Man, you ought to see her fly…


It’s no surprise; it’s here. The eyeballs burning behind the eyelids, the heat originating under the tongue to singe the roof of the mouth, the aches in the joints, neck and chest. All it took was a catalyst, an emotionally charged moment that launched a day’s worth of introspection, to break down the final defenses that had been keeping the bug at bay. With the bug comes all the freed emotions that eventually led me back to a profound memory. Get comfortable. It’s going to take awhile to tell…

“The Big Fish in the Small Pond” is the title he gave himself, though for the most part, while we played, the inflated sense of self melted away to expose that he really was an exceptionally talented lead guitarist. But, this night, we had an audience of musicians and all the fluff and struts came back out in force. He strutted away for the first tune of the third set, a tune the bass player sang, something fast and superficial and fun.

The visiting musicians hovered together in the illumination of the entranceway into the large, smoky, packed barroom. I didn’t know them, but it was easy to tell they were the visiting band. Their hair was long, jeans too tight, voices too loud in a too loud room. They were the “popular” band around town, and they stopped in to see us on their night off. Oh, the guitarist had on his strut. I knew what he was thinking: They may be popular, but we’re the band playing every night.

The inflated egos screamed of testosterone and irked me. Big Fish may have all the latest equipment, may smoke every other player in town hands down, but it was the band, all of us, that gave him the opportunity to shine. It was my turn to sing, and I know I had that “look” in my eye. I scanned the room. Those that had packed onto the dance floor were filing off. The bartenders were running back and forth fetching orders, the tables were packed with people in their own little worlds. “Broken Wing” was my choice.

The intro was signature and recognizable, and the couples that had danced grabbed hands and headed back to the dance floor. Starting big, the music softened for the first verse:
She loved him like he was, the last man on Earth,
Gave him everything she ever had
He’d break her spirit down, then come runnin’ back for more
Give a little, then take it back
I sang it quiet, soulfully, from deep within. I no longer saw what my eyes were seeing, nor could I feel my arms and legs. What was “me” stepped aside to allow the powerful flow of the song run unrestricted and free.
She’d tell him ‘bout her dreams, he’d just shoot ‘em down
Lord, he loved to make her cry
”You’re crazy for believing, you’d ever leave the ground,”
Said, “only angels know how to fly”
I was singing my heart out. I had a love like that, my last one. He was The One, he knew it, I knew it, but we never came together all the way. We spent 3 years in a sort-of limbo instead; loving, yearning, losing, loving some more. Once, he told me, “You are so beautiful,” and that one sentence meant more to me than anything anyone had ever said. Another time he said, “You are the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. What a breath of fresh air.” All this and so much more, and rarely but enough to scare the crap out of me, it would turn in a flash to become the most hurtful, painful I’d ever experienced. It’s that incredibly intense hurtfulness, as ugly and raw as the love was beautiful, that made me sigh in relief that the whole thing stayed in limbo. Years had already passed, leaving that incredible love behind, but nevertheless, it was what went into what I sang that night. All of it.
And with a broken wing, she’d still sing
She’d keep her eye on the sky
With a broken wing, she carries her dream
Man you ought to see her fly
And there it was. That was the key. Yes, that old love gave a lot, let me fly in so many ways, yet threatened to tear me down too. The key is a golden one, the key of fire. That fire is creativity, beauty, life, and that could never be taken away from me. That was a truth that had to flow with the energy pulsing through me as I sang. I had to put it out there, this truth, and let those who heard touch it and be touched, if they chose. Nothing meant more at that moment than singing that fire.
One Sunday morning, she didn’t go to church
He wondered why she didn’t leave
He went up to the bedroom, found a note by the window
With the curtains blowin’ in the breeze
I felt a breeze across my face, a soft, cool touch and realized a tear had rolled down my cheek. Please, oh please, don’t let anyone follow the girl in the song out the window. No, please don’t do that. That girl in the song found her wings by escaping life, but there was so much more to life to live, so many other ways!
And with a broken wing, she’d still sing
She keeps her eye on the sky
With a broken wing, she carries her dream
Man, you ought to see her fly
Yes, keep your eye on the sky! Look forward, look beyond and move on! Your wings are there – unfold them and fly!
With a broken wing, she carried her dream
Man, you ought to see her fly
The last note of the song held on and on, the band taking it with the ending chords. No more tears, only sweat now with hair sticking to my face as I held that last note out. The last notes retard to a final crash, and that rang out to die on its own.

The last note faded to silence, complete silence. It was odd. I looked up to see every face in the bar looking at me. The bartenders stood still, looking. The dance floor was packed shoulder to shoulder under faces all looking. It was so quiet, so still! I had been out of breath holding out that last note, and now the stillness came rushing in to replace the power, the glow of that incredible song. I was holding my breath.

The moment seemed to go on forever. It was such a still silence, so completely quiet in a bar filled with hundreds of people. I saw a hand reach up on the dance floor. It was a girl that reached up to wipe her cheek. Was she crying?

Then, suddenly, the place erupted into applause, whistles, screams, and it went on and on and on. I realized then that the song had touched everyone in the place. Everyone. The clapping was deafening, and went on and on and on. It came through me to everyone, and they felt it. They could fly. Everyone could fly.

The lead singer of the visiting band brushed past me to grab a microphone out of a stand. He goaded the audience into more applause by sweeping his hand around to us.

“Man, I can’t follow that!” he said to the guitarist.

Big Fish just smiled. He knew, just like we all knew: It’s not a matter of following. It’s a matter of taking off to fly on your own.
blog comments powered by Disqus