Something I'll never forget
Disclaimer: I had debated on writing this, as I lived the moment. I think about it often. I don’t need to remind myself, but maybe a fellow songwriter out there could find some meaning behind this post. If anything, I hope it speaks to those who may need to hear this. (I will also be leaving names out of this out of respect)
On this particular day, Brandon and I had arrived fairly early at the venue to set up and do a soundcheck. We were playing an acoustic show inside what has to be one of the coolest places I’ve had the pleasure of playing in. It was an old historical building with original wooden floors and a reverb that the highest quality studio couldn’t achieve. I was setting up the merch table in the back of the venue, attempting my best at making everything look nice, when an individual tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around curious, as there weren’t many of us in the building preparing for the evenings show. I was greeted by a man who had the look of so many emotions in his eyes. It was the craziest thing! I could feel the energy he was giving off. He looked tired, but ever so appreciative and excited to shake my hand while mentioning his name. He was soft spoken, but carried a strong presence in his stature.
After shaking hands and introducing ourselves, he mentioned how much he was looking forward to the show and he genuinely appreciated us being there to share our songs. “Heck” I told him, “I’m extremely grateful you’re here!” We both started chuckling. The conversation was becoming more relaxed as we got to know each other. He asked me questions about where I was from, if I had any relation to the town we were playing, and of course we talked about my BBQ sauce I had for sale. Come to find out he participated in bbq competitions years before and we talked about that.
Towards the middle of the conversation, he asked me if I had any CD’s for sale, as he was really wanting to buy one for his wife. As I grabbed a CD, he asked me if I could sign it. He began to mention that his wife was really wanting to come tonight but she wasn’t going to be able to make it. I told him remorsefully that I appreciated her continued support, and that I know we’d be back in the future, so maybe I’ll catch her next time. He sounded hopeful when he said “I know she would really like that.”
The gentleman’s voice began to carry a tone of emotion that could be compared to a soft summer rain on an old front porch. It was solid, heavy, but graceful in manor.
He said, “My wife is going through chemo right now. She’s not feeling very well or else she would be here tonight. That’s the reason she can’t come. She insisted that I come and listen to you for her.”
As I write this, I can still feel the anchor drop in my stomach. It’s a heavy feeling. Man, it’s so heavy. But it was nothing compared to what this man was feeling. If I’m being honest, my eyes started to water a little bit in front of him. It took just about all I had not to show this strong individual my tears in a time of hope for him and his wife.
He reached in his shirt pocket and started to offer a folded twenty dollar bill. I absolutely refused it. In no way would I have taken that man's money. He gave me her name and I wrote a personal note on the cover of the CD case, and handed it back to him. After I handed him the CD, I looked up to him as he said to me, “The song ‘Hayesville’. She just loves that song. We listen to it every day when we are on our way to her treatment. Sometimes we listen to it in the hospital on my phone. We both know every word. I believe she’s going to beat this. That song gives us hope because Hayesville is our town.”
I probably told that man how much I appreciated him and his wife a hundred times before he walked away. We closed our conversation and I walked towards the front of the stage. Brandon and I just looked at each other. I let out a sigh and plugged in my guitar. The room started filling up rather quickly. We played around 10-15 songs. That man sat in the back row and did not get out of his seat. He listened to every single song in full. It came time for the last song of the evening. I looked down at the bottom of the setlist to see “Hayesville” in font size 15, bold black lettering. As I was preparing to tell the story of how I wrote the song, all I could think about was that gentleman sitting in the back for his wife. How much that song means to them. That’s something I will never forget. I’d like to think he went home that evening and told his wife every second of it. Just so she didn’t miss a beat.
If you’re a songwriter out there, I encourage you to never
pursue your craft in the hopes of gaining financial success from it. Live from the heart and write from the soul. After all, they may be songs that you wrote, but they might mean so much more to someone else.