It was a Friday night. I put on some old Melanie albums. Jan and I sat and drank a glass of soon-to-be “leftover wine.”
Earlier that day, Jan was perusing the local news and events when she suddenly called to me. “Melanie is playing in Woodstock tomorrow night!” she said. “Do you want to go?”
“Only if we can sit very close and in the center,” I replied.
We checked the seating charts and there were indeed two seats, front and center, in the second row. Boom, we bought the tickets. We were going to see Melanie at an intimate 250 seat venue.
I’m not a nostalgist. I am drawn to music that is alive now. When I listen to old Melanie songs I feel the extreme purity of innocence seeking connection that she always embodied. This Grand Dame of the Woodstock Music Festival so captured the energy of rejuvenation of the time, of freedom, clarity, and the simplicity of love, so that every time I listen to her music it’s like opening a Gran Reserva 1969. I am never disappointed.
Melanie opened the set with “Beautiful People.” Her voice was a little shaky, seemed a bit strained, barely warmed up. I wondered, rather nervously for a moment, if she had become a glass of leftover wine. But in no time she began to open her heart and speak from her innocence. Her voice warmed and she took us on her deepening journey into new songs of love and innocence.
Like a shaman, in sweet playfulness, she reminded us that we are all beings who are going to die. She laughed and said, “Look, I wouldn’t have designed it that way, but it’s how it is.”
She appreciated the sweetness of youth, but valued our evolving selves in maturity as well. I was reminded of my blog on sexual maturity as she spoke, each stage of life offering its own unique fulfillments, if we can allow ourselves to enjoy each and every moment of the ride.
Standing transfixed on the stage, gazing off into another dimension, she sang about angels watching over us. Her husband of 45 years, who had recently died had left a note in their hotel room, addressed to her and her son, letting them know that “Angels are always with you.” And then he dropped Melanie off at Whole Foods in Framingham MA while he went off to Best Buy, something about his cell phone, telling her he would pick her up later, but he never returned. She turned his final communication into a song and when she sang it, he was there, watching over us.
And then the Tao of Melanie truly revealed itself in Smile. She spoke and sang in vintage form of the power of the smile; so simple, so down to earth, so practical, so available to everyone. Change the self, change the world, in this moment, by stalking a smile. SMILE! :)
She spoke of Amma, the Hugging Saint of India, soon herself to come to the Bearsville Theatre. For years she’s resisted “getting the hug.” Perhaps out of shyness or doubt, but finally she got “the hug.” And she was blown away! “That woman is connected to the source,” she said. “Get the hug! Get the hug!” And with that, I determined to get the hug.
After the concert I stalked being a fan. I’ve never waited for an autograph, but there we were, on line.
Before the concert had started, I had purchased her new CD. As I waited on line after the concert, I thought, “No, all my Melanie albums are on LP, vinyl, and frankly that’s how I most enjoy listening to music.” So, I cashed in my CD for her limited-edition, purple, tie-dyed LP for $50—the realization of a lifelong dream for Melanie, as she had always wanted to have an album that was a color other than black. Now I shared the dream and became the proud owner of one of the 300 limited-edition, purple, tie-dyed LPs!
As she signed the LP, Jan commented to her, “You’re not so shy anymore.”
“Well, not on stage,” she replied, “but in my personal life I still am.”
And then I told her I didn’t have my camera to get a picture with her, but asked, “Could I give you a hug?” She hesitated only briefly and then said, “Sure.” And with that, I got the hug!
That woman is connected to the source!
NOTE: The new purple tie-dyed album Ever Since You Never Heard of Me is only available through Melanie’s website or at her concerts. The CD is available through iTunes and there are a few songs not on the LP and vice versa, so they are different, the CD cut in 2010 the LP 2012. Here is a link to her website. Also listen to Melanie sing Smile with her fans in this fun YouTube video in the Netherlands.