Women wake us up - Tracy Chapman
For weeks, I talked about it. I bought tickets the first day they went on sale. They were on my bedside table so I would see them before I went to sleep and when I woke up. (No, I’m not the least bit obsessive and I thank you for asking).
July 29, 2003, was the magic day.
Chapman was coming to perform in Asheville.
Mr Brilliant has long known of my love for Tracy Chapman, starting with her first album in 1988, a disk I very nearly wore out. For years our car’s CD player had only one inhabitant, and that was a Tracy Chapman CD. I evidently enjoy repetition.
Imagine my delight at finding out she would play here, one of those magical moments when your heart actually skips around in your chest and you feel the tiniest bit breathless, like finding out you’ve won the lottery and can finally, thank the lord, buy that teal Vespa you keep talking about endlessly.
Tess had been born about six weeks earlier, and it would be our first foray into the World of Adults since then, me and Mr Brilliant.
He called around 4pm. “Guess what!” he said excitedly. “Tracy Chapman just left my store!”
I dropped the phone.
“WHAT?!” I screamed after I picked up the receiver. “AND YOU DIDN’T CALL ME? HOW COULD YOU NOT CALL ME? I COULD HAVE GOTTEN THERE IN THREE MINUTES! WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING? WHERE IS SHE NOW? KEEP HER THERE! GO OUT IN THE STREET AND GET HER BACK! DID YOU AT LEAST TELL HER HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT HER CONCERT TONIGHT?”
“I, um, actually didn’t recognize her,” he said quietly. “I didn’t know it was Tracy Chapman until Andy came over from next door to tell me she had been in his shop looking at shoes.”
“Let me get this straight. It’s the day of the Tracy Chapman concert, the concert I have effectively BEEN WAITING MY ENTIRE LIFE to go to, and on that very day, you see a dark-skinned dreadlocked woman with great arm muscles and HUGE DIMPLES walking in downtown Asheville where (trust me) that is not an everyday occurrence, and you didn’t know it was Tracy Chapman?”
“Um, yeah, I guess that’s what I’m telling you.”
Don’t get me wrong. The man is truly brilliant. He does live up to his name in every single way possible except, evidently, for celebrity sightings. All those years of my reading People magazine (which, by the way, I’ve given up because I could no longer live with the blood of victims of celebrity like Britney Spears on my hands) have done nothing for Mr Brilliant.
I made up a tri-fold color brochure on the deskjet printer: “HOW TO SPOT CELEBRITIES THAT PATTI ADORES,” and took him a copy. It had pictures of Tracy Chapman, Johnny Depp, Billy Collins (big surprises there), Anne Lamott, Lyle Lovett, and others, complete with descriptions in case the photographs were not enough…just to help Mr Brilliant should the occasion ever arise again. Under Tracy Chapman, the instructions were to CALL IMMEDIATELY if, on the day of a Tracy Chapman concert IN THE TOWN WHERE WE ARE LIVING, a strong-looking black woman with dreads and dimples large enough to hide snacks in should come in. And then I marched right next door to Andy’s store and bought a pair of the boots she had been looking at since, as with my love of Joan Armatrading, I have a secret desire to be her.
I love her look, her dimples, her voice, her music, her messages. It was a fabulous concert. I took Emma with me, realizing that Mr Brilliant wasn’t worthy.
[Oh, stop. I’m not that mean. Wee little Tess was sick and he needed to stay home with her.]
And so, I’m talking about a revolution, Tracy Chapman. She introduces us to issues we turn away from--domestic violence, welfare mothers, poverty. She spurs us to revolution.
By the way, here’s a pairing you don’t see every day: Luciana Pavarotti and Tracy Chapman singing together. And for all those writers and artists out there facing rejection, just know that she once sent a demo tape and got a rejection letter suggesting she tune her guitar.