Paul Simon brings a fan on stage to play guitar

Maybe it’s because I’m a beginner piano player — and I admit it, I sometimes get myself through practice by fantasizing about sitting in with my favorite musicians — but this video of a recent Paul Simon concert chokes me up.

Apparently a fan named Rayna yells out that she learned how to play guitar playing Simon’s song “Duncan,” and he responds by inviting her up on stage. A roadie hands her a guitar and Simon backs up to let her have the mic.

Rayna’s pure joy gets me. I totally feel her stunned excitement, and cheer for her as she does a great job.

Maybe this is going to become Paul Simon’s thing, as he has since invited a fan on stage in D.C. to help him with “Gumboots.” If so, what a fabulous, wonderful little schtick. Turn over the microphone for one song and you give one fan something to remember for a lifetime and the whole crowd a chance to root for someone.

Here’s one question I have, though: so many people are terrified of public speaking that I wonder how many people might get that opportunity and freeze. I’m too self conscious to play piano for my friends (at least now) and I can picture having Stevie Wonder call me up to play My Cherie Amour and being terrified of embarrassing myself in front of him and several thousand people.

Could you do it? Could you put your amateur skills on display for someone you adore and all their fans?

It’s not singing or playing piano, but when Preservation Hall Jazz Band came to NYC earlier this week, I did accept the invitation to dance on stage. I was self conscious but not going to let fear keep me in my chair.

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Categories: creativity

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2 replies

  1. p.s. The cynical part of me always figures those people who get called up out of the audience are plants. Sort of like Courtney Cox in Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” video.

    Everything in a live show is pretty controlled, even the “spontaneous” moments. After all, the audience is there to be entertained, so those amateur performers have to be pretty good for this thing to work.

  2. Oh, hell no.

    One of the driving forces behind my guitar lessons was the desire to play “The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams. I learned it right away and now I play the heck out of that song.

    And if Dar Williams invited me play with her, I’d wet myself.

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