MAY 1 2016
First, a BIG DISCLAIMER: This is not a review. It is not comprehensive, and there’s no setlist. I remember most of this show, but not all, and in bits and pieces. And it’s not owing to the years that have passed since then.
I never did remember everything, because I was just overwhelmed and immersed in the moment. It’s why I’ve waited so long to write this, I didn’t know how to tell it when I don’t remember every detail.
So I’m going to say what I do remember, and it will likely be out of order. I don’t want to misquote anyone, so if I don’t remember something word for word, I’ll paraphrase in non-quote form. If you are looking for a very detailed, accurate account, there are others out there in the internet world. I debated on reading them to refresh my own memory, but this is my story. I don’t want to accidentally borrow others’ words, or their experience.
I’ll also forewarn you, it’s a long one.
With that said, on with the show!
Soon, we were ushered into the lovely Glass Cactus nightclub, where rows of seats had been set up on the floor and on a raised area at the back, near a bar. Event staff were directing people to fill the rows in order, and I figured I would wind up pretty far off to one side.
Fourth row centre on the aisle. Basically, what I would’ve chosen if I could’ve.
As people filed in around me, I overheard the same general question over and over.
“What even is this, like, how does it work?”
“Why do you think he’s doing this?”
“He never does stuff like this.”
“Is this even legit?” (LOL. I’d had the same thought when I bought it, though it sure seemed legit by now!)
I was also definitely not the furthest-travelled in the audience. The lady beside me was from Austria! She had flown regularly to the US over the years to see the Eagles, and Don solo, and though she’d gotten hung up by the same line of storms that jostled my plane like a bouncy ball, she wouldn’t have missed this for the world.
These actually are my people, I thought. Huge fans shooting their shot to meet their Eagle.
There was a Runaway Tours rep making his way around the crowd, picking people to ask questions. They told everyone to put up their hand if they had something to ask, and it was implied that they’d only be choosing people before the show. I think I halfheartedly raised my hand once or twice—I thought that maybe I’d ask what Don was reading currently, or something tame like that, because I didn’t really have a question and didn’t know what would be allowed—but I wasn’t one of the handful picked.
No matter. As the lights began to dim and my heart sped up, I knew it was enough just to be there.
The show started with a song, and then the lights came back up a bit.
“Welcome to…whatever this is,” Don chuckled. “They told me I’m supposed to talk a lot, which I can do…!”
So the answer to the first crowd question was, he doesn’t know either! This is already worth it, I thought.
“I mean, I don’t know if y’all actually came here to listen to me talk, though.”
Lord knows I did!
He asked us if anyone had travelled there, and a whole lot of cheers went up. So he asked us to yell out where we were from. A man behind me said New Zealand, some people were there from Australia, and lots of people from across the US. He seemed surprised and a bit humbled.
I hollered CANADA a couple of times…and one of the times, he heard me!
“Canada,” he repeated, looking me in the eye and smiling.
I had officially spoken to Don Henley. That counts for the bucket list, right?? I think it counts!!!
“This is the time to come to Texas, the weather is perfect,” Don insisted. “Before it gets too hot.”
It’s 82 degrees and we all got stuck in storms on our way here, Don! I thought, giggling. A glance around the room revealed other unconvinced travellers, as well, but it was beautiful that day, I’ll give him that. He asked if any of us were sticking around in the area for a couple more days, and recommended if we were that we should head out to see his beloved Caddo Lake area. I instantly regretted my early flight the next day.
He did a couple songs, speaking briefly in between. He admitted to being nervous about “whatever this was,” and our questions.
Following a song, early on before the questions began, there was an awkward pause. The lights came up, and he stared at us…and we…stared back at him. There was a giggle from the audience here, a random woo there. He eventually broke out into a nervous, shoulder-shaking laugh.
Rubbing a hand over his face, he said, “I’m as nervous as a…” …something. I didn’t catch the analogy, as it was said in a deep Texan accent I’d never heard from him before.
