Monday, October 3, 2016

Two Men, Five Guitars, Four Bottles of Water

Saw Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen Saturday night, intimately, at the Capital Center for The Arts in Concord, NH.

These two guys walked on to the stage together, sat down side by side with their guitars and spent the next two and a half hours trading songs and swapping stories.

In simplicity and beauty.

They have known each other since 1976 when they both started building musical careers, both men coming out of Texas.

I had never heard of Robert Earl Keen before Friday. How the hell does this happen? You cannot be aware of everything in your life, even the things that would naturally bring you peace; the things that would connect with your soul - your very essence. Still, it frustrates me to learn that I missed out on forty years of meaningful music.

I loved everything about the man on Saturday night.

In 2012 he was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame, along with Lyle Lovett and the late Townes Van Zandt.

Townes is a guy whose music I worship, whose lyrics blow up our lives with truth and force you to think and to feel and to question. He was considered to be a songwriter's songwriter. Keen mentioned that early in his career he toured with Townes and Guy Clarke, a close friend of Townes and another legend, who I am also in awe of.

How is it that I became aware of Townes and Guy but not Robert? This is one of those life mysteries that I will never understand.

But I know and love him now and that is all that matters.

Lyle and Robert walked out onto that bare stage, no backdrop, no distractions and no decorum, and went to work.

They traded off songs, sometimes harmonizing together, most times sitting back and watching the other guy do his thing.

In between songs they engaged in easy flowing conversation, the type born of forty years of friendship made more meaningful through amazing talent and obvious mutual respect.

They told life stories, they talked about the inspiration for specific songs, they cracked jokes, they spoke of life's disappointments, realities and ironies.

Beautiful. Heartfelt. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, all of it real.

You knew these guys were singing and talking about their lives; things they have experienced, things they have observed.

So intimate.

When you walk out on to a stage with nothing but your guitar and your life experience, when you sing your words to an audience, you are putting your soul out there for everyone to see.

No lies, no games.

It connects deeply with me because this is where I am trying to get to in my life.

No bullshit. No artifice. I want every conversation to be made up of truth and emotion; I don't want people putting up walls between us and I do not want to compromise my soul to make them comfortable.

Had tears running down my cheeks a number of times on Saturday night as I listened to Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.

When an artist can make you cry, that artist has gotten into your soul and your heart.

That is the ultimate human connection.

On Saturday night, Carol and I were lucky enough to listen to Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen sing their lives and swap stories and conversation.

We were in their lives, they were in ours. Almost felt like we had to unplug ourselves to leave the theater after the show.

I am so grateful to be able to enjoy experiences like that.

That night was life laid bare.

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