Thursday, June 26, 2008

Under Pressure

I've held a belief for most of my life that I work better under pressure. In order to truly put this theory to the test, I would have to compare the results from performing two similar, if not identical tasks under different circumstances, one at the last minute and the other having received more of my energies over a longer period of time. This will most likely never happen because I am a lifelong procrastinator.

A friend wanted me to sing at her wedding, and asked that I write a special song for the occasion. She gave me about six months advance notice, and would call once a month to see how the song was coming along. "Almost done," I'd say. "Just doing a little tweaking." The truth was, I had not even started the song because I had a little writer's block.

A few days before I needed to leave for Green Bay, Wisconsin to perform at the ceremony, I hopped in my car and started driving north, because I was desperate and remembered that I had started some of my best songs while driving. I was living in Nashville, TN at the time, and about an hour later, having crossed the state line into Kentucky, I got a few ideas and turned the car around. By the time I pulled into my driveway, the lyrics were done and I only needed to work it out on the guitar. Two days later I drove to Green Bay.

Annette's fiance met me in town, and I followed him back to their place. That night Annette's sisters and her friend Mary cornered me and demanded to hear the song. "We don't want to cry during the ceremony," they explained. "It will ruin our make-up." The song was about love, of course, but also mentioned loss, as Annette's mother had died recently from a sudden illness. Her fiance had also lost a parent, and the girls cried during that first performance, vowing to be strong during the ceremony.

The day of the wedding came, and the bride's sisters (Tina and Kim) and best friend Mary were dolled up in all of their chiffoned finery. I took my place near the bridesmaids, and during the appropriate time started fingerpicking the opening bars to the song. The girls were doing great, not a misty eye among them. Then I got to the verse about loss, and I heard Kim's urgent whisper to Tina.

"Look at Dad!"

We had forgotten to prepare the widower, and who could blame us? He looked to be more bear than man. He was a big guy, well over six feet tall, barrel chested, bearded, tough looking. He was also in tears. The bridesmaids lost it, and began to cry. There was also a catch in my voice, but I recovered and finished the song.

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