I Walk Onto The Stage And As Soon As The Orchestra Plays The First Notes From My Signature Showstopper I'm Interrupted By Applause Before I Can Even Begin
First of all, the applause really starts when my name is announced, before I’m even all the way on the stage, still fully striding out from behind the curtain, because everybody knows what’s coming down the pike, and what they’re applauding right now is certainty, is safety, is assuredness in the good things that are to come. Jeremiah 29:11, that’s me, knowing the plans I have for you. Between the love for the song and the love for myself there is no distance – after a lifetime of dedicated and unrestrained performance, the song has become mine; I have managed to establish property rights, an inheritance, a birthright, a title claim to music itself. To hear the song is to hear me, and the mere sight of my person in formalwear on a given stage means the song has already begun.
I walk across the stage, smiling a brief, repressed smile. Now is no time for me to revel or bask in anything – I must resist your adoration, for it would drag me back onto my laurels. I am still a worker among workers. Do not clap for the dead song that has been – fall into silence for the song that is yet to come. I have not given up ownership to memory yet! I will lovingly shepherd the audience into correctness – Daddy’s here to work, children.
I hit my mark perfectly. Everyone in the room is filled with a spirit of preparedness, as in Acts 2:2-4. I do not inhale or pause. I begin.
First two words of the song. That’s a freebie. Delivered conversationally, and yet with real weight behind it. Before you knew in part, now you know even as you yourselves are known: it’s time. The song and the singer are united in time and space. Everyone goes nuts, which I was of course prepared for; generously I extend to them a few moments to collect themselves. The orchestra knows, intuitively, to wait on my mark before playing again. I have all the time in the world, and infinite patience for my erring children. This always happens, now, when I sing the song, the song that has served as my swan song for these last twenty-five years; I have grown old and statesmanlike with this song. I have lost all of the youthful beauty that once energized and characterized it, but my voice has grown redolent with oak trees and sheaves of barley and bell towers and all the sinking goodness of the fields of the earth, and everyone who hears it is a shade more prepared to welcome death in as a friend when their time comes. The microphone is pointed straight up, no tricks, directly towards my mouth and then God.
Next two lines. Easy, effortless, clearly reined-in, giving everything a straightforward pass over the larynx and directly out into the audience; everything perfectly enunciated and a little soft, to show just how well I can still hit the old notes without the added boost from the diaphragm. Still a few tricks, ladies and gentlemen. More applause – the last until the big finale. They know I will no longer permit distractions once I settle into the real work of my swan song. A tentative smile, melting into the old shit-eating Irish grin they knew and loved me for of old, and then we erupt, board the train to the top of the number. Orchestra’s back with me, rowing as fast as they can, audience sitting on their hands, saving their momentum for the big clap at the finale. They didn’t really know what they were applauding for before, but they’ll know in exactly three minutes and forty-nine seconds. Everywhere I go, there’s a stage, and whenever I step on it, hands start to move. Hold your applause – you’ll clap when I’m ready for it.