It doesn’t matter where you are right now – a part of you is gripped by fear and uncertainty.
We are scared of the harbingers of hate that seemingly spring up out of nowhere to kill because of what someone believes in, or a lifestyle they have. Or maybe they don’t even have a specific reason. They simply choose to champion terror.
There are terms you can say aloud and people automatically know what they represent. Columbine; Virginia Tech; Newtown; Boston Marathon; San Bernardino; Paris; Tel Aviv…
And now Orlando.
In an instant, 49 beautiful lives were taken away by one individual. Dozens more are left to endure unfathomable pain both physically and emotionally. Tragedies like these sadly affirm the reality that our world is indeed fractured.
You may find yourselves lost at this time, unsure of how to act. Your being is filled with equal amounts of anger and grief. You need a way to express what’s inside. Through it all one thing remains true.
Music is universal.
Obviously, music can’t erase heinous incidents threatening to tear countries apart, but it can help bring some solace to those affected and afflicted by horrific events. If you happen to be in Central Park on a summer weekend, do yourself a favor – trek towards the lake and be on the lookout for a barefoot healer with an acoustic guitar serenading a grassy hill’s worth of spectators.
His name is David Ippolito.
For 25 years, Ippolito has been “That Guitar Man from Central Park,” a calming presence who’s like Jim Croce in ripped jeans, Paul Simon with a tan. A man with a heart as big as New York City itself.
As David likes to say during his five-hour long performances, “it’s just us,” by which he means, nothing else matters in that moment except his connection with you and the audience. Like a breezy uncle who lets spontaneity guide his way, David will serenade newly married couples with a first dance, encourage singalongs, tell stories, and– most importantly– stop time for a little while to help make your day that much better.
David will be the first to tell you that it’s OK to cry. In the days after 9-11, as the city struggled to find peace in the aftermath of the collapse of the Twin Towers, he played his guitar in Central Park to help others cope with the overwhelming magnitude of what took place.
Music is the perfect tool to rail against something that shouldn’t be. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young transferred the pain of Kent State into a rallying cry on “Ohio.” Peter Gabriel turned the trials of Apartheid into a somber tune called “Biko.” There are countless songs that are spurred from our collective pain as a way to call for change.
So don’t be scared to show some emotion at his performances if you can catch them. Laugh when he sings “Tom Cruise Scares Me;” harmonize with him on those classic James Taylor, John Denver, Harry Chapin and Beatles tunes. But especially, keep an ear out for what’s arguably his best original song, “Next Time Around.”
The chorus says it all; “One more time around the sun, I hope we find our way.”
Me too, brother.
Dig the column? Reach out to Ira via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ira_kantor