Oh, my gosh. Oh, my GOODNESS. Oh, holy crap!!!!
I shook hands with….RHIANNON GIDDENS!!!!!
The woman is a musical genius. A musical prodigy. A gorgeous, smart, articulate musical freakin’ genius.
And when you see her (as I’ve done at least ten times in the past two years), she sweeps you up in the beauty and power of her songs.
What can I say?
I’m a fan girl. Big time.
So last weekend when Paul and I saw Rhiannon and her equally genius partner, Francesco Turrisi, we were completely overwhelmed with the music, the rhythms the lessons, the words, the whole damn thing.
I was, shall we say, swooning by the end of the set.
So an hour after the set, when I made my way down the row of foodtrucks for a snack, I was giddy with delight to see Rhiannon and Francesco in line in front of me.
“Leave them alone,” I told myself in my head. “They are tired and hungry. Let them order the tuna riceballs without being interrupted.” My rational self told me to behave. It told me to let these two nice people eat supper in peace.
But my emotional self just had to step in. I HAD to!
“When will you ever get a chance like this again,” emotional me demanded.
What could I say? Emotional me won the round, fair and square.
I stepped forward to approach my idols.
“Excuse me,” I probably squeaked, “I just had to tell you how much your music means to me and how grateful I am to hear it!”
My two music heroes smiled graciously, shook my hand, let them chat for a minute with them about their multinational sound, the drums from around the world that they use, the message they are sending.
I was quick. I was brief. I apologized for interrupting and I let them order their meals. I was silent as I watched her walk away to get some pierogis while he waited for the rice balls.
I thought I was fine. Well behaved.
But you know what?
Even though that was the highlight of my
weekend, week, month, musical life, I am slightly abashed at having done it.
Don’t get me wrong! When I saw Ms. Giddens on the Today Show the morning after our chat, all I could think was “I shook that hand! I talked to her! I made her laugh!” I felt like I had somehow shared the glory with her; as if our 45 second conversation would be etched in her mind.
I felt special.
And that is the secret of fame, I think. The secret is to make the people who bump into you feel brushed by the glittery sparkles of your fame.
That probably works for big huge Hollywood types.
But it can’t be so simple when all you want out of life at that moment is a tuna rice ball and a jalapeno pierogi.
I find myself in an interesting spot in terms of fandom and musicians. While Paul and I revel in our short interactions with the musicians we admire, I also resent people who do the same thing.
That’s because our future daughter-in-law sings in a band that is gaining more and more attention lately. We have gone to hear Upstate many times. It’s always really fun! But lately we have found our conversations with our sweet girl interrupted by strangers who want to tell her how much her music means to them and how grateful they are for it.
They ask her questions about where the group met, who writes the songs, and where they’ll appear next. Sometimes they ask if they can take a picture with her.
My daughter in law smiles graciously, poses for the pictures, shakes the hands. She never lets on that she was, um, ya know, in the middle of a conversation with her future parents-in-law.
You can see how conflicted I feel about this whole thing! Music is the universal language, it brings us all together. It expresses our deepest, most powerful feelings and thoughts.
The people who can create that music? Well, of course they are our heroes! Of course we want to rub against them, shake their talented hands, share a story or a joke or a smile with them.
We feel as if we’ve been pulled into their special circles when we do that. But.
We need to remember that they are people, and they have their own lives. Once they step off of those stages, methinks, we need to learn to leave them alone.
12 thoughts on “Life as a Fangirl.”
When I saw the title of your post I just knew since I knew you had been at the Green River Festival that it was going to be about Rhiannon Giddens because she is so amazing!
You’ve seen her, too! Isn’t she incredible?
Yes! I’ve been following her for years. If I saw her in person after a show I’d definitely say Hi and Thank You!
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I’m lucky I didn’t fall to my knees and kiss her feet……Do you also know Birds of Chicago? The singer, Alli Russell, has been working with Rhiannon on “Songs of our Native Daughters”. They are so amazing!!!! And RG sort of got them going in music.
Yes I like The Birds of Chicago too! It was our mutual love of them that led me to your blog! I have been watching videos of the Native Daughters project and hope to get to see them live. I also hope I get to see Rhiannon and Francesco Turrisi live. Their shows in Chicago this Fall are already sold out. We are on the waitlist for a show in Wisconsin so fingers crossed!
That’s so cool!! I don’t mean that you have to wait; I mean that you found me through BOC. Music is the link for all of us, isn’t it???
you are so lucky!
Best part is that my husband and cousins had waited around after her set and they got her to sign some items and they chatted with her. I was just about dying of jealousy….then I got my own chance!
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May have saved Paul’s life…..
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I agree with the points you make her Karen. I think my feeling is to consider the time & place in regards to whether to approach. Given that Rhiannon had just completed a festival & I am guessing was grabbing a bite on the grounds where they had just performed, I think it is natural for fans to politely approach as you did. Different story if she was sitting having dinner somewhere or on what I would call personal time with friends & family. In that case, I think you have to respect privacy. I suppose adoring fans come with the territory the more popular or famous you & your music become. Like so many things in life, balance is key!
Its just a funny place for me to find myself. While my daughter in law doesn’t object at all to having people talk with her (her band is called Upstate-they’re fabulous!), I object! I get annoyed and want to say, “Hey, she’s trying to relax!” But then I go up and do the same thing to other artists, LOL!
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