“This is a John Denver song,” I say, “but it’s sort of before he became John Denver. John started out as Henry John Deuschendorf. His father was an officer in the Air Force, and John grew up an army brat, travelling all over the world. He changed his name to John Denver when he thought that would be easier for folks to remember. But early on, he wrote this song that Peter, Paul and Mary recorded and made into a hit,” and I launch into “Leaving On A Jet Plane.”
I spend a little over an hour with the folks at Plum Tree Care Center. I play some folk songs, a couple of old country tunes, a couple of jazz standards, some J.S. Bach; my usual eclectic mix. Along the way, I tell stories: about the songs, about me, about our travels in the RV (with the three cats and the dog), and about my guitars. Folks are listening. Folks are smiling. Folks are clapping and moving when I launch into a rousing rendition of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya”. The hour passes easily, and I enjoy myself the whole time, sharing tunes and stories, and enjoying this time with an appreciative audience. I finish my set just at the onset of lunch, and proceed to pack up my gear as the staff begins to bring out meals for my audience.
Teresa asks the residents to vote as to whether they want to hire me (I have been told that this is a standard procedure, but it makes me wonder all over if I am going to see the paycheck from this gig).
It’s not that I am some total mercenary. Honestly, if money were my biggest concern, I could have sold insurance with my Dad years ago. All musicians are called to their profession. That’s what the word, ‘vocation’, means: a ‘calling’. But you still want to pay the rent, as it were. I have a chance to tell Teresa about the generator in the RV breaking down in Las Vegas, and the subsequent repair bill of nearly $3,000. I am hoping that it will persuade to make sure that check gets processed and mailed to my drop-box.
Teresa suggests that I could come back onc a month, at which point I have to explain that, since I am touring all okver ther country, the best I could promise would be to come back next yiear.
“Next year,” she nods. “You can come back for our UN Day and play some Swedish music.”
I wish I could be sure that this is some sort of expression of her sense of humor, but honestly, I have no idea.