I never had crushes on The Beatles but growing up around numerous teens in the 60’s, nearly every girl (and some boys) had a favorite Beatles ‘crush.’ But that was as a teen. I was shaken a bit to my foundation when I developed one much later in life. But the more conversation I had with others, crushes took place in every decade from teens to seventies. I was relieved to hear this as I thought I was an anomaly. Let me share a bit about my crush on singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff. There have been others (laughter)… but one share will do for me.
Karla Bonoff Strikes a Chord
I sat there in a single seat, in a row among hundreds three decades ago. Her thirty-year old hands were the same age as mine as I watched them on the piano keys, then her guitar… her head bending and rising in the slightest drifts with each note. She looked shy, but maybe I was just projecting myself in to what I imagined her to be.
I swallowed her lyrics like they were my elixir, as an awakening took place that night in the Rainbow Hall in Denver so long ago. A fine crystalline sweetness filled me with a surge of energy that turned in to more of a longing. I never felt so full, or so crushed at once… suddenly I felt lost in a full universe that felt starless.
I filled up on her written words as her syllables became the stars that she sang to strangers in the shadows. A duet of senses filled my head, as her words spun my inner needs... her lyrics snagged a sadness with in me, and my loneliness of long nights. Her music moved me. Clearly, her lyrics and sounds moved all as was told by the brief silence upon her songs ending, then lifted hands strongly applauding before her.
She was a mellow form of fierce to my mind, a slow burn for the audience. We were all incinerated. I sat quietly for decades before that night, just staring at what I felt I needed or wanted. So much passed me by, as I fell desperately for what she gave us that night, this presence on a stage …in her voice… in her instruments… her lyrics absorbed in my bones. If I could have fallen to my knees, I would have.
She was a mere staging…but what she gave stormed through me as I sat in the ink of the room. Her dark hair, the dark piano softened with her genetic brew that was formed in 1951. I don’t know her, she didn’t know me. But I was there, and I listened to what she created through all she was, all she knew.
I could not be as close as I wanted. I was nothing but a stranger, a paying patron as I filed out ever so slowly, with hundreds of other strangers. I found myself glancing back at the songs still floating above the stage. I didn’t want to leave that essence. I felt more lonely and broken than when I walked in to listen to her and her piano. All was black on black, in the dark on dark… her beauty and songs I needed… like a ghost I once knew in another world she came out of nowhere.
I wanted to sit by her on her piano bench. Be still, be quiet, and maybe see her smile once. Nothing real. Her music, lyrics, instruments that let her essence break through to the audience whether she realized it or not, happened. I wasn’t the only one who felt her. Musicians know that… they must if they themselves listen to others make music. Human, we are all human, we all can be moved by art of the voice, the word, and the music in the movement of air. We breath in the vibrations.
I played her creations for a couple decades. Never wild, never as free as I truly wanted to be. Her music touched me. It was that simple…and that shattering. And I knew it then, as thousands knew all over the world when they heard her sing. She had something special, and as I aged, she did as well. I wanted to see her one more time, a time that spanned over thirty years. And I did, in 2014.
I saw we aged the same, the same lines etched upon us, both wiser women… two women in their 60’s now. She was still singing, and me still listening… still enjoying her, still dreaming as one of many unnamed shadows in the crowd before her. Her music traced our lives out in a lyrical drawing, her voice creating sketches in our life. Maybe I need to see Karla Bonoff just one more time. (a bit of laughter)
http://karlabonoff.com/ For concert and music. You can hear her on YouTube.