Sometimes being a writer can make you crazy. I mean, it’s bad enough that we hear voices in our heads, but when we start arguing with those voices, we know we’re in trouble.
Last week I had the delightful pleasure of seeing Livingston Taylor perform at Rockport’s beautiful Shalin Liu Performance Center. Though a longtime fan of Liv’s brother, James Taylor, I knew little about Liv or his music and wasn’t sure what to expect. The show unfolded on an intimate stage with the Atlantic ocean (viewed through, as one of Liv’s guest performers put it, “the cleanest windows I’ve ever seen”) as a backdrop. Despite the dramatic setting, the stunning view was forgotten once the performers began weaving their tales with music and humor.
Joining Taylor onstage were two of his students from the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he teaches a two-part course called Stage Performance . Matt Cusson is an immensely talented pianist/songwriter/singer who opened the show and later joined Taylor for additional numbers. And then there was the lovely Megan Hilty who, among other numbers, performed a beautifully impromptu version of “Over the Rainbow” with Taylor. The sweet authenticity of the performance in all its imperfect perfection brought tears to my eyes.
If you’re wondering what all this has to do with writing, I’m getting there.
Throughout the performance, Taylor shared personal anecdotes about how he wrote various songs. From how he “borrowed” melodies or chord transitions from other composers to how one song started out as one idea and became something entirely different to how another song began as an apology for a botched Valentine’s Day, Taylor gave his audience an peek at his creative process. Though our mediums – music and literature – might be different, I found many of his stories rang as true for my kind of art as for his.
But more on that in another post.
One of my favorite performances of the evening was a folksong called “Railroad Bill.” I laughed all the way through and kept thinking, “Yes. Yes! That totally happens!” If you’ve ever had a character sass you, you’ll love this. So here, without further ado, the “traditional” folksong, “Railroad Bill:”
Wasn’t that great?!?
Like I said, it’s good to be the writer.
After the show, I picked up a copy of Taylor’s book, Stage Performance (more on that in a future post). I also lingered (along with my beau, daughter, and parents) with the handful of fans who stayed to get autographs and photos. After some cajoling, I managed to overcome my shyness and ask for a photo. Taylor took this “double selfie” with my daughter’s iPod (her camera is way better than the one on my aged iPhone). I felt like a goof, but – as you can see – I was also grinning like an idiot. Clearly, I was having a good time.
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.