Last night G, Ellen and Beth came over for a rush dinner, then all five of us drove in C's car to Berkeley to see Carla perform at the Hillside Club. I had been wanting my friends to experience Carla in performance for a long time, but with Bay Area-itis, and everyone always having ten other commitments, it had been hard to get them together to go to something. Now, however, Carla's illness gave a focus and an urgency that got them there--and they were all glad they came.
It was not a pity party. It was a show. It was Carla at her most vibrant, powerful, and human. From the moment she stepped on the stage, she owned it. She was sassy, funny, graceful, soulful, and totally in charge. All the angst of the past few months only served to deepen her performance. Throughtout the show she held the audience, most of them friends and friends of friends, in the palm of her hand, even cracking jokes about her ALS:
"I just got diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, which really sucks because I hate baseball. Why couldn't I get some cool basketball player's disease--like Wilt Chamberlain Syndrome--have sex with 20,000 people and then die? Although I think I'd start to chafe after 5,000 or so."
Then she'd sing some jazz standard about how quickly time goes by and how we never quite grasp the great times while they're here (sorry, I can't remember the title of that one,) and everything was infused with new layers of meaning. She looked hot too, in a semi see-through blouse and camisole and skirt, with cute little round-toed pumps.
It wasn't until her last number, "Wonderful World," that the tears started to really flow for me. Uncontrollable. That song is like Gospel for Carla (and for me,) and she sang it as a love song, which is what it is. A love song to the world. My friend Bethie, who cries more easily than me, had been crying all through the performance, but it took that song to find the chink in my Prozac armor. (It's not just Prozac that makes me a tough crier, it's a long-time habit of denial in the face of deep water. But then I always end up in the swim anyway.)
She was precious up there, strong and vulnerable, and totally real. She held the audience--not just with her exquisite singing, but also with the emotional tightrope she was walking, between intense enjoyment of the moment and unbearably poignant awareness of how fleeting it all is. I especially love the two duets she did--an Appalachian tune, very mournful, with just Mike accompanying her on sax, and a beautiful soft number with the piano player (sorry, I can't remember names.)
C noticed me crying on Wonderful World and reached over and held my hand. I was proud of my two dudes, C and G, sitting next to each other. They're buddies. It's so sweet. And my grrlz. And other friends who heard about the concert on this blog and drove long miles to see and hear Carla. Her blog by the way is www.carlamuses.blogspot.com, and I'd put it up on the links section of this blog, except I that I am too technically incompetent to figure out how that works (C tried and he can't figure it out either.)
And now it is today--C's out with David, climbing around on a roof in San Francisco somewhere (yeesh!) and I have to go to Writing Salon and get new keys, and go to the grocery store and pick up food for two different potluck dinners, and try to get more done on the play.