A couple things I noticed right away. For one, his accent was more pronounced than I had heard it at any show along the line. I loved that; it was because he was home, presumably. He used expressions like “bless his heart,” and my little sometime-southerner soul was so happy. It was a touch of the actual person, not just the artist.
And that’s the other thing. I don’t know how to explain this. But there was no…act. No persona, no mask. From the very beginning of the show, Don seemed so genuine, so…himself. Maybe because he was home, maybe because he himself didn’t know “what this was?”
Whatever it was, it was wonderful. That was already worth the price of admission.
He jokingly asked us to “go easy on him,” and also promised to answer our questions as best he could. Nothing was technically off limits, but also, don’t bother asking the meaning behind “Hotel California” because we still wouldn’t get it!
He also mentioned that he hoped no one would be mad at him for not remembering them from random shows over the years, which is apparently a thing he gets asked often. This became a running joke, “I saw you in 1978, do you remember me?” “Nope!”
At one point, he asked with a grin, “So how was my party last night?” Cheers went up, and I think I cheered too even though I wasn’t there because, well, it looked like a good party.
“I wanted to go, but I had another engagement, I was singing at my daughter’s school, actually.”
I KNEW IT!!! My inner fangirl, that optimistically checked out the party “to see if he was there,” felt so vindicated!!
He said he was going to do one more song first and then he’d be “ready to take some questions,” he promised.
After the song, he took a deep breath. “Okay,” he sighed, sounding exaggeratedly anxious. “Who’s first?”
A man off to my far right stood up, and turning to look at him I did a double take. He looked for all the world just like Joe Walsh.
I can’t possibly begin to quote what this gentleman said, but he told a story about how he had trouble bonding with his father when he was young. They were opposites, even liked different types of music—one country, one rock.
They bonded over the Eagles.
He eventually went to an Eagles concert with his father, and his dad got emotional. He told him that if he ever had the chance to meet an Eagle, to tell him, thank you. For giving him time with his son.
So that’s what the man came there to do. He thanked Don.
I doubt there was a dry eye in the house. Mine sure were watering.
So were Don’s. He visibly wiped away a tear.
He sincerely thanked the man for his story, and made a light joke about his resemblance to Joe Walsh (it really was uncanny). Don also told him that just before leaving for that show, he’d had a fight with his son.
“Now I’m gonna go home and give him a hug.”
That set the mood for the evening, right there. I was stunned that that type of question—which wasn’t a question—had been picked.
Make no mistake, I was incredibly happy for the man. What an amazing story! I’m so glad they let him tell it.
But now, I really wished I’d put my hand up. My “My Thanksgiving” thing was similar, not a question, just something I’d waited forever to say.
Don took a moment to collect himself. He hadn’t expected anything like that kind of story.
I think he did another song to recover a bit, and then took some more questions, and told some more stories.
He reminisced about going with his father on work trips as a kid, fondly remembering how his dad pronounced “Shreveport” (“Shreesport”) in a heavily exaggerated Texas drawl. Speaking to the audience member from Australia, he mentioned having cousins there. This was no regular Q&A, no DonCon panel discussion—this was a two way conversation between the audience and Don, and it seemed to be because he wanted it to be that way. Sure, the audience was sharing bits of themselves, but so was he.
Another story wound up being about Glenn Frey. Don started speaking about him the way anyone would, relaying a tale about their good friend.
His voice then broke a bit, he stopped speaking, and he had to take a second.
It was heartbreaking. The story was funny and upbeat, and you could see the moment that it hit him that his friend, his brother in arms, was no longer with us.
He collected himself and carried on. But it wasn’t the only time Glenn’s name came up, and it wasn’t the only time he had to collect himself when it did.
Glenn’s loss was so fresh for everyone, and many of us got emotional whenever he was mentioned. I sure did.
Side note, absolutely no one asked anything about Glenn, or about Glenn’s passing. I was so worried somebody would, and so relieved when they didn’t.
