Amos Lee Live

Sarah and I drive to BigCity, NC to see Amos Lee at a small venue downtown. There are about 150 people there for the show on a Monday night and Sarah and I look at each other with shock and excitement as we realize, almost simultaneously, that we don’t know anyone else there.

“We’re in a room..” Sarah says, leaning in to shout over the cacophony of the crowd.


“And there are happy urban people here…”


“And none of them know our lives!”

“Yes!” I say, taking it all in. And really, for all that a small mountain community has to offer, I can say that for once it is nice to be away and anonymous. We have broken out of the fishbowl and are no longer so easy to spot.

But of course the highlight of the evening is Amos Lee himself. I watch him sing and play, soulsy-folk-blues voice slipping out of him like water, his seamless lyrics filling the audience’s parched mouths, those brown, gumball eyes hidden behind closed lids. It occurs to me that he is praying at the microphone, creating something new and offering it up right before our eyes. I am reminded again of how important it is for artists to seek out other artists, how we need to fill ourselves with another person’s creativity every once in a while to grant our own spinning souls a reprieve.

I watch the crowd, too, and am most appreciative of the twenty-something male in a hipster train conductor-like hat that has come to the show alone. He closes his eyes during the slow songs and mouths the words. He drinks water and dances humbly with himself. By the time the encore rolls around, he moves in full head swings, body quaking with Amos’ musical mélange. I contrast this with the exceedingly drunk pair of couples in front of Sarah and I. They are in their forties and yell loudly and dance as if attempting to procreate through denim. The men try to high-five each other and miss and whenever they leave their girlfriends to go get more beer, the women look around like puppies waiting for their owners return. It occurs to me that they are not capable, at least on this occasions, of having an independent experience for themselves.

So all this is to say that I take note of the teachings around me. I take note of Amos closing his eyes, fingers poised for a musician’s prayer across the strings of an opal-inlaid guitar. I give in to the lull of his creativity, his artwork, his offering to the world. It is nice to dive into someone else’s work like this. And I take note of the young man, how comfortable he was with himself, how fully engrossed he became in the performance, how perfect attuned he was to the present moment. And I take note of the drunk women, the obnoxious men, and I remember that I never want to be that dependent. Remember that there must be a balance in life; that for all my wants and waitings and broken hearts that ultimately, happiness cannot be planted in anything external. The necessary nutrients lie within our own souls, the sunlight of our own unique spirits shines to make that happiness grow.

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