Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Applauding


I first saw

Burt Bacharach
in Laughlin, Arizona
in one of those tacky
riverfront casinos,
where he was playing
a one-nighter
in between
his popular years.

He led the orchestra
like a basketball coach,
viscerally and impatiently,
bringing many moments
from the soundtrack
of my Southern California
existence
to life.

Leaving the theatre
I passed a small,
ivy covered enclosure.
It sounded,
smelled like
an afterparty.

Through a missing slat
in the chain link fence
I saw him,
surrounded by
a multigenerational retinue:

he was trim,
stylishly grey,
approachably shorter
and everything
I wanted
to be

when I used to dream
I would grow up
to be
my own version
of him.

I stood there
and started
applauding,

just applauding,

and I kept applauding
in that steady, insistent way
that cut
through all conversation,

until I caught his attention.

He looked at me
and all I could say
was

“Thank you.
It was the thrill of a lifetime
seeing you tonight.”

He smiled,
tipped his head
and mouthed
“thank you”
and went back
to his conversation,

and I moved on,
thankful

that for a second
I made him smile,

scant repayment
for a lifetime of
beautiful music.

[Posted for #openlinknight at www.dversepoets.com - come along and sing your song.]

15 comments:

  1. H has the gift for music and I too enjoyed his songs through the years ~ If this was real life encounter, it was brave and daring of you to clap to catch his attention ~ Cheers ~

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    1. Oh, yes this was very real, and I try to respect a celebrity's privacy, but I was overcome. Thanks!

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  2. Reminds me of the time I met Harry Connick, Jr. It is always quite an experience to meet a star. I love the atmosphere in this... can even smell the party. :)

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    1. Thanks, and I like Harry Connick Jr quite a bit as well.

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  3. nice...glad to return the smile that he gave you in the hearing...sounds like it was a pretty amazing show...but you gave what you could you know...cool tale man...

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    1. Thanks. My wife and I saw him two years ago, in the second row and he was late because he overslept from his nap! He was 82 then and was more alive than many half his age. My wife thinks he's the cutest little old man in the world. I still try write songs that are as good as his, but there's only one Burt.

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  4. Fun remembrance. Loved the line "smelled like an afterparty." Definitely has that SoCal feel to it!

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    1. Yes, every afterparty smells like LA to me, although this was in Arizona.

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  5. Even as a young girl growing up I would think what a handsome man he was. And that smile!! He composed such beautiful music and along with the lyrics by Hal David, phenomenal! So many hits by so many artists. He always struck me as a bit shy when we'd see him on those t.v. specials.
    A lovely capture of a very special memory.

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    1. Thanks, and yes, he's a handsome genius.

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  6. "approachably shorter"...love that...this is a beautiful tribute to a gifted entertainer who has brought hours of pleasure to us all. Bravo! ~jackie~

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  7. What a great way to greet your hero! I bet he remembers the guy who HAD to stop to applaud him on the street. :)

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  8. Anonymous7:36 PM

    I love the way you let us relive this with you .. made us feel like we were there with you, applauding! Thank you, poet friend!

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  9. "that for a second / I made him smile," I love the steady, insistent applauding. I don't think I'd have been so brave, but for that smile, the small moment of connection...who knows.

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  10. Even the tacky one-nighter can have beauty. Doubtful performers in their "in-between years" or even on a downward slide could appreciate this encounter and find some inspiration - even if it's in a third-rate casino or half-empty bar. It's the performance and the personal past that make a hidden collision.

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