He also touched on his own mortality, at one point, assuring us that he works out regularly, takes his vitamins, and drinks green smoothies for breakfast even though he decidedly dislikes them! He has too much to do, he said. He can’t go anywhere yet.
Again. Break my heart. Though I understand that aging and the loss of your peers makes you think more about those things… I struggle hard with loss, because I have been fortunate not to experience much of it. And the mention, the thought, the clear picture that this is something one of my faves thinks about and worries about, affected me.
Please don’t go anywhere, I thought. You’re not allowed.
Another story, somehow, wound up giving us a rundown of his average day. He was explaining that he’s an insomniac, “tries to go to bed at 1am, usually gets to bed at 3,” and a night owl who just reads all kinds of things late at night.
Again. That’s me.
At some point in that story though, after talking about getting up and making his family breakfast, going to the store, going to the gym…he realized he was going down a very, very random road and I don’t think he remembered his own point.
“I’m sorry,” he chuckled, “This is NOT what y’all came for!”
Sure it was. Honestly, I go to a concert to see the songs. I came here to hear the man tell stories. And if the story he wants to tell is about grocery shopping (which was a detailed part of it), then hell, let’s talk about those veggies!
That’s not a random metaphor, by the way. Don is an avid gardener, and also, for some reason, enjoys going to the produce section of the grocery store and picking out fresh veggies. Hanging out with the vegetables at the store. Not a hobby I would’ve guessed for him, but to each their own…!
Somewhere along the line, fairly early on, something happened with the questions.
People raised their hands again.
And Don picked somebody.
“Oh, Don, I have someone over here that has a question,” the Runaway Tours rep interjected.
“That’s okay, we’ll talk to them next,” Don replied.
Don had seemingly gone rogue? The rep made his way to the person Don chose, and the next time he asked who had questions, you best believe my hand shot up so fast.
More questions went by, both personal and musical in nature. Don kept picking people, and the Runaway Tours rep was picking more and more people as well. My hand shot up every time. Don took so much care with peoples’ answers, and was incredibly funny, incredibly down to earth.
At one point, someone asked about his biggest regret.
After pondering that one for a moment, he asked if he could use a professional example instead of a personal one, because he was more comfortable that way. The person agreed, and the answer was, somewhat predictably, that he doesn’t like his recorded version of “Desperado.”
A chorus of “awwws” and “oh nos!” went up from the audience. Quietly, in a regular speaking tone or maybe even lower, I said mostly to myself, “Aww, you’re too hard on yourself!”
“That’s not it,” Don answered, almost absentmindedly responding to my un-mic’d comment, his eyes immediately snapping up to meet mine. “No, it’s just that it was so rushed…”
…..What. Even. Are. The. Acoustics. In. This. Place??? How in the world did he hear that???
Also that’s 2 interactions now. Bucket list double finished!
More questions, more songs, more that my overwhelmed brain could not retain.
A man asked a question about the song “Learn to Be Still.” It went something like this:
“So my question is—“
“Oh no.” Don saw it coming.
“How do you—“
“Don’t say it!”
Don groaned, laughing.
“I wrote the song, because it’s a nice thought, but I’m not GOOD at it!”
Don explained he does have a lot of trouble just relaxing, settling down, being still. Some things that he enjoys, that help, are gardening, fishing, and being outdoors. But it’s something he continues to struggle with.
I most definitely relate. Kooky Coyote, Overthinker Extraordinaire.
Someone asked a question about his charity work, and I learned that in addition to his work with the Walden Woods Foundation and others I was aware of, he also supports the MS Society.
His wife has MS, and my paternal grandmother passed away from it before I was born. I silently thanked him for his work with that, as it’s a cause I try to support as well.
The charity work answer was quite long, and at some point my anxiety kicked in. This must be almost over, I thought. I’m not ready. I love this so much.
