Wednesday, May 18, 2011

dancin in the dark

At a Paul Simon concert in Toronto on May 7th, fan Rayna Ford screamed out a request for the song "Duncan," calling out that she had learned to play the guitar on the tune. Paul heard her and pulled her up on stage to have her sing the song. I dare you to watch this and not choke up a little:

Thanks to Sammy Jane Allison for linking me to this great story about it on NPR.

You can feel the soaring joy and trembling disbelief as she straps Paul's guitar on and starts strumming along. She finds her rhythm as she goes, but her performance punctuated with irrepressible moments of giddy gratitude. She can't believe it. Paul Simon is watching her play "Duncan." She brings the house down with tears streaming down her face.

It's hard not to imagine yourself in the same position. Admit it. You've been fantasizing over it ever since the first time you saw Bruce Springsteen pull Courteney Cox onstage in the "Dancing in the Dark" video.

How impossibly young and gorgeous are they in this video??

It's so easy to imagine it. I'm a few rows back at a Lil Wayne concert, wired on sheer excitement and squinting through the plumes of smoke issuing out of the fog machine. Between songs, I scream out SWIZZZZZZZYYYYY! PLAY SWIZZY! Weezy squints out at the audience with his hands shielding his eyes from the stage lights, wondering who has requested such a deep track--a true fan. He catches sight of me and grins, the rainbow of pulsing lights glinting off his grill. Out of nowhere, the helicopter-chop crescendo of the beginning of the track booms out of the wall of speakers. Weezy points at me and gestures for me to join him on stage, laughing. I point at myself (who, me?) and then laugh, shaking my head (no, I couldn't) as my friends push me up towards the stage.

I jump up on stage with the help of a few refrigerator-sized security guards. I give Weezy the most effortless hip-hop hand-clasp-then-hug greeting with a familiar smile and a wink, and then like magic a golden mic appears in my hand. I'm a little taller than Weezy, so I throw my arm around his shoulder, resting on his dreads, as I furiously spit the opening lines:

You know me I just be chillin in the Phantom
Listenin to opera
Gun is my bodyguard
Call it Kevin Costner

Weezy laughs in disbelief at my unexpectedly tight flow. He slugs me on the shoulder jovially to indicate his appreciation, mouthing the words as I rapid-fire spit them like I've been practicing for this every day of my life. (Which I definitely haven't.)

When I reach the final lines (WEEZY THE BEAST! KATIE THE MONSTER! And we're gone.), Weezy lifts his chain off of his neck and places it around mine. There are so many diamonds on it that it actually makes a soft bling blingbling sound. The crowd loses it, nearly knocking us backwards with their adoration. Weezy and I forget the encore and head straight to his bus to start working on my album.

Bonus: scroll up and watch Bruce and Courteney dance to "Swizzy."

Discussion Question::
Which musician would you most want to be pulled onstage by?


  1. That Paul Simon video made my night. I just felt pure joy and elation for that girl, because like you said that's probably my biggest dream.

    Personally, I would faint if Chris Carraba (of Dashboard Confessional) fame ever pulled me up. I feel like i'm forever 15 years old.

  2. What song would you sing? Or would he simply serenade you?

  3. I guess I just never really wanted to go up on stage and be put on the spot. I'd make me so nervous! Doesn't mean I can't enjoy it when someone else wants to go up on stage and have the spotlight for a little bit :-)

  4. "There are so many diamonds on it that it actually makes a soft bling blingbling sound." LOL

  5. i can't even express how much i love paul simon.

    my plan: steve perry gets back with journey and we sing Open Arms

  6. I would pay good money to see that.

  7. Awww, remember Courtney's old face?