Last year Jamie surprised me with tickets to a concert of one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Joshua Radin. Now, usually, I am the one who is tuned into the tour dates for any group of interest, but somehow Jamie pulled off this great surprise. Ever since, I have been trying to get back at her (or be like her--isn't emulation the highest form of flattery?). So, when I saw that Joshua Radin would be coming to New York (which musician doesn't come to New York?), I bought tickets and stuck them in her stocking. I believe she was genuinely surprised--I think that's what a high-pitched scream means.
Joshua Radin is part of our history. Early on in our dating days, I lent Jamie a copy of my CD. I figured that if I could give her something that she would have a hard time giving something back--like a great CD of melancholy love songs--that she would be inclined to stick around. My theory proved true, and here we are today: married and merry. If I wasn't that interested in her, I would have given her a Blind Melon CD, or maybe Michael McLean sings his hits.
Friday night we met up at Times Square and took a train down to the East Village, near NYU. Since the concert was starting a little later, we went to a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant, Zabb City (sounds like a Star Wars metropolis). The food was delicious and had just the right amount of spice.
The concert was in one of New York's most famous meeting places, Webster Hall. Once called the "Devil's Playground", Webster Hall has a rich history from Samuel Gompers to Bono. Today it is one of New York's historical landmarks and the host of many college-targeted parties. Webster Hall was once a recording studio for Broadway plays and people like Elvis and Frank Sinatra.
Jamie and I made our way up near the stage and found a pack of short women to stand behind. As we casually listened to the opening band's banjo strums, we congratulated each other on finding the perfect spot to watch the concert. I even secretly said, "Short people DO have a reason to live!"
In our joy we failed to notice that these short women were also Asian. I like to think that it was because racism ended on Inauguration Day and races (and their often-true stereotypes) do not exist. We soon found ourselves behind a line of cameras held straight up, elbows locked. Occasionally, the camera would dive down, only to quickly resurface into our line of sight. We don't think they knew any of the songs, but they new a photo op when they saw one.
The concert was wonderful--he played a short set of some of his most melancholy tunes, and we left feeling subdued and glad to be sober (unlike some other folks around us). I think that Joshua Radin is the reincarnation of James Taylor--just with more hair, and I guess James Taylor is still alive (can you be the reincarnate of somebody who is alive?). In that case, maybe he is more like Dan Folgerburg minus the crumb-catching 70s beard.
One final thought. I grew up forced to watch the Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday mornings where Lloyd Newell would give a short sermon and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would sing some righteous tunes. So something that Joshua Radin said during his concert sort of became my new mantra. He told the story about when Bob Dylan moved out to New York, that someone gave him the advice to "have no envy, no fear". Mr. Radin liked it so much he wrote a song about it. I think the advice that Dylan got was spot on--this city is so full of talent and ego, that you can fill stifled and little no matter how brilliant you are. Too often I see intelligent and successful friends, and I balk at my lackluster skills. I want to try to have no envy, and no fear. So have no envy, no fear.