A Living Legend
October 22nd, 2010

It’s not often that I have the privilege of watching someone do the thing they were clearly born to do. While we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I always advocate for trying new things and stretching our boundaries, there is something about watching a person so plainly in his element that just brings you joy. This happened to me on Wednesday night when I got to watch Chuck Berry play rock ‘n roll.

He is, by nearly all estimations, the inventor of rock ‘n roll. He was the first to cross elements of country music with the blues and refine them into what became rock ‘n roll. And, fittingly, he was the first inductee into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. Berry still plays one night a month at a bar a few miles from my house. GAP and I have been saying to each other for six or seven years: We really need to go see him while we still can. So this week, we did.

He is old now, having turned 84 on Monday. Given this, I expected to see a relic of a man seated in the center of the stage resting comfortably on his well-earned laurels, which would have been just fine. Before he came on a friend and I wondered aloud whether at 84 years old he would still get fired up to perform, or if these appearances are merely another in an interminably long string of days at the office. He answered our foolish question immediately.

He wore a red sequined shirt and a jaunty white cap. He stood the entire time. He danced a bit. He did the duck walk, for crying out loud! And he sang, and sang, and sang. The man has still got it! His eyes smiled the entire time. He beamed with pride as his son and daughter joined him onstage. (Talent did not skip a generation in this family.) And he wore that shirt, that hat, and several guitars as only a true rock star could.

Some people are blessed with a singular purpose in life. And sometimes we get to watch those people do that thing they were meant to do. I’ve watched Tiger Woods save par. I’ve watched Christopher Parkening play the guitar. I’ve watched Albert Pujols hit a home run. And now I’ve watched Chuck Berry play rock ‘n roll. These moments, when they come, crystallize in my mind and I know I’ll be able to recall them for the rest of my life. Talent like this has a way of packaging itself with a bow on top, so that you never lose sight of what a gift it truly is.

7 Responses to “A Living Legend”

  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    “Talent like this has a way of packaging itself with a bow on top, so that you never lose sight of what a gift it truly is.”

    Love this image. This idea. So true.

  2. Aging Mommy Says:

    Some people truly are blessed with a great gift and the greatest blessing of all for such people is to be able to realize it and put it to good use for both themselves and the rest of us to enjoy. Stopping by from They Call Me Jane after her glowing recommendation and I am so glad I did.

  3. Gale Says:

    A.M. – Thanks for stopping by. I was so flattered that Jane gave me a shout out. She is so clever and down-to-earth and I know she doesn’t throw away a compliment. Glad you enjoyed my post today and hope you’ll stop back by!

  4. Eva @ EvaEvolving Says:

    It’s a rare gift to see someone so talented in action. Great musicians usually come to mind for me, but I’m glad you mentioned athletes too. My husband and I saw BB King a few years back. He was seated the whole time, but could still play like nobody’s business – and was a great storyteller!

  5. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    Terrific post, Gale, and a wonderful reminder of what a gift it is to see a uniquely talented person in action.

  6. Jan Says:

    Who else? Lessee…. I saw Helen Hayes on stage. I heard Beverly Sills sing. I’ve seen Jack Nicklaus play golf. I’ve seen Albert hit. On television, at least, I saw Secretariat run.

  7. BigLittleWolf Says:

    84 and still at it? Wow.

    It’s truly inspiring to encounter people who are doing what they were made to do, as you say. I’ve had that privilege just a few times. Artists. And both in their 80s! Incredible talents, and fascinating lives. Good lives. I had the privilege of writing about one two years ago, and hope to have the privilege of writing about the other in the next few months. Bliss.