Every Tuesday I play live music in the America Lobby at Walter Reed in Bethesda. It’s for a program called Stages of Healing. It helps make everyone feel a little more human in what can be a scary or frustrating place.
I like to spy out the folks sitting, waiting, strolling, or wheeling by and play songs they might like. So I tend to play a lot of standards and pop songs from the 60s. I love to see the faces light up when I play “Tennesee Waltz”, “Lady is a Tramp”, or “Rose of San Antoine”.
Some days, frankly, I’m soundly ignored. But some days I seem to hit the mark, and many folks come over to applaud or suggest songs. Yesterday it was “Fox on the Run”, made famous by the Seldom Scene. My dad used to play that song a lot so I trotted it out with confidence and vigor. Then I realized I’d totally forgotten how the verses went and ground to a rueful halt. But the crowd was just delighted to hear the charming chorus. I realize again that music doesn’t have to be perfect to bring joy. It’s the shared experience between player and listener, that bond between strangers that happens for just a moment, riding on the line of song, that thrills us both.