I’m one of those people who like to sit in the back row. I tell myself it’s because the back is where you receive a complete picture of an event; in the back, the speaker looks fuzzy, but the crowd and its reactions are razor-sharp. To me, if you want to fully experience an event, pull up a chair in the back.

 

Sitting up-front makes me nervous; I can’t concentrate on the program or the speaker because I spend too much time wondering what’s happening behind me. I lose the perspective gained from watching others; I’m not really absorbing the what I feel are the important details of the program.

 

So it was interesting to find myself front and center at a recent neighborhood charity event, about as close to the guest entertainer as my little picture on this column is to you right now.

 

The entertainer was Lee Greenwood, best-known for writing and performing the patriotic favorite, “God Bless the ” You’ve probably seen him on TV singing that song and bringing the house down; the TV is as close as I had been to him, too. But at this event, my wife and I were seated close enough to read his concert play list, taped on the stage floor in front of the microphone stand.

 

Greenwood is a surprisingly small guy, not particularly imposing; that’s not something I would have noticed from the back of the ballroom. He had one of those ever-popular day-old beard growths; after examining it up-close for a few songs, I figured he must shave right before bedtime rather than in the morning like the rest of us.

 

On TV, from far away, Greenwood looks like a polished entertainer. But up-close, he seems like a fellow back-bencher. Oh, he did the obligatory juking and dancing on stage, and he told a couple of jokes that I know I’ve heard somewhere else. And although he’s a nationally known singer and songwriter with 23 albums to his credit, from my front-row vantage point, Greenwood seemed uncomfortable. He just looked like a guy who would rather be seated in the back.

 

Or maybe he’s just a guy who would rather write music at home than travel the country 200 days a year to pay the bills.

 

Of course, I came by this knowledge only because I was seated next to the stage, able to focus my attention on Greenwood rather than watching the crowd and its reaction, too.

 

Had I been sitting in the back, as usual, I would have been attending a different concert.

 


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