Suddenly, the Runaway Tours rep appeared, knelt down beside me.
“You had your hand up, would you like to go next?”
Clearly, at some point, I’d died and gone to heaven. It’s the only explanation. Probably on the plane. The plane went down, didn’t it.
The rep stayed beside me as I tried to collect my thoughts. I had not rehearsed. I had not prepared. I came with no intention of saying what I was about to say.
I’d been dreaming of saying it to Don for over 10 years. But I truly, truly did not think this was going to be the day.
I heard nothing of the rest of the charity answer. As it wound down, the rep asked me if I had used a handheld mic before; I have. He gave me a couple quick pointers on where to hold it—a couple people had blasted poor Don, a little, holding the mic much too close and speaking much too loud—and reminded me to speak clearly, but don’t yell.
The answer was ending. My soul was leaving my body. I shifted my weight to my feet…
And Don said, “I think we’ll do another song now.”
I loudly let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding, and the rep laughed. “Okay,” he said, “I’ll come back and you’ll be the first one after this.”
For some reason, I feel like the song right before me was “The End Of The Innocence.” Thinking back on it, I actually think it was later in the show (I think the order was newer songs first, classics later, and I think it had its own story—something about cornfields, and driving?), but I have no capacity to remember setlists at the best of times, and this was not the best of times! Not for coherent thought, anyway. So, right or wrong, I now associate “The End Of The Innocence” with this moment.
“I need to remember this…”
Even though it’s probably an incorrect association, the lyrics sure fit.
Shortly before the end of the song, the rep returned.
Soul ascended again. Weight to feet again. For the love of God, don’t turn an ankle or something.
“Speak right away,” I was told as a mic landed in my hand, “Before he goes to someone else.”
“Okay, who’s next?” Don looked to my left.
I startled him anyways, a little bit.
“Whoa, hi!” He turned back to find me. From where I was, he was basically straight ahead of me.
“Hi!” I smiled, straightened up a little bit, met his gaze. And faltered.
I’m a ham, I love a mic, I love a spotlight. Many askers had mentioned being nervous, Don himself had mentioned being nervous. Nervous, hah! I would love to have that chance, no time to be nervous!
“Ooh. I wasn’t nervous til I stood up!”
“I know,” Don chuckled. Kind, so, so kind, in tone and in expression. “It’s okay. What’s your name, where’re you from?”
“I’m KC from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, which is about 5 hours north of Toronto.”
“Oh wow. Did you drive?”
“No, I flew, well I drove to Toronto and then I flew from there, so about 10 hours altogether.”
“Ah, okay. Cool.”
“Yeahhh so, uh. So what I wanted to say… My favourite song of yours is ‘My Thanksgiving,’ actually Inside Job is my favourite album of yours as well.”
“Oh, thank you,” he responded, eyes widening a little, sounding a little surprised.
“You’re very welcome, that song, well, it means a lot to me. When I found that song, and that album, I was uh, going through a really…rough time…”
Don took a sip of water. My voice shook and my confidence broke.
Speak plain, a voice inside me admonished. Say what you mean!!!
“Well, I was going through hell, to be perfectly honest.” My tone hardened and my voice dropped about an octave. It was my voice now, not nervous anymore.
Don looked back at me, finished his water, set the bottle down. I had his attention. It felt like there was nobody else in the room now.
“Right around when I found that song, I had lost my job, and I was in the process of losing my apartment because I couldn’t afford it anymore…”
“Ah man,” Don sympathized, shook his head. I could feel he understood.
“Just everything, everything in my life was going wrong. But somewhere in there I got the Inside Job CD…which, I’m actually not sure right now where I got the 20 bucks to get the CD, actually, because I…
Ooh, I’m rambling, that doesn’t matter. Sorry. Nervous again,” I laughed. He chuckled too.
“It’s alright,” he said. Again. Kind. So, so kind.
