Every time I go to NYC I see people who inspire me. I watched a live radio broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor on Saturday, and once again was thrilled by the singers he brought on. One of the ladies, Nellie McKay, had a voice so perfect and controlled it was worth quieting yourself to marvel at its impossible and long-ringing clarity. And she came onto the stage with a bouncy blond ‘do’ and a golden skirt suit that sparkled for the holidays. She said she got it at a Salvation Army. She might have been a starving artist and she might have been someone who appreciates recycled clothes, but in either case she was someone who did not mind standing in front of hundreds of gawkers showing what she could do with her mind and her voice. She actually sang “I Only Have Eyes For You” slowly and pitch perfect, gloriously I’ll say, all the while her saxophonist squeaked into his microphone the most convincing sounds of a baby crying. This guy had it down perfectly and if I hadn’t been able to see him do it I’d have believed it was a live baby in Nellie’s arms. She moved around the stage as a mother would, invisible babe in arms, rocking and soothing as she sang, to no avail except to entertain us, while the baby wailed on. She had to keep her song going while the baby cried, and it was impressive on so many levels. That she would even taint her own gorgeous rendition of this song with a baby’s cries was one, but that she had the creative confidence to put it out there as a metaphor for all the beauty and art of life balanced against the realities of the world and the reason to even attempt art in the first place, was superb. I loved this lady and her delightful sensibilities and I wished for more and more.
I submitted this review of the show, well, the one song anyway, to Ticketmaster who posted it today on their website, however I was listed as Anonymous even though I used the name Jane Paffenbarger (what could be more clear?). I missed an opportunity I suppose when I met a show reviewer from the NYTimes just before the program began, who traded her fantastic seat for our back row gem to suit her druthers, and I might have given her my card and invited her to see MY review. I have yet to look hers up but maybe I will. Laura….