One for the money, four on the floor
You were born last week with your foot in the door
I heard truth is what songs are for
Nobody gives a damn about songs anymore
– John Moreland, “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore”
Putting on house shows isn’t the easiest hobby out there. Each show takes months of planning, capped off by a 24-hour flurry of activity that involves deep cleaning, communicating with guests, rearranging half a house worth of furniture, and making a third trip to the store because you’re afraid you don’t have enough beer. For last night’s show with John Moreland, there were a few extra obstacles, like traffic outside of St. Louis and the last-minute discovery that neither of us had a microphone. As a result, sound check happened at the same time guests were arriving, and despite their game assistance (thanks, Parker!), we still weren’t able to get the PA running right. As I introduced John and sat down for the (now totally unplugged) show, I was in a place I’ve been in before: so frazzled by the process that I wasn’t sure I could enjoy the result.
But then it happened, like it always does. The room fell totally silent except for one voice, one guitar. I’d forgotten to give my customary spiel about putting phones away, yet there wasn’t a blue glow to be seen. Everyone was too enthralled with what was happening in that space to focus on anything outside of it. And about four songs in, overtaken by the power of John’s words and the vulnerability of his performance, I began to tear up. When he took a brief break to re-tune, I thanked everyone for being so attentive and respectful, and John quietly added, “I like that, too.”
There are a lot of ways to enjoy live music, and I’ve happily taken part in all of them, but house shows are my favorite because of moments like these. The closeness and connection to the art and the artist is a palpable thing that everyone in the room can feel. John had never played Memphis before – when he asked our buddy Cory Branan where he should play in Memphis, Cory told him “Little Rock” – but in one night, we showed that Memphis will always welcome him. As guests gathered on the porch to visit with John after the show, every moment it took to make the night happen was worth it.
Thanks for coming, John. Hope we see you again soon.
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