May 21, 2012
When Barney Sang, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 21
Sometimes frailty sneaks up on you. Professional photography and old album covers can do that to you. Take for instance, Barney McKenna. I was already sure his performance would become a highlight looked fondly upon in after-hours conversations and years from now. But, the presence was not the well imagined persona unfailingly snap-shot-ed into my personal picture-perfect, replayed and replayed rendition of how it would be. Shocked, shocking white hair wasn’t what I expected; neither was the snow white beard - ancient, and mariner worthy.
Emerging from side-shadows, walking stick in hand, yet still unsteady; paused stage edge. Sweeping eyes; swirling contemplation clearly required answering. In almost instant registration, assisting arms appeared. Jacketed by bodies respectfully reluctant to show doubt or engage in push and pull, climbing was slow. Careful navigation arrested an entire ballroom’s breath.
Only once positioned, determinedly settled, still seemingly precarious, one hand to the mic, with the other executed a treasure; a signature welcoming wave. A few more moments of readying hesitation, and violins took their cue. The obvious unspoken question hung achingly over hearts, so terribly afraid they were about to break.
Then, like fallen angels flittering forth, gently released from the soul, familiar notes pitched themselves perfectly. Concerned down-turned corners lifted into wide-eyed hesitant grins. That voice! With a slight warble of age, weakened but not forced, recognized yet richer, clear and clearly wiser from life’s experiences - the remarkable transformation from feeble to forceful was enthralling.
Innate hoarding rises, temporary protectors of time well spent, we knew we should catch these moments and hold onto them, so capture we did; with intense concentration using our minds as recorders and cameras. Not a muscle moved. We were holding our breath again - too amazed to even consider the consequences of impeding natural function.
In accorded silence, and so very certain - we agreed without doubt offering our non-used air to use as he would. For the simple truth of the moment was - the only one worthy of using it was Barney McKenna.
Posted by jaselin at May 21, 2012 09:50 PM