“The Heart That’s Telling The Whole Truth”

“Feel the storm come
Wild winds, tearing down through
When the sky drums
Banging all around you
That’s the heart that’s telling the whole truth
Can I listen to it”

     – Melissa Greener, “Everybody Wants Some”

 

I accept that it’s sort of a strange thing we do here. Although you can trace the history of folks gathering together in homes to listen to music back to Beethoven’s salon days and before, it’s no longer the way most people experience live performances. So I still consider it a minor miracle every time a group of mostly strangers shows up at the door to hear someone they have, in most instances, never seen before. No less surprising is the willingness of professional artists to come hang out for a night in a random dining room. Combining those two unexpected actions and getting a result that feels like everything came together just right? Well, that’s a little bit of magic, and that’s the best way to describe Melissa Greener’s visit.

 

Those few minutes it usually takes me to feel comfortable with a new person (okay, fine, few hours) melted down into about 30 seconds after Melissa arrived, and our audience clearly felt the same – her kind, open energy just washes through a room. Although her songs tend to travel some dark roads, she balances the mood with her honesty, humility, and the sheer beauty of her sound. Between songs and sets, she told stories and interacted with guests like new friends, welcoming everyone into the worlds she inhabits and revealing insecurities without shaking our confidence in her.

 

Melissa’s first set began with more established work, but as we all settled in, she entrusted us with her newer, less road-tested songs – not that we’d have known the difference; they all reflect the same talent, heart, and unique perspective. The second set kicked off with her take on the Beatles’ “If I Fell,” David Rodriguez’s “The Snow Leopard and the Tanqueray Cowboy,” and Jesse Winchester’s “That’s What Makes You Strong,” all of which let her own light shine, and then moved into her collaborations with Guy Clark and Sally Barris. It’s easy to see why Melissa’s a coveted co-writer; her generosity of spirit billows like the sails she chased around Nova Scotia.

 

As Melissa recounted her many adventures, I reflected on our similarities and differences – we’re both native Midwesterners and peers in age, but the wanderlust that has guided her last 20 years is strikingly different from my constant quest for domestic calm. Yet through the clarity and compassion of her work, I could relate to the restless souls and disquieted travelers who populate her tales, and based on the awestruck reactions of our wide range of guests, I wasn’t alone. And really, that’s why we’re all doing this crazy, magic thing.