I was recently fortunate to secure myself an All Access pass to the 2009 Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame Awards at the Shubert Room, Marquis Marriott in Times Square, New York. And really, Wow! What an event. What a room full of some of the icons of Songwriting over the past 20 or more years.
I donned myself for the black tie event in a black and silver tie, black vest and blue Kwami velvet jacket, served with a Twilight inspired hair height. The description of the attire is more than just a Libran exercise in aesthetic nuances. All shall be revealed in due course.
Songwirtiers of acclaim abounded. Amongst the recipitants that night were Tom Jones, The Younjg Rascals, Stephen Schwarz, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambura, Jason Mraz. Most of the artists inducted were requested to perform live. Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, in this era of popular karaoke song contests and boy band/girl group lip syncing, here were the cream of the crop doing wehat they do best and doing it live onstage. Tom Jones and his crew tripped over the intro of “Not Unusual”, and what a delight is was to hear him say that he had been singing this song for 50 years and they needed to start again. And he did. And of course, the women (and one or two of the gentlemen) were on their feet with knickers in clenched fist ready to pelt. Stephen Schwarz accompanied himself on a grand piano singing “Defying Gravity” from his musical Wicked. He may have missed the ket change vocally, but hey, he’s Stephen Schwarz. He can sing any old damn thing he wants. For my money though, Jason Mraz and Clint Black topped the event with performances of “I’m Yours” and ‘Woman in Black” respectively.
Standing at the rear of the usitorium when I arrived I was standing close to the holding area for most of the guests before they made an entrance for their awards and performances. I turned casually to my left to see Jon Bon Jovi standing next to me. Now, I had some Twilight hair going on, and had used a number of products to get it to stay in place. But looking at this icon of American rock next to me, I realized that I had really been quite sparing in comparison. There is a do that would survive the next hurricane and global warming. But like Stephen Schwarz, who cares. He’s Jon Bon Jovi and he can put as much mouse in his hair as he damn well likes. His acceptance speech was very articulate, humble, grateful, and loving of his friend and musical compadre Richie Sambura. Now, maybe I looked the part in being there, and possibly the fact that Richie does require a little assistance with spectacles, but he kept saying hello to me like I belonged their. And he wasn’t alone. Lots of nice smiles and friendly hellos. I got the impression that people thought that I was a “someone” in this roomful of people where you couldn’t swing a cat without it scratching someone who’s press agent would want to sue for damages and end up on the cover a tabloid magazine supposedly seeking facial reconstruction surgery in the lavender scented rooms of a Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon.
I buddied up with my new friend Emma (or Emm), and we had a ball wondering around the venue, stalking Tom Jones. Emm is not an avid autograph hunter, but where one’s mother is concerned, not taking the opportunity to score a signature from the man that made her own mother think twice before slipping off a pair of warm cottontails would have been more than the woman could bare. So we sought him here, we sought him there, and found him up the front of the auditorium where all the expensive seats were for rock music royalty. Tom was very gracious and willingly handed over his old John Handcock, much to Emm’s delight. She couldn’t resist the urge to press against him and tell him that he indeed smelt most delicious.
The only person I was really concerned with stalking like a rabid fan with a fully loaded gun … well, a fully loaded digital camera … was Jason Mraz, as the evidence below shows. (Not even the hint of photoshopping.)
Even though this was an industry event I still found him to be very engaging and down to earth – even though I babbled on like a dizzy school girl (so unlike me). We actually had a lovely conversation unbeknowns to us with Mummy Mraz, who Jason had brought along (with his father) to the event. What a nice fellow.
Emm and I spent some time up at the bar on the 8th Floor chatting with the heir to the Gershwin throne. Everyone around was talking business – who they were and what they were doing there. What was I doing there? Umm .. good question. So I told everyone the truth to that question who asked. I was merely travelling on through, writing a blog, and enjoying the company of strangers at events like this. Just call me a bonne vivant!
Once the evening formalities were over most of the invited guests made their way to an invitation only after party in the Manhattan Room. Fortunately for me after a conversation with the Young Rascals, they decided to sneak me in with them. As I had an All Accesss pass the militant door people were allowing me through, and after a little pleading, Emm who was in under a crew pass. More drinking of lovely wines and little slices of gorgeous canapés and desserts, and I was well my element. The lights over Times Square blaze through the windows of the Manhattan Room.
All I could think of was how a boy from Newcastle, Australia seemed to be standing at the centre of the universe for just this instant on a night like this.