If you’ve never seen or heard the power that music can have, let me try to illustrate the scene that took place last night.
Around 6:30 pm, we got a call from a friend saying to head down to Qualcomm Stadium (one of the evacuation sites) around 9pm to play some music for the evacuees. So Han, DK & I loaded up and made the short drive to the stadium, now home to some 10,000 people who have been displaced by these horrendous fires.
Even though my home was completely safe, the stress and smoke had my head aching. I’d taken a long nap during the day but it was still there (and still is today). But I still wanted to go there and see the people and be part of the situation.
When we pulled into the parking lot, the guard at the gate was so thrilled to hear that we were coming in to provide some entertainment. We parked and after some calls figured out where to go. Walking through the stadium parking lot we saw cots, tents, people setting up camp near their cars in the parking lot and news trucks. Inside, much of the perimeter of the stadium was lined with food tables. There was plenty for everyone it looked like. But it was so strange to see this place in this new context. People had put their cots in the rows of seats that face the football field. They were set up in tents in the thoroughfare where on game days there are beer and hot dog vendors. More cots placed strategically near the restrooms.
photo by Nicole Lozare: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kpbs/1731980504/in/photostream/
We found our friends gathered at a picnic table near gate F. They were just there with acoustic guitars, a djembe and their voices. They started to take turns playing songs. When I got there, they were doing one of C’s songs called “Good to Be.” I love this song because of its uplifting message and soaring chorus:
Feeling kind of blue on a Sunday afternoon
thinking ’bout all those things I’ve been meaning to change
I’ve been meaning to do but
there’s a good song on the radio
and there’s a breeze blowing through my window
and the dog next door hasn’t barked for a while
so it’s good to be alive
After that song, they went around the circle and A sang “Angel from Montgomery.” Everyone sang along and played along. Slowly people began to come around and listen. Children danced. Han was next and he led everyone in a rousing rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” More people showed up. A girl who had stopped to listen asked if anyone knew “American Pie.” My friends & I all laughed to ourselves because there is one among us who knows every word to that song, and doesn’t love it so much. But you can be sure that he immediately started playing it, and of course, we all joined in at the chorus that everyone knows:
bye bye miss American pie
drove my Chevy to the levee
but the levee was dry
and good ol’ boys are drinkin’ whiskey & rye
sayin’ this’ll be the day that I die
Looking around at everyone singing and smiling and even dancing, I teared up a little and got some goosebumps. So many people have said this on blogs or in the news, but the fellowship among San Diegans has been remarkable and this was but one example. And I was right there, singing along. I am so grateful to have this stellar group of musical souls with huge hearts as my friends.