“Some days you get diamonds, some days nickels and dimes… .” A wise observation from one of my hero-musicians.
Hero-musician is not a term that I apply lightly; in fact, other than Bobby McFerrin, I didn’t think I had any. But watching Eric Bibb play in Calgary a while back, I realised that in fact, I have another.
It was a great show – Bibb plays with such pure joy and it is infectious. His voice is deep and rich and yet can be playful. And as I listened to him, I realised that I have carried his music and his music has carried me through so very much in the last ten years or so. In fact, once I started addressing it, I find that Eric Bibb and his music has influenced me greatly, not just as a musician, but in life.
A couple of years ago, I had the indescribable opportunity to climb the Via Ferata at Mount Nimbus. This experience was WAAAAY outside my comfort zone. I was terrified and knew that I would be facing some pretty steep fears (and steep drops) during that day. At each moment I had to push myself further, Bibb’s voice came in my head – “keep on when your mind says quit, dream on ’til you find you’re livin’ it”. It’s not my favourite Bibb song, but since then it has become one of the ones I turn to when I need that push.
And he does the best greatest most wonderful arrangement of “Wayfarin’ Stranger” you will ever hear.
So what’s my point?
The last time I saw him live, following the show, I got to speak briefly with Eric Bibb. In all the times I’ve seen him play, I’ve never spoken with him. I thanked him for his music and told him that it has been influential on my journey. I couldn’t say more than that because the words weren’t there – I didn’t want to be trite or sappy about such a profound realisation.
All these years, Eric Bibb has not known me, known my face, known all the times I’ve seen his shows or played his records. All these years he has been making this music that has affected me – always for the better – and he has known nothing of its impact on me, the individual Sue Chick Denton.
We all have that potential. We can’t all play like Eric Bibb. But in every day we have that chance to influence in ways we’ll never know about. I remember when I was in high school, I was in a grocery store and a little girl was singing so sweetly, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. That is an image I will never lose. That little girl has no idea.
In John Gorka’s song about Stan Rogers, he says “he shared more gold than any band was paid” – I always hear that as “he shed more gold” but it’s a lovely image. Remember that you can shed gold and diamonds into the lives of those around you. To borrow again from Gorka, “When you sing, you make the world a better place”. Believe it.
To finish, in the words of Eric Bibb:
Some days you get diamonds,
Some days nickels and dimes,
Some days sparkle,
Some days nothing shines,
Some days you’re given
Some days you choose,
Some days all you’re doing is paying dues.
(Eric Bibb (C) 2006)
And there is music in it all.
Shine on, friends.