Long before I began playing an instrument or even expressed an interest in doing so, I remember seeing Richie Havens on some television show—but it was only a glimpse. It was one of those exciting kid-moments, you know, when your parents hadn’t yet realized that it was way past your bedtime: you sat there as quietly as possible hoping you wouldn’t get noticed, enthralled by the mysterious images and sounds coming from the “grown-up” world of late-night television.
I don’t recall which show it was.
(Richie Havens, 1941-2013)
I could only have been 6 or 7 years old, and it wasn’t his song Freedom that first hooked me, it was his rendition of Here Comes the Sun (a song featured in the movie The Hoax not too long ago). Though I was old enough to recognize the melody (if not the name) of the song, I didn’t know if the guy I was watching was the guy who originally wrote it, but I didn’t really care. I also didn’t know that the unusual way he played his guitar—with his thumb reaching over the fingerboard—was even unusual, because that didn’t matter either. All I knew was that I liked it.
I liked it a lot.
And to this day, when it comes to music it’s still the only thing that has ever really been important; and it’s all right.