On Meeting Heroes

3 Oct
2012

When I was young…maybe 10 or 11, my cousins and I went to see a pretty famous children’s book author read and sign. Actually, I was so young and so excited about an autograph, I don’t remember if she read. I imagine she did. I am not going to name her because it’s not important.

Anyway, this was probably the first author I had ever met, certainly the first booksigning I ever went to, and I was pretty excited. I fancied myself a “writer” even though blogs didn’t exist back then, and I didn’t know how to play guitar or write songs yet. My cousins and I listened to the reading (let’s pretend there was a reading) and waited in line for quite some time as there were a lot of people there and she was, like I said, fairly well known. (Note: this was way before Harry Potter so no, it was not JK Rowling, who I’ve heard is delightful).

She was mean. I probably didn’t have the proper words for it then but I remember the feeling of the whole experience and she was not nice. When your crowd is kids and your genre is imaginative fiction, you’d think there would be a bit of…whimsy. Who knows why there wasn’t, but I remember her handlers (or the book store employees or both) being pretty stressed.

“She will ONLY sign ONE BOOK.”
“Do NOT ask for photos!”
“PUT YOUR NAME ON THE POST-IT NOTE AND PUT THE POST-IT NOTE ON THE TITLE PAGE ONLY IF YOU WANT IT PERSONALIZED.”

Yikes. Pretty sure she didn’t look up at all as she was signing. Maybe she barked a hello, who knows. I got my book signed and then got out of the cattle call. My cousins and I kind of laughed in wonderment at how cranky she was all the way home.

She wasn’t a “hero” of mine even though I had read her books, but now she would never have the chance. I tucked that book way back on my shelf, and every time I pulled it out I would cringe.

Shawn Colvin at Waterloo Records

Yesterday Shawn Colvin played and read from her new book Diamond in the Rough at Waterloo Records. Of course I went. Thanks to Waterloo Records, one of the last best music brick and mortar stores in the country, and their live performances, I’ve gotten to see and meet folks like Patty Griffin, Justin Townes Earle, and Mindy Smith. Super fun.

Shawn is so cool and has been such a heroine of mine that I didn’t actually believe that she would be doing a signing there, but sure enough it was to benefit HAAM Day (the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians).

Everyone take a deep breath from my first story and relax. Shawn was excellent, of course. She did 4 songs and read passages from her book about moving to Austin. I had read her book earlier this year on my eReader, but I figured it would be weird for her to sign that, so I had to get a hard copy. I stood in line and she signed my book and she was super nice, and while I could have said something like “I’ve been studying your guitar playing since high school,” or something…those kinds of things tend to peter out really fast and have a tendency to make all parties feel old, no matter how true that are. Sunny Came Home came out in 1995, after all.

In situations like that it would be great to be able to really impress on a person how awesome you think they are without coming off as a crazed fan that is off her meds, but instead I decided to err on the side of brevity and just say Thank You. I really did learn to play guitar based on Shawn and Mary Chapin. Not many other girls were publicly mainstream-ingly killing it on guitar at that time. Those two continue to do so and lit the way for a lot of us.

Anyway…when you meet someone you admire and they’re cool, the world feels a little warmer. I’m glad this was the outcome this time. We could all aspire to this…who knows who wants to meet us but can’t really tell us why. Good behavior, people…be on it.

Shawn Colvin

16 Responses to On Meeting Heroes

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swl

October 3rd, 2012 at 8:46 pm

i on the other hand… indeed looked like a crazed stalker… and well…

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RawfeyL

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:00 pm

When we finally meet and conspire, I expect your cape to be pressed because you impress me to pedestal proportions. Young yet wise, you are one of my blog heroes. The Philosophy of Po is profound.
Well done.

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Heather

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I think you are even cooler in person than I could have imagined. Hooray!!!

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sharron

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:06 pm

she may be a diamond in the rough, jana, but you are a gem. this (and you) are priceless. xo

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James Rannefeld

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I’m “maybe” gonna get to have dinner with a legendary studio drummer next month when he’s in town. He’s in the rock and roll hall of fame. I hope he likes me and isn’t mean to me….Great post, JPo.

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Josh K.

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:15 pm

@RawfeyL – I’ve met her, and her cape is exceptional. Jana is, hands down, one of my favorite people on this rock. You have good taste in blog heroes.

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Heydon

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:25 pm

This is an awesome story! Bummer about the Children’s Author. The sign of a well told story is when it reminds someone of an experience they had that relates at all, and this definitely did for me.
I remember going to a reading when I was a little kid, and the author was awesome and nice, but her husband seemed a little scary, but I think he was just really trying to hide. He was Alan friggin’ Alda after all, and I was petrified of looking dumb in front of my favorite MASH actor.
Thanks for sharing your story!

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justin

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I have met a few celebrities out in the wild. Ice Cube, Dennis Rodman, Jon Bones Jones, Drew Barrymore were all cool and down to earth. The ones I have met that were rude were local newscasters that thought they were some big shots and everyone should pay attention to them.

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:19 pm

oh y’all are too nice. :) but thank you for reading! xo

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:21 pm

SWL – you did not. You brought cool art! :)

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Justin – which is a good lesson! sorry, local news folk. :)

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Heydon – thanks for your story! I’m sure Alan was scared of looking dumb in front of you! we’re all human. Thanks for reading, Heydon.

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:23 pm

And I heart JK back. Thank you, sir.

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:24 pm

James – It’s gonna be awesome…but report back because now I wanna know.

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Heather – Back at you internet turned real flesh and blood buddy!

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janapo

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:26 pm

RawfeyL….one day the minds shall meet.

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