So I posted this article on my other blog. (Yes, I have another blog that isn’t all about hooping.) So, I originally posted this blog on www.jilljamison.wordpress.com, but I have been constantly moving to this music, so I decided to make a new video…So please enjoy a new video at the bottom of this blog article. I am hooping to a Tift Merritt song. Enjoy….
I Almost Didn’t Go.
Today, I was enamored. Maybe that’s the right word for what I felt. I was overjoyed, amazed, awed. Maybe those are the emotions that ran through my body, that caused me to breathe faster, caused my heartbeat to race and my palms to sweat. I tapped into something that was like nothing I have ever felt. Is this what love feels like? Or was it just a mix of emotions that grew too big for my body?
The first time I saw Tift Merritt perform I had no idea who she was. She was playing in Cincinnati at the Tall Stacks Festival on the Ohio River. That was in 2006. My friend and boyfriend both said, “Oh you don’t know Tift Merritt? I think you will really like her.” And I did. I hung on every single note that came out of that small girl’s mouth. I was awed then. I am truly amazed by people who know their talent, who embrace their gifts. That night, I saw a beautiful woman on stage. She knew she was good. She moved with affirmation. Not a cockiness, a confidence and that is the definition of beauty to me.
So since that day Tift has somehow been with me. She goes on every single mix-tape I make (and by the way the first song on her latest album is called Mixtapes), she’s always in my car, always on my IPOD, always on my “current” playlist, and she comes with me on bike rides, to the grocery store, on my break at work, she’s with me when I eat dinner, or when I workout… you get it. I dig this woman’s music.
I had heard that she was going to be in town playing at a record store. I almost didn’t go. I almost decided to stay and start crossing things off my to-do list, but I knew if I didn’t go, I would have been bitter. So I got on my bike and headed to Music Millennium where I knew she was giving a free in-store performance.
The record store itself is very Portland cool. It is hip and rustic at the same time. There are bi-levels, stairs, crammed aisles, dead-ends, different rooms, stacks upon stacks upon stacks of music. Above it all on a balcony overlooking the CD’s, the vinyls, and the twenty or so people lining the wall looking up, was Tift Merrit.
This was the third time I have watched her play. In the past, I have seen the whole show, but this time it was just her and her guitar, her harmonica and her voice. She was beautiful, confident, awesome. The way even her body moved, I just could tell she had it. She seemed centered, balanced and made me feel so inspired. I was very moved. I have no better words to describe it.
I felt like I was dreaming as I filed into line to get something autographed (which I never knew I would want an autograph.) As I stood in line I was amazed at my own reaction. I was nervous. I think I have only one other time in my life been so nervous. (I have met Wynonna Judd, she also amazes me.) As I stood there almost embarrassed at my childlike amazement, I tried to soak it in. I stood in line and watched her say hello to her fans and I was freaked out. Thoughts raced into my head, “What am I going to say? What am I going to say? Oh my god, get a grip Jill. Oh my god what the heck is going on with my body.” And I realized then wow, how beautiful it was for her. When it was my turn I said this,
“Does it make you feel really great that I am so nervous to meet you,” I finally said.
She kind of tilted her head, “What?”
“I mean, I think you are really amazing and it makes me nervous. I mean that has to be pretty great.”
She touched my hands (which I was really self-conscious about because they were really sweaty). “That is a beautiful thing to say, but I don’t want you to be nervous,” she told me. “I want you to be as comfortable as possible.”
“I am not a nervous person,” I said. “The only other time I have been this nervous was when I met Wynonna Judd,” I told her laughing with a weird nervous noise.
“Yeah, you know one time when I was in the grocery store I saw Amy Sedaris and was like, ‘uh, uh…’”
“Right, so you know how I feel.”
“I didn’t even know what to say to her,” she said.
“Yeah, do you know how long I was standing in that line thinking about what I should say to you?”
“Well, you said the perfect thing.”
And I got all flustered and said “okay bye,” and ran out the door. Well, not really a run at all more like a nervous shuffle. My body was shaking. What the hell? I was laughing a little crazy-like. I pulled out my phone and called my boyfriend and I could barely dial the number because my hands were so unsteady. He didn’t answer so I continued to go down my entire phone book. I started with the girl who introduced me to Tift’s music and ran down my entire contact list until I had successfully told the story enough times. I sat in a park and called my friends and begged for someone to just listen to me for a second. I had to marvel in my amazement.
It must feel amazing to know that your art makes someone’s entire being feel. That I was moved to a point where my entire physical body was affected. Isn’t that why we are artists in the first place? Tapping into the gifts and talents and sharing them in hopes that it touches a person and moves them in a way they have not yet been moved. It was a beautiful, beautiful day.
And I almost didn’t go.