I'm the first to admit it. I didn't buy the tickets because of her music. I bought them because I have had a desire since I first published, The Secrets They Kept for Rita Wilson to read and love my story of a Greek-American family and make it into a movie. My expectation was not that my $12 bar stool seats at Joe's Pub would afford me a face to face moment in which to pitch away. Rather that I was getting closer. I knew a copy of my book had made it to her office. And then there was that twist of fate in which my cousin who produces the Mark and Brian show in LA met her the day she was on their show. So it seemed like the energetically right thing to do.
What I didn't expect was how good she would be. Really good. This is not a vanity act, although I am sure many reviews will want to tell you that. She really does have a great singing voice, not to mention a great stage presence. And the songs that she sang from her new release, AM/FM took me on a trip down memory lane that at times brought tears to my eyes.
You see, not only are Rita and I both of Greek heritage, we are almost the same age. Which made the music she grew up with, the music I grew up with. Granted in those days there were geographic differences. New music did not necessarily break nationally. Disc jockeys on the radio stations had the ability to play what they liked and occasionally "break" new songs. They were not beholden to the computer generated list provided by their program director. Unlike today.
Nevertheless, she was spot on with some of my all time favorites. It was hard not to sing along with her. So I mouthed the words I knew by heart from years of practice. Better anyway as singing is not one of my talents.
I was moved. The music and her performance transported me in that way the music of one's younger days has the ability to. To another time and place. I listened as my own personal series of film clips of first loves, broken hearts, dreams, possibility, laughter, right turns and wrong turns flashed by. Of a time when doing nothing but getting lost in the lyrics of a song was an activity that did not include a mobile device and headset.
There was something else that also moved me. Rita Wilson demonstrated on stage what happens when you figure out a way to do that thing you always wanted to. That passion that you kept locked away for whatever your reasons until you couldn't anymore. Until you had to figure out a way to make that happen. She exuded happiness. The kind that makes you look younger than your years. The kind that grounds you.
I know that feeling. For me it has been writing.
Singing apparently was the one thing she always wanted to do, but never thought she was good enough to do. Until now.
Lucky for us.