Monday, February 26

Them kids are in a funny way

It was about ten years ago that my dad took Wendell, Paula, Micah and me to hear Livingston Taylor play at the Saenger Theatre in Mobile. On Friday night Paula, Tuan and I were privileged to hear him again at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge. I grew up hearing Livingston and his brother James on the turntable in the background during family evenings. I remember staring at the cover of Echoes, taking in every detail down to his long pale eyelashes while I tried to figure out if this was two brothers who looked eerily alike or the same man shown twice. Record covers allow a lot more scope for visual contemplation, you know.

On Friday night Livingston took the stage in his characteristic oxford shirt, bowtie and suspenders. He is down-to-earth and approachable. He chats with fans before, during intermission and after the show. After each song he steps out of the spotlight, snaps his long frame straight and bows. His rubber face registers mock surprise when the applause continues enthusiastically, but he seems genuinely honored to be doing what he’s doing. When I’m Not as Herbal as I Ought to Be is met with (relatively) thunderous applause Liv chides the audience, “I didn’t know you liked the cheap stuff! Heck, I wore a bowtie and everything.” The audience is pretty mellow, but when a smattering of applause breaks out at the opening of his children’s song Pajamas, he grins, “That’s right—the hits just keep on coming!”

The audience is almost entirely composed of people my parents’ age. I suspect that most of them are probably liberal. “I am young and conservative,” I think. “How did I get here?” But Livingston himself is an odd mixture of northern and southern, liberal and conservative. He grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Boston. Why Wasn’t I Born Gay? makes me a bit uncomfortable, but before long he’s singing gospel songs, which probably makes other people uncomfortable. At the climax of Step by Step (But Satan has no weapon / No arrow, knife, or sword / That can take away the love / Of Jesus Christ the Lord) the audience breaks into cheers.

Here is the set list for Friday evening:
1. Life is Good
2. I’m in a Pickle
3. Letting the Whiskey Do the Talking
4. Never Lose Hope
5. North to Alaska
6. Last Alaska Moon
7. I’m Not as Herbal as I Ought to Be
8. Olympic Guitar
9. Why Wasn’t I Born Gay
10. Kitty Hawk, December, Nineteen-Three
11. There You Are Again
12. Tell Jesus (to come to my house)
13. Pajamas
Intermission
14. Heart and Soul
15. Yes
16. Answer My Prayer
17. Step by Step
18. Best of Friends
19. On and On
20. I Wish I Were a Cowboy
21. Carolina Day
22. City Lights
23. Railroad Bill
24. Our Turn to Dance
25. My Baby Don’t Mind
26. Over the Rainbow
27. Grandma’s Hands

2 comments:

Micah said...

Ah, my first concert. Still have the pic of us all in my living room...although I have been known to let the innocent observer think it's James...

You do know about Nickel Creek In Concert In (of all places) Clinton, Mississippi on Tuesday, April 17? Be there or be square.

Caroline said...

I don't want to be a square! And I do want to see Nickel Creek.