This is a story about listening to your intuition, or about being bold, or about saying, “Are you Langhorne Slim?” In any case, this is a story.
Just last week, I was almost famous. Not almost famous like Kate Hudson was, but almost famous in that way that you are when the chance arises to pocket a really cool dinner party story and turns into an almost because you let it pass you by. I blame Ginny…no, I’d better go ahead and blame myself.
We went to a show, as my friend Ginny and I are prone to doing. We both moved to Birmingham after graduation, and we’re both into things like listening to good music and listening to good music live, so we brave the hours of standing in small spaces packed with people, those who make you feel only a smidgeon as cool as them, and those who have eaten tuna for dinner and are sharing this information with you via wafts of air from their directions. We get our wristbands, and we get excited, and we belt out the songs we know, and we move to the music, and we love it. There something about live music that makes you…well, it makes you want to dance.
These things usually start with an exclamatory text message weeks in advance: “DID YOU KNOW [THIS BAND YOU AND I LIKE] IS COMING TO [SMALL VENUE WITH SWEATY PEOPLE]?” Then, each week, we send hype text messages, just to remind each other that “[NIGHT OF CONCERT] IS IN [NUMBER] OF [WEEKS OR DAYS, IT JUST DEPENDS]. I AM SO EXCITED!” Then, come show day, we casually ask our coworkers, “What are you doing tonight? Eating spaghetti? That sounds great. Oh, me? I’m going to [Band you may or may not have heard of] tonight.” It’s all in good fun.
I first found out about Langhorne Slim and the Law a couple of years ago from a blog that I love. I did what I do with much of the music I’ve loved—I fell hard and fast and deep, lost in the melody of a man called Langhorne before I even knew what had happened. If I remember correctly, the days were easing into summer, and it was a happy time. Langhorne’s songs and the sunshine seemed a good pair, and I listened in the morning and in the afternoon and in the evenings, too. I emailed his songs to my friends and posted them on Twitter and danced around my living room when my favorite ones came on. And then, like some love affairs do, the passion faded, and we realized it had been a fling (albeit one of which I’m still fond). And all along, Mr. Slim felt like a delicious secret, a pie I’d stumbled upon and been able to eat all by myself. He was all mine, and these songs were mine, and the moments they flew me to—those moments were mine, too. So when I read that Langhorne Slim was coming to Birmingham, I began to shriek in my office. “LANGHORNE. SLIM. HERE,” I managed. “What? Is that Chinese? I thought your second language was French,” my boss said.
I texted Ginny and, Ginny being a rather swell lass, agreed to listen to Langhorne Slim and contemplate going to see him with me. A few days later, she sent me a text: “I’m so in!” We put it in our calendars. We hype-texted about it. We showed up last Thursday night.
The crowd wasn’t what you might expect—if you think these shows are packed with hipsters in stripes stroking their beards, then you’d be right, but they also bring out the 45-year-old men who wear Birkenstocks and girls who are decidedly unhipster, though I know we could debate all day about what that means. Anyway, Ginny and I find watching the people intriguing. We point them out to each other and daydream about their lives while the opening guy does his deal (in this particular case, he was about as almost famous as me, but still pretty cool.) Speaking of being almost famous, this is when it happened. I was being pushed around by the crowd, and I bumped into—with all due respect—a rather strange-looking man. His style was something along the lines of hipster cowboy, skinny jeans tucked into cowboy boots and a feather in his hat. I pointed him out to Ginny. “Ginny,” I said, “that’s Langhorne Slim.” She laughed at me. “Maybe!” she said.
But I follow Langhorne Slim on Instagram. I watched the way this man stood in the shadows, laid his weight against the wall, pulled his hat down a little bit. He moved his head in time to the music as if he already knew it. “Ginny,” I said, “if that’s not Langhorne Slim—or a member of The Law—then that’s a really shady guy.” She laughed again and pointed him out to her boyfriend. “Ginny,” I said, feeling pretty sure we should be taking photos with Langhorne right at that moment. “That has to be him.” But our eyes drifted from the feathered hat, and we started talking about someone else. By the time I turned my attention back, the man in the cowboy boots had slipped out the patio door.
Twenty minutes later, he stepped on stage and played the song that I listened to when I packed up my college apartment to move away.