My Aunt B.

Yes, even your beloved Aunt B. has an Aunt B. of her very own and I had the great fun of spending the whole evening with her.

First, we went to the library, where we helped my cousin find lots of books about witchcraft. Then, we went to eat at BB King’s, which has a free band at 5 o’clock that is so good we had a big fight at the table about whether it was a CD or a band that we were hearing.

Then, my uncle and the Butcher and my cousins all went back to the hotel to swim and Aunt B. and I went to hear Peter Guralnick, Robert Gordon, and Wil Haygood talk about their experiences writing biographies of famous musicians. It was incredible.

Cowboy Jack Clement sat right in front of us. Bill Friskics-Warren snuck in late and out early, but I saw him leaning against a wall. Peter Cooper MCd the event and he was funny and self-deprecating and stayed out of the way, which was nice. The folks from the Hall of Fame sat behind us and a bunch of people from the committees I’m on at work were there and they were the people from those committees that I really like. Tony Early was there as well, walking back and forth like the whole thing was giving him mad energy–to have that many writers in one room–and I wished, for a second, I could follow him home and see what notes he jotted down about the evening. He was not the only one. There were a bunch of creative writers from the English department there–students and faculty–and I saw a bunch of them scribbling things down.

Two things struck me from the evening.

1. You could not have three more generous authors in one spot. Peter Guralnick made two of the kindest gestures to young writers I’ve ever seen. He explained how he once had to interview someone with another writer and how both of then ended up using the interview in their books, but that you wouldn’t know, based on what each of them took from it, that it was the same interview and he was enthusiastic about the fact that he could not capture every facet of someone and that other writers would come along and help flesh out our understanding. What I took from that was that he thought there was more than enough life in any subject and that young writers should not be afraid that all there is to say on a subject has been said.

2. They love people, the people they’re writing about and the people who tell them things about the people they’re writing about, and people in general. My nieces and nephews, I wish you could have been there, to see this room full of fragile people, each weighed down by his or her hopes and fears and peculiarities, sharing with each other the ways he or she works to understand other people’s hopes and fears and peculiarities, in order to tell a particular, specific story, that somehow ends up being larger than that. It made me proud.

My Aunt B. kept talking the whole way home about how awesome it was that everyone could come together to support each other and to share with each other and to have a good time.

You know, people slag on Nashville, and deservedly so, in some cases. But shit like this, it makes me feel like I’m a part of a rich and fun creative community.

2 thoughts on “My Aunt B.

  1. Okay, I’m officially enormously jealous! Damn! Guralnick and Gordon are two of my favorite writers. I’ve never heard of Haygood. What did he write?

    I watched some mediocre TV last night. You attended an event I would have practically murdered to see.

  2. I didn’t know who Haygood was until I got there, but he ended up being as awesome as the other two. He writes for the Washington Post and wrote a biography about Sammy Davis Jr. He has this way of speaking where he puts his right hand out in front of him and kind of wiggles his fingers, as if he’s going to coax the words he needs from the ether.

    It seems to work.

    Tonight, Gordon and Haygood are reading from their books, so I’m going back. I’m hoping Gordon is going to read from the Muddy Waters biography. I just love that book.

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