As an incurable romantic I have to confess to a lifelong love of Johnny Mathis’ music. The first time I heard a Johnny Mathis song was as a young man listening to a late-night show from WPTF in Raleigh called, Our Best to You. I think the song was, Chances Are. I had a big, plastic, red radio under the covers with me, turned down low. The show was all romantic music and I was quickly hooked. At 12-13 years-old I knew that this kind of music had power, I just didn’t know what those feelings were all about.
I do now.
I’ve had people tell me that one of my greatest misconceptions in life is that relationships should be like Johnny Mathis and Carpenters’ songs. I still believe that.
If you love music of any kind you probably have a list in your head of artists you’d like to see in person before you head to the big jukebox in the sky. Mathis has always been in the top 3-5 of my list. He is in Raleigh singing with the North Carolina Symphony tonight and we're going to see him.
At 74, Mathis has lost a little range but none of the smooth, timeless quality that has endeared him to fans for over half-a-century. He’s had a truly interesting life. I knew that he had been a good enough athlete to play basketball with Bill Russell and Casey Jones, and he was a finalist as a high jumper in the Olympic Trials in the ‘50s. I did not know how extraordinarily shy he had been. He commented once that it was all he could do to get on stage and sing.
I’m always impressed by people who understand that they have a gift and are willing to overcome obstacles in order to offer their gift so that others may benefit.
The objective in life is to matter in whatever way you can. It serves no one for you to hide your gifts. We can’t all sing and touch millions like Johnny Mathis, but we can indentify our gift, do what we can to cultivate it, and touch one person; make their life better.
Johnny Mathis has always touched my life in a wonderfully positive way. Tonight, I hope he sings for 8 hours.
Have a big weekend. See you Monday.