One of the benefits of maintaining this very public forum is having the opportunity to share with you some personal insight into my family. For example, you know that my 6-year-old son deals with some life-long medical issues, and that my 8-year-old daughter plays rock music. Today is one of those days that I get to share some family stuff, this time of the insanely cool variety. So sit back and relax—no employment-law lessons. Today is a straight up rock-and-roll story.
My daughter’s favorite band is the Old 97’s. You can read the whole history here. Sunday night, my wife and I took Norah to see Rhett Miller, the band’s lead singer, perform a solo gig at the Music Box Supper Club. (Side note: if you’re anywhere near Cleveland, do yourself a favor and catch a show at the Music Box. Mike and Colleen built an amazing venue, with great sound, sight lines, and food; they deserve your business). Front row seats for the Hymans.
Norah’s third-grade class is learning how to write personal narratives. Her first story for the school year was all about going to see the Old 97’s in June and meeting Rhett backstage before the show. He was gracious and kind, and clearly made a big impression on a girl of her size.
Norah wanted to give Rhett a copy of her book at Sunday’s show, and asked if I could tweet Rhett to let him know. So I did. I didn’t get any response (nor did I expect one), and tried to temper Norah’s expectations about Rhett remembering her. But it’s hard to temper an 8-year-old.
There we are at the show, our table abutting the front of the stage, Norah no more than three feet from her idol. Did Rhett remember Norah? Of course he did. He spent his first moment talking to the crowd to say a personal hello to her (while making apologies for some of his songs’ more saltier language). And the show went on, Norah in her seat, right in front of Rhett, singing along to all of her Old 97’s favorites.
During the show, Rhett leaned forward and asked Norah if she knows Fireflies. For those who don’t know Rhett’s catalogue, Fireflies is a beautiful (if a tad biting) duet sung with a female. Historically, when Rhett performs this song live he brings someone from the audience up on stage to sing the female part. Needless to say, the song works much better if the person knows it. When Rhett asked Norah if she wanted to sing Fireflies with him, she had to decline, because she didn’t know it nearly well enough to sing it in front of a crowd. Rhett told her to practice, and they would sing together on his next visit to the Music Box.
And the show goes on. After dueting Over the Cliff with opening-act Jon Langford (whom I really enjoyed), Rhett noticed the similarities between that song and the next on his set list, Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On, so much so that he could not get into the song without confusing the two. He needed a “palate cleanser,” as he put it, and asked Norah for a request. She chose The New Kid, the song that started her Old 97’s obsession. Rhett enthusiastically launched into the song.
After finishing the first verse, and watching Norah belt away from her in front of him, Rhett leaned forward and asked if she wanted to come on stage and sing the rest of the song with him.
Rhett put it perfectly after Norah finished — #NailedIt! (Stick around to the end of the video to see Norah give Rhett the copy of her book, and thanks to Marie Popichak for capturing and sharing).
The show ends, and Rhett hands Norah the set list (which you Old 97’s/Rhett fans know is a thing and a big deal). And, sure as you know it, there is Fireflies, with “(NORAH?)” inked in right next to it.
Not only did Rhett remember meeting Norah in June, he pre-planned a duet with her!
Rhett, you are one of a kind. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for caring enough to turn a special night for our little girl into an absolutely unforgettable one. You undeniably rock in all the ways that matter, and represent the hope that one can be both a celebrity and a good person.
We’ll see you next time you’re in town. Norah’s working on Fireflies, just in case.