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Dear Garrison, We saw your

August 31, 2004 |

Dear Garrison,
We saw your show at Tanglewood. It was a wonderful setting. How long does it take you to prepare for a show like that? You seem so comfortable with the area. It feels to us like you feel at home there. Thank you for coming to us!! See you again next year!!

Nicky and Dennis Parrott

Nicky and Dennis,
Thank you for coming. How long does it take to write the show? It takes all the time available to do it. If I start on Monday, it takes me until 5:45 Saturday, and if I start on Thursday morning, it takes until Saturday at 5:45. That’s when the Shoe Band starts playing for the warm-up and I put on a white shirt and brush my teeth and check my fly.

We all love Tanglewood. For one thing, I love staying at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and sitting on the front porch, which now feels homelike. It’s Norman Rockwell’s town and when you walk around Stockbridge, you’re in the midst of the iconic America he created. (Sunday morning at the Red Lion, drinking coffee on the porch, reading the Sunday Times, after the show is done, is pretty great, too.) And then too, my wife has told me so much about her student days at Tanglewood, when she was a young violinist, so the place is imbued with the joy of music and the spirit of Leonard Bernstein, who once conducted a student orchestra she played in and who was a powerful presence, almost godlike. Emmanuel Ax played on a PHC show at Tanglewood, so did the Juilliard String Quartet, so did other greats, and returning there, one remembers the spell they cast. Mostly, though, I love Tanglewood because the audience does. It’s their home more than it is mine, and it has powerful loving associations for them, as it does for my wife. After our show there in July, the audience kept clapping and clapping ---- we did a curtain call, and they kept clapping ---- so I walked out on stage, and it felt to me as if it wasn’t exactly a standing ovation, the crowd simply wanted to stay longer. They’d all mobbed down front up next to the stage and I started singing “Amazing Grace” with them and then a Pindar Family song from the Bahamas, “I Bid You Goodnight,” and the audience sang it so beautifully ----- “Goodnight, my dear mother, lay down and take your rest. Lay your head upon my Savior’s breast. I love you, but Jesus loves you the best, and I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight.” ---- it was so sweet and pure, full harmony, a river of song, and I stood there on stage and cried. Tanglewood is a powerful place and the audience makes it so and maybe the ghost of Bernstein is still at work, too. Afterward, I stood outside in the dark for a couple hours saying goodnight to people and then zipped back to the Red Lion for a late supper, and sat on the porch with Inga Swearingen and my wife and her Boston nieces and talked into the night. I look forward to next time.

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