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Learn to Love it

February 24, 2009

I saw Vince Gill tonight.

For two hours an auditorium full of people sat quietly, almost reverent, just listening to this man. Two hours. And he only played one song.

He told stories, answered question after question posed by the ever lovely celebrity columnist and MTSU professor Beverly Keel, talked about songwriting, his father, his daughter, Jenny and his wife, Amy Grant.

I am now of the opinion that Amy Grant is the most beautiful woman to walk the face of the planet. Photos, video– they do her no justice. I simply watched her walk into the room and take her seat among the crowd, and I have never seen any woman handle herself with such grace. And Vince talks about her like she is God’s angel sent to earth. Forget being the Demi to his Ashton. I wanna be the Amy to his Vince. Oh my.

So many of the things Vince spoke about tonight I found myself nodding enthusiastically after. I am the younger, female version of Vince as a songwriter. We have all the same ideas- we believe the same things about music and life and how it should all fit together.

That feels good.

He did great impressions of many people– Eric Clapton, Eddy Arnold– but the best was when he pulled out his “dad” voice. None of us knew anything about his dad, but we could surely see that man shining through his son tonight. It was funny, because my own dad has always been a big Vince fan, for his incredible golf talent as well as his musical talent. As Ms. Keel introduced him tonight, she mentioned Vince’s golf hobby, and his handicap, and I immediately had to pull out my phone and text my dad:

“I’m at a songwriter night with Vince Gill and they just announced his handicap: 1!”

My dad immediately texted me back:

“Ha! I knew he was slipping!”

Vince’s dad wasn’t much of a musician. He knew three chords on the guitar and three chords on the banjo. He wasn’t much of a singer. He taught Vince what he knew and told him he was on hiw own from there. But what Vince told us tonight was that what he truly learned from his father wasn’t music, but the love of music.

And I had to think back to one afternoon when I was in Kindergarten, five or six years old, when I asked my dad to pull out the CD that had a lady on the front- it was gray- and it had the “broken heart” song on it. “Do we have that one, daddy? Tawnee’s daddy has it and we listen to it in the car when he picks us up from school. You have it too, don’t you?” And he pulled out Reba’s “For My Broken Heart,” popped it in the stereo, and we stood facing each other, me gazing up at him, as we listened to that album front to back.

One day he came home with Garth Brooks’ “No Fences” and I followed him down the stairs to the stereo where he promptly popped the CD in. “The Thunder Rolls” leads off the album, and the sound of thunder introduces the song. The sky had been blue moments earlier when I’d bounded down the stairs after him, but as soon as I heard that effect on the surround sound, booming through our entire basement, I had to leap back up the stairs. The sky was still blue.

“Dad! Where is the thunder coming from?”
He smiled mischievously. “Hmm. I don’t know.”

And then we stood in our spots in that room, facing each other, and we listened to the album front to back.

Christmas 2008, “World,” by Five For Fighting had been saturating ever television station we watched. Every other commercial was soundtracked with that song, and my dad commented on it every single time. “You know, I don’t know why, but I really love Five for Fighting.” “I need to get the latest Five for Fighting album.” “God, this is a good song.”

And when he unwrapped his gift from me on the morning of December 25, 2008, he found a live Five for Fighting CD/DVD set.

And we were in a different house, but we went downstairs, and he popped that CD into the stereo, and we stood, facing each other.

And we listened that that album front to back.

My dad played saxophone like a dream. He could sit down at the piano and throw chords together like you wouldn’t believe. He could even sing a little in his day.

But what did I really learn from my dad? Did I learn the music?

No.

I learned to love it.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. molly permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:00 am

    I love this story and you tell it so well. Last line seriously gave me chills.

  2. theoddduckling permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:20 am

    I’m still insanely jealous that you got to hear the Vince Gill speak but happy that you had the opportunity.

    I grew up loving the music, now I find myself in your dad’s position. Teaching my daughter to love it.

  3. Just Playing Pretend permalink
    February 24, 2009 7:00 am

    I don’t really know why but this moved me to tears. I really cried. It makes me miss my Dad. I think I’ll call him tomorrow. Thanks.

  4. February 24, 2009 3:02 pm

    I love the parallel that you just drew here. And what a fantastic story this is!

    It sounds like listening to Vince was inspiring and a fantastic time. How’d you find out about it?

  5. verybadcat permalink
    February 24, 2009 9:58 pm

    Another Daddy’s girl? We should start a club…….

    No singing talent in our family. None. Can you say tone deaf (almost)?

    However. Daddy and I would sing and dance to Billy Joel. Always.

    You made me wish he wasn’t 800 miles away, so we could go out for ice cream and sing “Only the Good Die Young” again. :)

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