Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pete & Arlo

(I sat on this for a while, then finally decided to type and post what I'd written in a notebook the evening after seeing Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie at Carnegie Hall.)

I was early enough to buzz the Carnegie Hall Museum and catch the buskers outside for a while. I settled into my seat - the very farthest back corner of the theater - then traded it for the other very furthest back corner so a lady could join her two friends on the other side.

Seeing Pete Seeger was magical. I'd already decided that he was the greatest living person, and only felt more certain of that fact at the show.

To see 89-year-old Pete Seeger, with his Mexican grandson on stage, alongside Arlo and his four kids, and several grandkids, all descendants of Woody, I had to mentally note, was a celebration of life and continuity, of spirit and family and love and the functionally living ideals of peace and togetherness.

And the music was beautiful and powerful and funny and uplifting and as Arlo said, exatly what the world is supposed to sound like ("When people sing together, it fixes things. It's the sound of the world as it's supposed to be.")

The whole night was one of those moments in life when all is right, when the moment itself is accompanied by the crystal realization that you're in the midst of one of the greatest things you'll ever do.

It's happiness, mixed with the sense that it's actually, partially at least, you're doing, and intensely and personally historic. And then comes the creeping realization that you're also in a historic moment as far as the world goes as well. It's history, in the sense of plain old history.

When I first heard of the show, I didn't think I'd actually be there. But I came to the knowledge that I could and should, and had without a doubt earned it, and ultimately, I have the power to make great moments for myself, and that life is made out of such moments.

And as Arlo himself said, quoting Marilyn Monroe, "Ever notice how 'What the hell?' is always the best decision?"

And so I'm here, staring out the window at the Chrysler Building, shining in a dark and rainy fall night, in a city that's carried this world for well over a century, a partially vagabondish character taking grateful advantage of the hospitality of a friend and letting my spirit become brighter in the face of new and great experiences. I'm recharged, renewed and improved, and thinking about how this city intertwines the lives of so many people, and about how so much of the history of the things that I love was written here: This is a city of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, of so many musicians and artists and writers and thinkers and people who simply came here seeking life, and found it.

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