Moved to Tears
I am not a night person, so I don't stay up until all hours watching late night TV. But I do enjoy watching the 8:00 and 8:30 rebroadcast of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, respectively. Last night's Colbert (Tuesday night's show) included an interview with Paul Simon, the silver-throated -- now silver-haired -- troubadour of my youth.
It wasn't a "typical" Colbert interview in that it wasn't particularly funny. The guest seemed a little shy and Stephen had to draw him out a bit. At one point, Simon grabbed his guitar to help answer a question, underlining the answer he had just given about whether words or music come first when he's writing a song. (Music.) But it was fine.
Simon wasn't wearing a baseball cap, as he usually does to hide his thinning gray hair. He looked like an older man; completely recognizable, just older. It was good to see him, though the only emotion watching him was of gentle nostalgia.
As is his custom when the guest is a performer, Stephen invited Simon to share a song to end the program.
He stood alone on a small oriental area rug; guitar in hand in front of a single stand microphone, and began to play. It was a familiar song. So familiar that I knew every note, every word, every squeak of his fingers on the strings. Still, I had to mentally fast-forward through the lyrics to come up with the title: An American Tune.
His voice was like the rest of him: older; a bit rougher, but still recognizable and familiar; comfortable. And as he sang each familiar word, each note and chord wafting across the room to me, my eyes welled up; then they spilled over, and I was crying; silently, so as not to miss one word; one note. It was the intensity of emotion that brought me to tears. But here's the funny thing: I had no idea which emotion it was.
Joy, that perhaps now as a people and a country we might finally be turning away from greed and selfishness? Fear, that this hoped-for and longed-for change might yet slip away? Longing for the past; a time when his voice was as buttery smooth as his skin? Pure nostalgia; viscerally recalling the emotions of times past spent listening to this and his other music?
I couldn't tell.
I just sat there and cried silent tears of...what? I have no idea.