I dunno. Sometimes I feel like my cup is full, and I don’t have any more sponge in my head to absorb new music, writing, movies, ANYthing.
But then I spend a Saturday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville with great friends, sitting in the hard wooden pews of that tabernacle, lost and I mean lost in the two hours of joy that is a live episode of Chris Thile’s re-imagined Prairie Home Companion. It was a night to remember, and savor.
Sometimes people will say, “Oh, you had to be there.” And I’ll admit to being taken in by the allure of the Ryman—as I always am. But I think all performers playing at the Ryman bring their A game, and they know it’s a special place. You didn’t have to be there to experience the magic of this show. It’s made for the radio, after all, for listening.
At one point in the show (1:41), Amos Lee sings a breathtaking rendition of Sam Cooke’s 1964 song “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and the crowd does that thing when they just can’t sit still—they stomp their approval with their 4,000 feet on the wooden floor of the Ryman, and it’s an absolute roar, and Chris Thile says to Amos Lee, “Wow—yet another thing to love about the Ryman is when that happens.”
In this episode, you’ll hear music by Prince, Jenny Lewis, Amos Lee, Franz Schubert, Del McCoury, Justin Timberlake, Etta James, Noam Pikelny, John Sebastian, Chris Thile, Aoife O’Donovan, and Joni Mitchell. Don’t know them all? That’s the beautiful thing: Chris Thile threads it all together in such a seamless roll of styles and artists that you take it all in, then spend the next week thinking about Noam Pikelny’s banjo piece as if Noam Pikelny were your best friend.