There I was, crying in the corner of the magnificent music venue, S.P.A.C.E., up in Evanston, Illinois.
I was not in tears because of anxiety or fear. I was not in tears because someone had hurt me, or hurt someone close to me. I also was not in tears because of joy or overwhelming happiness. I was in tears because of a simple line in a "tongue in cheek" song from Will Hoge.
Jesus Came Down to Tennessee, is a song about Jesus coming down to Earth and seeing what a mess we have made of the planet. The song makes commentary on, among other things, having children out of wedlock, homosexuality and the ability of humans to correct the poverty, greed and hatred that has come to be sensationalized in modern times. But it was not any of those particular "hot button" issues that struck me in the song, no, it was quite a different and more basic emotion.
"What part of love your neighbor, is so hard to understand?"
That is the line. It hits hard in so many ways. The first time I heard it, I was sitting in the Stardust Theater of the Norweigan Pearl on The Rock Boat 16. I was only a handful of hours removed from being personally attacked and threatened by the very people that hosted the cruise. I was a couple of days removed from finding out that several individuals had gone out of their way to actively promote a "movement" against me, all because I desired to play for some of my friends, and support my art.
The reaction I had in that Theater, after those events, was not dissimilar from what occurred at S.P.A.C.E. The question posed by Will in his tune, is so simplisticially complex. How many of all the problems around the world could be solved by answering that question? What would happen if we accepted that, as humans, with severely different circumstances, ecosystems, markets, weather, religions, races and creeds, that we are all in this together. That what makes us different, is what makes us necessary. That what you might not be able to muster in yourself, you might find in your neighbor.
For me, the sentiment hit me like Ali uppercut to the chin ... how, on this Boat, with a collection of musicians, singing songs about love, togetherness and the lessons of life, could people still be missing the simple instruction to love your neighbor?
I came to a realization for myself at that very moment. I am very fortunate. I am fortunate to have fans and friends that truly support me. They know me as a person. They know how much I care about each and every one of them. They know how important it is to me, to live with integrity and honesty. They not only listen to, and enjoy my songs, they feel them, they respond to them, and they are impacted by them. It was at that moment, that I realized that there is an art to supporting an artist.
Yes, some people post photos, tweet, and share videos or funny comments, and each one of those is immediately helpful to the artist and his career. Other peple recognize the talent on a stage, or simply love having high quality entertainment to provide a soundtrack to their party. Then there are the supporters that touch your life as an artist. They befriend you, they maintain a relationship with you, they hug you, they cry with you and they laugh through tears with you. They listen to your song and they feel the pain you had when you first wrote it, or they smile at the hidden meaning behind certain lines.
There simply can never be a thank you big enough for those people. They understand the art of support, and they truly love, just like Will's Jesus would have wanted.