Telluride Contest Entry: Why It’s Okay to Be a Little Star-Struck
So, yeah, being star-struck is not cool.
Being all moony-eyed over an artist or celebrity is the height of boorishness these days, it seems. It’s cool to be into roots music, folksingers, and bluegrass pickers, but it’s annoying (bordering on stalker-ish) to be really INTO any given artist. You’re supposed to think of them as just regular people, like you and me. You know, they put their proverbial pants on the proverbial number of legs at a time, just like the rest of us. Right?
Take the case of Shawn Colvin, who will be appearing at the Telluride Festival as part of Three Girls & Their Buddy. Just bear with me for a moment here as I describe my experience as a Shawn Colvin fan of 14, going on 15, years – almost half of my life.
I was 19 years old and in college and unsure about everything when I first heard Shawn Colvin. I lived in a house in the beautiful Madrona neighborhood of Seattle, near the shores of Lake Washington, with a bunch of other women I met playing rugby. These women had friends who were Actual Musicians – the kind who wrote their own Actual Songs and played Actual Gigs. I played the guitar a bit, but I certainly never had the courage to write a song, and if I did I didn’t have the slightest idea how a person would go about getting a gig somewhere. So, these women impressed the proverbial pants off of me. It was through the covers of Shawn Colvin songs they played that I was led to pick up a copy of the album Steady On.
To describe Steady On as a life-changing record would not be an exaggeration. Shawn Colvin is an incredible lyricist whose evocative, personal songs are littered with vivid imagery. And, she can PLAY the guitar. And her voice… It was incredibly inspiring to me to hear a woman folksinger who could do it all; who could out-compete almost anyone in terms of sheer guitar skill; who could take her voice places that few others can reach. There’s also something about the way she lays her life bare in her songs, which can be so achingly personal that there’s never any doubt she has lived every song. Having lived some of the same songs as Shawn (a Big Book and antidepressants, anyone?), her music has meant even more to me.
Over the next 14 years, I’ve been an avid fan. I’ve bought and memorized each record, seen her play live every chance I got, and even begun my own singer/songwriter path. I now write my own Actual Songs and play my own Actual Gigs, and Shawn Colvin is the single biggest influence on my songwriting and guitar playing. Shawn’s songs have been the soundtrack for new loves, painful breakups, moves across three states and back again, facing my inner demons, and most recently, the death of my good old dog and the arrival of my new puppy.
So…is it really so strange that I should feel a sense of reverence, and feel, yes, a little star-struck? Is it really so odd that any of us should feel that sense of awe and amazement in connection with someone who has created a lifetime of music that has affected and influenced us so much? Music, after all, is like air, or water; as Shawn says, “if there were no music, then I would not get through.”
I think it must be okay to be a little moony-eyed in the presence of someone who created the music that gets me through.