It is amazing to sometimes to see how the spirit moves between those who let it. Got a call out of the blue today from my good friend Bobby Rush. A legend in the music business for over 50 years, he and I first met when I did an extensive article on him “Life Lessons from a Blues Legend” that you can read on my website neoblaqness.com.
I guess the thing that makes the friendship we have so special is that he somehow knows when to call. Just off of a flight from an overseas tour, or having just walked off stage from a long concert night, or during a studio break, he calls just to encourage me in what I am doing. Not in a fatherly way, but as a friend who knows the path quite well.
I’ve never had that before. I am usually the one knowing exactly when to call and encourage. Most people think that because of the brain power I have been blessed with, that they have nothing to offer me. Somehow between me and my big words and Bobby with his folksy Mississippi plain-spokenness, we always understand each other. I respect his history. He constantly and proudly reminds me of my destiny as we have both been the rebels of our time in our own way.
Bobby reminded me today by saying “you got the gift to take the small words I know and make them beautiful in a way that people will listen and understand. And you got the heart and respect to do it right. That is why I check on you. I ain’t want nuthin. Just seeing how you was.”
When I was in college, I remember being assigned as a personal assistant to the late black renaissance author James Baldwin and to former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Out of all the students on campus, here I was, a freshman, assigned to accompany dignitaries that came to visit.
After one convocation on campus, I was standing in a very long line with the girl I was dating. The line extended outside of the building as we waited to get into a banquet room to eat. She said “I am really not sure if I am the one to go where you are going. You keep some pretty big company.” Of course I reminded her of where I came from and the lessons I learned from being poor and coming from a humble family. I asked her why would she even say that?
Just then it started to drizzle and people were getting wet and the line wasn’t moving. After a few moments I excused myself and asked her to keep our place. I went inside and announced to the crowd that they needed to snake the line so that we could get more people into the building and proceeded to direct everyone until the whole crowd was inside. When she walked in and saw what I did, she looked at me as I took my place back beside her and said “That’s why”. And she left. She actually left. After several unanswered calls she finally said she felt she couldn’t live up to where I was going. I have heard that echo more than once from other voices. I have never known exactly what that means. But I am thankful for friends like Bobby who stand by me where I am right now. -Neo Blaqness