Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Let It Be Me" and the power of a song


It's been another year since I last posted a blog, but today was pretty special to me.

Chris's absolute favorite song is an Indigo Girls song written by Emily Saliers called "Let It Be Me." He first heard it about a year ago when he and Alex were fighting in the car. The song has a line "This is not a fighting song." I turned it on and told them they couldn't fight while this song was on. They not only bought it, but Chris started requesting "not an arguing song" frequently, and asking for it to be repeated 2, 3, 4+ times whenever it came on. A year later, he knows all the words, asks for it all the time, and sings it daily. A couple weeks ago he woke up in the morning and told us that he slept great because when he had nightmares, he "shined his life like a light" (a quote from the song) and all the bad went away. He asks me to explain the meaning to him (he enjoys the term "metaphor" and will ask "what is that a metaphor for?"). To me, the song is about being the good that the world needs, and spreading that to others. I've told him that I think that song is perfect for him, because it reminds me of him. Of course he's only 5 and I'm his mom, so I'm biased.

When I mentioned out loud to John a month or so ago that Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls would be at a Newbury Comics in Boston one afternoon, Chris overheard, and there was no question that we'd be going. He understands that she did not write "Let It Be Me," but she sings it, so that was good enough for him. He does like many of her songs as well (both solo and her Indigo Girls songs), but he has been on a mission. He decided he would sing "Let It Be Me" for her. I told him I didn't know what to expect at the appearance. I'd never been to anything like that before. All I knew was that she was doing an acoustic set, and then maybe signing autographs. I didn't know how she would react to him. I was worried he'd be let down, and honestly, I was afraid I'd be let down. I have a lot of respect for both Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, and I was afraid of setting us up for disappointment. Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

Chris wrote Amy a letter. It said "Amy, May I sing Let It Be Me for you?" He signed it "Chris (heart) Amy Ray (heart) Chris" and he drew her a picture of the train and trees on the way in. As we approached the front of the line, employees came by to tell everyone that there would be no time for posed photos, to have your stuff ready to autograph, and to not hold up the line. I started to get worried, and I prepared Chris (and myself) for the possibility that she wouldn't have a chance to even look at his note.

When we got to the front, he brought her his letter, and Alex handed her a CD to sign. I tried to rush them by prompting Chris to read it to her, saying that preschool handwriting can be difficult. In an attempt to calm me down, Amy assured us that his writing was great, and she could read it perfectly. She read it out loud, and when she realized what song he was asking for, she said she was going to give his letter to her friend, Emily, because she wrote it and it would make her happy. Chris told her that he knew that Emily wrote it. This was possibly the best thing she could have said to Chris, since more than anything else, he truly enjoys making people happy. Then he explained his picture to her, and she told him he was very creative and pointed out that his tree looked like a guitar as well. I continued to try to rush him along, and Amy continued to try to calm me down. She asked if he wanted to sing for her. He was being shy and nervous, so to help him get started, she sang with him. He flew through most of the first verse in a whisper. She talked to Alex for a minute, which helped Chris relax a little and sing more. She joined in with him periodically as he sang. Of course the boys were both more calm than I was. I brought a tee shirt to have her sign, and when she asked me to whom she should sign it, I froze for a minute. In the end she told us to come see the Indigo Girls when they come to the area in July and they'd sing "Let It Be Me" for him. I said something like "Are you sure?" and she said yes, and that we should bring a sign to remind them.

As we rode the train home, I was struck by how many people were made happy by the exchange, and how appropriate it was that it was all sparked by a song about spreading good things in the world. John, Chris, Alex and I left on cloud nine. Amy seemed to enjoy the boys. She made a point of saying she would pass Chris's letter on to Emily, who wrote the song, as it would make her happy. Perhaps most interestingly, when I looked at the pictures John took, I realized that all the people waiting in line behind us were smiling and watching. Even these strangers, who had to wait in line longer because we took so much time, were happy.

I hold both Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in very high regard, and they both lived up to it today. One by her graciousness and generosity of spirit in person, and the other through the power of a song she wrote two decades ago.