“Magic mirror won’t you tell me please
Do I find myself in anyone I see?
Magic mirror if we only could
Try to see ourselves as others would.”
Leon Russell, 1972
Our night at the Three Blind Mice was slower than usual, this past Saturday. That’s ok, though. It gave us time to reflect.
Reflection can be very enlightening at times. It gives us pause to look at things we usually never see. Sometimes it even forces us to look even deeper into ourselves.
That was what we took away from our last show. When things are going fast and furious, at break-neck speed, it is very difficult to set aside any time to look deeper into where we are as individuals, as well as musically.
Sure, we observe and grouse about everyone else around us in our lives, daily. But how many times do we look inward?
That is what’s really difficult. To try and imagine ourselves as the world sees us. Objectively. Not real easy, I know.
That level of introspection is just what I experienced the other night, as I sat and talked with several interesting customers.
The night was quite, and that gave Carl and I time to pause and reflect on what was going on in the other people’s lives. We talked with several people at tables near and far on the main floor of the Mice. People that come in to share their night with us, are of particular interest.
We begin by offering them an introduction, a chance to share their feelings and eventually a suggestion that we could use to introject one of their favorites into our next set.
Usually, that is a great starting point, to let them get to know us, and eventually break down the barriers of shyness that we hold onto.
After we have played one or more of their favorites, they become even braver in their offerings. All good. Sometimes, we will share song upon song, until the night has reached its apogee.
This is something that we have always enjoyed. Probably the challenge of being able to reach back into our repertoire of music and find just the song that will delight the customer.
We began and ended Saturday night in just such a way. Several conversations with wonderful couples, tables of friends sharing the night, and a big group in search of just the right place to celebrate a birthday.
Each table, each group sharing requests, smiles and cheer. Reinforcing everything we have always know about ourselves and our customers at The Mice. A wonderful place to play, to enjoy and simply to, be.
A mirror has the ability to show us what we already know, albeit from another angle. We see our world as it reflects back at us; making us feel comfortable in what we know and perceive.
However, if we look again. Look harder. It sometimes forces us to look at ourselves in a different way. Deeper, longer and professionally.
It stands to reason, that if we cannot play the music that our patrons wish to hear, we either need to learn it, absorb and understand it, or find a different line of work. Probably at this point, just be easier to learn the right music.
Well, as slow as it was this Saturday, it turns out that we did in fact know the right music. We played what people liked; they told us so. But something else happened beyond that. Something unlooked for. Something not of song or rhyme, but of humanity.
I did something that I was not comfortable with, personally. I looked inside my self, and eventually, was rewarded for it. Rewarded with the gift of an interesting person’s life story.
Several times over the last couple years, I had seen Summer, but didn’t understand who she was. I made several un-enlightened assumptions as to who or what she/he was, based on simply watching her from afar.
On a usual night at the Mice, I never would have taken the time to say hello, ask for a request, or even engage in a conversation at all. But this night was different.
Time seemed to stand still as I sat down and asked her for a request. She asked if we knew any Beatles. That was a great beginning; since The Beatles were pretty much why we began playing music in the first place.
That common ground seemed to say to me, that even though we are all different, we are all pretty much, the same. We began by sharing the Beatles, and then, The Bee-Gees and Elvis. One song led to another, as one request opened an entire lifetime of conversation.
Summer’s musical requests culminated with her offer to us, to play some songs that we thought were special, or important to us. That was when Carl reached deep into his musical bag of must-loved songs and pulled out one of his treasured favorites. . .
The Magic Mirror, by Leon Russell.
Leon, you see released that song an an album, (Carny) the very same year that we began playing music; 1972. Carl had it on something called an 8-Track tape. We learned most of those songs on that album that summer, and have never really forgotten how it made us both look at a new world in ways we had never even dreamed.
And for two boys in their teens, that reflection opened up many conversations on many summer nights. All these years later, we know more about ourselves and who we are; but there is much mystery yet in our world.
How after all we have learned about ourselves and the human condition, that we can still treat others with contempt, prejudice, hate and mistrust. How we would rather fight or shun others, than reach out and love them.
We still seek to know and understand the enigmatic mirror of people and what makes them who they are. Many times we still feel like those young teens who knew nothing of the wide world.
So, on this night, when given the gift of quiet introspection, I had the opportunity to look deeper, past what I see of a person on the outside. Past the reflection.
All I had to do was to share something I loved so passionately; music.
And music opened the conversation with Summer. A very personal conversation.
How she grew up, and never really felt right about herself. She grew up, a boy. That, to her, was at the core of her problem.
After a troubled and tumultuous childhood and time as a young adult, Summer moved around and eventually got the courage to be the person that she had always wanted to be. A decision that was met with cruelty, heartache and at times, euphoria.
We talked about how she was treated during her life, and how people still treat her today. And, while her story was very interesting, yet foreign to me, it was also very compelling. In the end, I thought still, that although we are very different, there was still much common ground we shared.
Mostly though, Summer wanted the same things that all people want: some possestions to call her own, the chance to pursue her dreams, and more than anything else, just to be treated kindly by others. The stuff that Carl and I have been singing about, in one way or another, for more than four decades.
The common ground of our music, led us to look deeper into ourselves on a special night. That simple introspection allowed me to see things in a way that I never would have before.
Before I looked into the magic mirror.