When I was a young girl back in the 70’s, I always knew my mom was about to do a big clean of the house. She’d disappear into the sunroom and I’d hear her fiddling around in there. Pulling out that beloved album and placing it carefully on the turn table. She’d turn up the volume and soon I’d hear the wonderful sounds of Maria Muldaur coming through the speakers.
The album was so worn, you could hear the clicks and static from the scratches coming through alongside her voice but I didn’t mind. It was a sign of good use…of music that filled our soul and made us smile and want to sing along. When cassettes came along and began to gain popularity, my mom recorded that album onto a cassette. You could still hear those grooves in the vinyl but we didn’t mind.
I loved those songs as much as my mom did. It always seemed to put her in a good mood…maybe that’s what I loved most…either way, Maria Muldaur has held a special place in my heart for many many years…almost 40 of them. To this day, I can be found listening to that album, now in a digital format, minus the worn out sounds. It always makes me smile and I can’t help but move along with the music.
Imagine my excitement when I heard she’d be coming to town. My hubby said he really didn’t want to go and that was okay. My mom…busy with a big project and not able to go and that was okay too. I decided to make this a night about me and go alone. To enjoy the experience fully from only my perspective.
I bought my ticket and couldn’t wait for the big night. I envisioned sharing here after the show…the great blog post I’d write about my awesome experience. I’d share about my childhood memories and how being at this event brought me right back to that place again as a small child, watching my mom dance around the house to her music.
I left before the show finished and cried when I got home. I’m not sure if the only issue was that she was sick and I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt because she was clearly sick and shouldn’t have been allowed to perform but I’m just not sure that’s all it was. Her voice was a mess because of her cold…she could barely talk, let alone sing. While a few people could be seen singing along and moving to the beat, most seemed to sit in awkward, polite silence with uncomfortable expressions on their faces. She started late, came out confused, yelled and pointed at two people during the show for taking pictures (which were allowed as long as flash wasn’t used according to the intro given before the show but she had other ideas), made some rude comments to her musicians about not starting a song in a timely manner, kept saying stuff in to the mic about the sound system and it was all more than I could handle.
That idol I admired for 40 years…that woman I had put on a pedestal as one of America’s greatest folk singers and an amazing woman to boot (after all, she was all about love and happiness and other hippie stuff so she had to be awesome, right?!)…in less than 30 minutes, she’d fallen off that pedestal and I was out the door trying to hold back my tears.
Part of me is sad that I’m not able to share an amazing story here about what it was like to be a few feet away from someone I have loved for most of my life and part of me realizes there is a different story here. At the end of the day, she is simply a woman…a human…no more than and no less than I. We have bad days, bad experiences, aren’t always on our game, and most of us never asked to be put on a pedestal…no one belongs on one of these…it’s too easy to get knocked off in the blink of an eye.
I’m still processing all of this…I’m really not sure how I feel because there are so many layers to it. She was sick. She’s also 72 years old. I felt like I knew here because I’d spent so much time with “her” in my living room but I realize I really didn’t know her. My expectations were so high, I’m not sure she could have lived up to them – not fair to anyone. The shame I felt as I saw her up on stage belittling and shaming others for what she perceived to be inappropriate actions on their part. It wasn’t directed at me and, yet, it might as well have been. The shame I also felt when the guy at the table next to me started quietly saying “cuckoo” “cuckoo” over and over again when she was scolding someone.
It is a great reminder to be in the moment and take something for what it is rather than what we want it to be. It’s a great reminder to stay present enough to know when something isn’t my shit and I don’t need to take it on. It’s a great reminder that things aren’t always what they seem and that’s simply how life works.
Side note: I did contact the venue and they realized she was too sick to perform once she started but didn’t want to embarrass her by stopping the show. I can completely understand the predicament that would create. All those who attended will be getting tickets to another show at the venue for compensation. I love it when venues realize there was a problem and so willingly resolve it in a timely manner.
Update as of January 31st, 2016: Unfortunately, the Dakota chose not to honor the commitment they made for a free ticket to another show. I attempted to do a chargeback but, since the performance actually took place, it wasn’t eligible. However, my bank split it with me and refunded half – just because they rock and could. It’s nice to know there are ethical businesses out there!