. So, after sharing this story with the audience, Guthrie proceeded to reprise Presley’s song in hopes of coaxing Seeger to once again return to the stage and join him in his encore. Which he did, singing along with Guthrie and, as it turned out, the entire audience in the hall. No politics/no angst/no ranting. Just a couple of thousand people singing a beautiful love song together.
Sigh, sometimes I really miss those days.