Last year I went to play at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. I was all excited to have the opportunity to play in Nashville cause I know a lot of great musicians play there and that kinda made me feel like I was great too. Well, the Bluebird Cafe had experienced some fire damage the night before when some guy with a purple mohawk tried to make his guitar do something it did not want to do and it exploded and caught his hair on fire and burned up half the stage.
So, when I got there they were herding all us players and singers and just plain ole listeners over to the local grammar school and into the school auditorium. I was first up on the evening docket and so I climbed up on the stage there at the grammar school just a little nervous since I am a shy, sensitive person.
I decided to start off with a little story to warm up the crowd and so I did since I was thinkin I would and it was goin really smooth and I was about half way through my story when this guy in the back stood up and said, “Ah man, I didn’t come out to hear a story, I came out to hear songs.” That’s what he said and it kinda hurt my feelings since I am really a shy, sensitive person. But I decided to ignore him and continue with my story cause that’s what I was planning on doing.
I started off again by telling everybody that I had an almost true story that I’d like to share and the same guy came out of his chair again and kinda went ballistic and said, “Man, what are you talking about. What’s an almost true story? I mean, I want a story to either be true or not and if it’s something in between then I’d like to know where the true part meets up with the lies. It’s like if I go home to my girl and start telling some story I don’t want to be made a fool of when my girl asks if this really happened!”
Well, being a shy, sensitive person this really upset me and even though I was having a hard time ignoring this guy I decided to plow forward and start my story again. And I did since that’s what I was planning on doing and since I am a shy, sensitive person I felt most comfortable doing that. So, I began again by saying I’d like to share a story that’s not quite a lie and the same guy was out of his seat again. He said, “Man, what’s a ‘not quite a lie’? That sounds a lot like a story that’s almost true. Man, you’re messin with me and I don’t like being messed with! Can’t you just tell the truth man?”
I responded by telling him that I couldn’t decipher from my story which part was true and which part was false because I hadn’t been there when it happened. Well, this really upset the guy in the back and he said, “If you weren’t there when it happened, then how do you know that anything you are saying is true?”
So, I went on to explain to him that since I wasn’t there when it happened I couldn’t be sure that it didn’t happen and so that is why my story is a story that is almost true or not quite a lie whichever version he’d like to hear. He then got really upset and said he didn’t want to hear either version he had just come to hear some music.
Well, by now I was getting pretty upset myself, being a shy, sensitive person and so I just asked the guy why he had paid to come see me if he didn’t want to hear my story. Well this sent the guy in the back into orbit and he was jumping around and saying stuff under his breath that I can’t say here and then he blurted out, “Man, you know this ain’t no paying gig! I got in here for free. You know it didn’t cost me nothing.” And so, being a shy, sensitive person I just gave him a loving glare and said to him,”Well, what’s your problem, man? You got your money’s worth!”
Well, this kinda shut up the guy in the back, but by now my being a shy, sensitive person, I was wondering if I would even be able to sing my first song since I had been so insulted being shy and sensitive and all and I was kinda nervous but I decided I would try it.
So I asked if anyone would like to hear a song and some girl on the front row said she would and me being a shy sensitive person, this kinda hurt me cause I knew what she was really saying was she didn’t like my story. And this really cut me deep. I mean all the way to the bone. I mean marrow aching, to the bone kinda deep.
And so I just asked her why she didn’t like my story. I don’t think she heard me though because she just grinned at me so I decided to forget the whole thing and just sing my first song anyway.
So I sang my first song cause that is what I decided to do and it was one of those sensitive songs that a shy, sensitive person might sing. And when I got all through singing it I noticed that the girl in the front row was crying. Well, I wasn’t sure why she was crying so I asked her why she was crying and this made her cry even more because obviously she was a shy, sensitive person like me and being called out about crying upset her real bad.
But, even though she was obviously shaken, being shy and sensitive, she did respond to my question. She proceeded to answer me in a soft, melancholy voice, “That song was so tender and sweet, and it just really touched me after you told that goofy story.” Well that was the only siginificant thing I heard. When she said goofy story I was torn up and I confronted her right then and there, on the spot, at that moment and asked her what was goofy about my story. She said she didn’t mean to be rude but the song was so special and touching it just didn’t seem to be a good preamble to tell such a goofy story first.
By now, since I am shy and sensitive, I am starting to cry too and the tears were rolling out of the corners of my eyes and I am trying to catch them with my fingers and my fingers are dripping tears all over the floor and it is getting kinda slippery and I’m afraid I might fall if I do too much moving around so, I am trying to stay as still as possible.
