It’s been well-documented on this site that I. LOVE. STEVIE. WONDER. So when BFF Jenny texted me last week to tell me she got $45 tickets to see him on Groupon in Knoxville, TN (she lives in Chattanooga), I have to admit, I was a little jelly.
But then, sometimes: Jesus.
I got a call from my college agent yesterday and she told me that University of Tennessee Knoxville wanted to book me for a show next month. Because I knew it was not far from BFF Jenny, I texted her this morning to let her know. If I was gonna be within an hour or two of her house, I was definitely gonna stop by. I had no idea when the Stevie concert was.
Turns out the concert is the day after my show and her husband wasn’t gonna be able to come and she hadn’t asked anyone else if they wanted to go yet… And HOORAY! I get to see Stevie with my bestie and get paid.
Yesterday was my birthday! I turned 33. Which no matter how you look at it is better than the alternative. I’ve been on the road for about a week and half now so I spent the first part of my birthday in NYC and the second part in Hazelton, PA. I had a show in NYC on Wednesday nite and I was staying with my BFF Loren who lives in the city. It was sleeting and gross outside and I had to trek all the way across town and back in it. I hadn’t eaten anything all day so on the way back to her place after the show I stopped at the pizzeria on her corner to get a sandwich. The guy in line in front of me was buying desserts and I said I deserved a piece of chocolate cake too because it was my birthday. So the cashier gave it to me for free. SCORE! Who says New Yorkers aren’t nice?
I got back to Loren’s at about 11, jumped into my PJs and crashed on the couch. But at midnite she cued up Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” and we danced around the apartment til the song went off. Then she put a tealight on top of my cake and told me to make a wish! Pretty cool start to a birthday…
Yesterday afternoon I got up and drove to PA for a college show. After spending all afternoon on the road and then going straight to my show, I decided to find the nearest Applebees — there’s always an Applebee’s — and have a few birthday drinks. I ended up sitting at the bar where there was a great bartender named Nicole. We chatted for a bit and then a few minutes later this really nice guy named Brandon comes in and sits down next to me. The three of us ended up talking for hours about family, pets, our favorite books, and eventually our jobs…
Turns out Brandon is an amateur MMA cage fighter. Brandon “The Mixed Breed” Cruz. In the video below, he’s the one in the white shorts.
It was so cool talking to him about what it takes to make it in his industry. There were some similarities between his hustle to advance as a fighter and mine as a comic, but at least I don’t get pounded in the face on my bad days. For years I did (and often still do) comedy for no money. But I can’t imagine going thru something like this and there not being a check on the other end. Man that takes some serious dedication. And also some serious guts. If the test of how much we all wanted to achieve our goals was measured by our willingness to be pummeled inside a locked cage, I think we’d all — yes you too — look like quitters.
All in all I had a pretty good birthday.When I had a day job, I never worked on my birthday. In fact my co-workers used to laugh at me because I’d say it in the third person: “Erin doesn’t work on her birthday.” But now that I don’t get paid for my days off, working is the best kind of birthday gift I can give myself — the gift of mortgage. Hahaha.
Stevie Wonder singing Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song.’ I figured that having my favorite artist salute my other favorite artist (they’re tied for my affections) by covering one of his most important songs was a fitting way to honor his memory. Had he lived to see today, Bob Marley would have been 65 years old.
I remember how excited I was when I first bought this CD: Song Review: Greatest Hits and heard this remake. It’s at the very end of the second CD and it’s just perfect — the perfect way to do a remake. Because I believe that if you’re going to bother, you should take the song and make it your own somehow. What’s the point in singing someone’s song exactly how they did it? This is so rich and one of best remakes of a classic of ALL TIME — though I’m admittedly biased. :)
That’s what I call Stevie Wonder… because you can make up silly names for people when you’re best friends like I am with Stevie.
Anyway, last weekend when I was in NY, I had some time to kill and I dropped by this bar in the financial district — I think the name of the bar was “Bar & Food”. At least that’s what the sign said on the outside… :) When I got in there, there was a nice little crowd at the bar and the music on the jukebox was great. As each new song came on, the older bartender guy took a lotta pride in letting everyone know that he’s the one who selected the songs… in a particular order for a particular reason. I remember hearing “Always and Forever” by Heatwave and “Johnny Was” by Bob Marley. Not sure what the narrative was supposed to be as the former is a love song and the latter is a song about a woman whose son was just shot dead in the street… But I digress… The last song that came on while I was still in the bar was one of my favorite Wevie songs ever ever. Joy Inside My Tears… Man I hadn’t heard that song in literally over a decade.
So I sang.
In full voice.
And people stared — no doubt in disbelief at my non-embarrassment . But I didn’t care. Jack wouldn’t let me care… Cause it’s a great song! Six and a half minutes of ear yummies… I loaded it on to my iPod last nite and I’ve been listening to it on repeat for the past 33 minutes. Songs in the Key of Life. If you don’t have it. Get it. Today. Cause when music hits you “there” there’s nothing better.
When I was a kid, in the house we lived in in Jersey, my Dad built these wooden bins along the walls and floorboards in the downstairs of the house. And they were filled with records separated by alphabet tabs and by genre. You could sit in the family room and literally be surrounded by music. I remember my dad putting on a record and asking, “Who’s that, Boont?” And I’d be like Count Basie or Coltrane… And sometimes he’d let me pick one and he’d play it. No matter what it was. My love for music–GOOD music–goes back as long as I can remember. And I thank my parents for it.
My Grandma used to call me the “Disco Baby” and Saturday mornings growing up meant Mom and Dad dancing to 45’s and Felix Hernandez on the Rhythm Revue on WBGO Jazz 88 in NYC. I miss those days. Not that there isn’t any good music around anymore. But it sure is getting harder and harder to find.