So we’re both crying a lot and it is getting real wet up here on the stage and it is getting real wet on the floor too by the girl in the front row and all the other folks that came out to hear a little music are starting to get a little teary-eyed too watching two shy sensitive people crying all over the floor and everything.
I decided it might be a good time to sing another song and try to get myself out of this soggy mess and so I did and everything was going real good too until the guy in the back, yea, I mean the same guy in the back that accused me of messing with him because I told a short story before my first song cause I decided I would, well that same guy stood up again and said, “Hey man, why don’t you tell another story?”
Well this really cut me deep, being a shy sensitive person knowing that he obviously didn’t like my song, so, I decided to confront him right then and there on the spot so I took a step forward to get closer to the mic in order to add power to my rebuke and when I did, I tripped over the microphone cord.
I told you how slippery it had gotten up here with all those tears coming out of the corner of my eyes and everything. Well, I tripped on the cord and went flying off the stage. Me and my Martin guitar were airborne like no Ranger has ever experienced. And when I landed I found myself slap dab in the middle of the lap of that poor woman in the front row. You know, the crying woman who is a shy, sensitive person like me, so now there are two shy, sensitive people and my Martin guitar, all occupying the same space in the auditorium of the local grammar school.
I quickly discovered that when I landed, the sixth string on my guitar snapped. I mean it snapped in two. Now I’ve never broken a sixth string before. I don’t even know of anyone that has ever broken a sixth string before and for a guy that plays non-paying gigs this was a serious matter. I mean strings cost money and for a musician doing non-paying gigs, money is hard to come by. I keep one extra string with me in my guitar case and that is a fourth string cause that is the string you’re supposed to break. But nobody breaks a sixth string. A sixth string should last for years. I mean it loses a little something after the first six months or so and I have to clean off the green moldy gunk every so often but you don’t break a sixth string.
I wasn’t really sure of the significance of breaking a sixth string but I was quite sure it wasn’t good. And while I was agonizing over the loss of my sixth string, the owner of the Bluebird cafe came over to untangle me and my Martin guitar, with the broken sixth string, from the shy, sensitive woman in the front row who is now crying profusely.
After careful examination from all parties including the security guard, who has now gotten involved, it is discovered that she, the girl in the front row, the shy, sensitive one is found to be suffering from a severely bruised ego and is threatening to sue something or someone, depending on who has got the most money. And since I’m the one in the closest proximity to her, the threats seemed to be primarily aimed at me or at least someone who looks a lot like me.
Well, the security guard decided that someone needed to be arrested and since no one else was volunteering, he figured I would do so he proceeded to arrest me and charge me with assault and battery. Now I’ve never been arrested for assault and battery but the security guard assured me that that was not a problem and he proceeded to handcuff me and impound my guitar along with what was left of the broken sixth string.
The security guard was nice enough to call one of his patrol buddies who was in turn nice enough to offer me a ride to the station where they held me for questioning and after a very special meet and greet time, they suggested that I sign a dozen or so documents in triplicate and decided to release me to my own recognizance. And since I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, I agreed to the arrangement without misgivings and headed home.
Well, I got home just before the sun came up and just as I was about to doze off to sleep, the doorbell rang. I figured since I hadn’t had any sleep all night, that there would be no harm in putting it off a little longer and so I climbed out of bed to answer the door. By now someone was rapping on the door refusing to wait for the doorbell to do it’s job and my being a shy, sensitive person this kinda upset me and so when I opened the door I was not my usual cordial self.
I swung open the door and I could not believe my eyes. There on my front stoop was the guy in the back at the Bluebird Cafe. You know, the guy that accused me of messing with him because I told a little story before my first song. Well, the guy is holding something in his hand and he reaches out and hands it to me and says, “Man, I brought you something.”
So I took it from his hand and unwrapped the tattered packaging and inside was a Martin guitar string. You know, the big fat wound one that occupies the sixth spot on the guitar. Before I could respond he spoke up and said, “I’m sorry man, I couldn’t afford a new string but this one is almost like new. I put it on my guitar about six months ago.”
Well, I took one look at that old string that appeared to be deader than an egyptian mummy and just smiled at the guy. I was back in business, for at least a couple of years or so.
Well…you know that guy…that one that accused me of messing with him cause I told a story that wasn’t quite true before my first song…well… that guys name is Todd Johnson and last week, he was the best man at my wedding. You know, I discovered something, he is really just a shy, sensitive person.
Oh, and by the way, for a wedding gift, he bought me a brand-spanking new set of Martin guitar strings…I mean with the mint luster and everything and it made me cry like a baby. I guess that’s just the way it goes when you’re a shy, sensitive person.