“Right, so anyways, I listened to it and the first time I ever heard that song, it got to the bridge, the… ‘And have you noticed that an angry man can only get so far, until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be, with the way things are…’”
He was smiling at me as I quoted him, wider and wider as I made my way through the lyric. I hadn’t really thought of having to quote him…to him…that was weird…
“You do it better than I do,” he laughed.
“Thanks, I may have sang it a couple times in my car on the way down!
So uh, that part, the first time I heard that I uh, literally burst into tears, it was a whole thing,” I continued.
“Awww,” Don responded, still smiling.
“It was good though, it was a good reason. That lyric was exactly what I needed to hear, the way I needed to hear it. Nobody had put it that way before. That was what I needed. It was a bit of a catalyst for me, to change my way of thinking and get my life back together. And after that, I tried to, well, live my life according to that lyric. And everything seemed to get a little easier. I got back on track, I got a new job, eventually I went back to school.
And next month, I am moving into a house, that I am gonna own.”
A lady behind me said, “Good for you!”
And a few people applauded.
Me. Applauded me.
Don included. Don. Clapped. Agreed with the lady with a firm “yes.”
“Oh wow, thank you,” I managed to say, stunned.
“So, I wanted to say, thank you, Don, for changing my life—“
“No, you changed your life,” Don interrupted, shaking his head, looking me straight in the eye. “I can’t take credit for that, you changed your life.” People applauded again.
Typing that, I have tears in my eyes.
Standing there, staring into those blue eyes and explaining this thing that I’d waited years to say, I held it together.
“Well, thank you, I guess I did…! But you helped, you have to take a little credit, you made it possible!”
“Yeah, alright, I guess…!”
“You did! So, uh, this really isn’t a question, I didn’t think this through…”
Don laughed that shoulder shaking laugh again.
“So to make it a question I guess uh, if you could talk a little bit about that song and the meaning of it…?”
“Well, first of all, that’s a beautiful story and thank you for sharing it,” Don said, again, wiping his eyes. He said something like “Man, the things you all are telling me…!”
I sat down quickly, handed the mic back to the rep. Had the rep been there the whole time? I have literally no idea.
“Good job,” the rep said with a smile. He took the mic away, and my turn was over.
Don explained that the song is about gratitude, something he was thinking a lot about at the time it was written and still tries to remember to be mindful of to this day, “though he’s not always good at it.” (Me neither.) He mentioned his favourite holiday is Thanksgiving, and he has a lot to be thankful for, because he has been so very lucky in his life.
“Me too,” I said, hand over my heart, smiling as he continued to speak directly to me. Nobody else in the room.
“Does that…did that answer your question, or…?” His expression looked genuinely concerned, caring about answering my question that was haphazardly tacked on to my speech.
“Oh yes,” I nodded, “thank you!”
“Okay. Thank you,” he responded. And on to the next.
How I didn’t cry during the show, I’ll never know. I was in shock.
More songs, more questions, more stories, existing in my mind mostly as disjointed snippets now. But considering what I got to do, can you blame me??
Someone asked about his songwriting process, and he said it almost feels like the song comes to him from some outside force.
“Like, what did we call that in the 70’s, channeling? Is it, is it channeling?” Don looked around through the audience, then met my eyes again.
“Yes, channeling,” I laughed, amazed at my luck for yet another little ‘moment’ with the man but also amused at the odd fortune to be ‘asked’ that particular question. Yes, I read tarot and know what channeling is, can ya tell I’m the resident Witchy Woman?
At the beginning of the show, the famously camera-averse Eagle told us that at some point, “when we got to the song everybody knows,” we’d be able to take our phones out and record, and take some photos.
I’d all but forgotten until…
“Alright, everybody, get your phones out,” Don sighed with a smile. He apologized that cameras at shows bug him, explaining that it makes him feel like a deer in the headlights with all the little camera dots and it’s distracting. But this was a special night, and we were a special audience, so he’d give us this one song.
It was, of course, “Hotel California.”
I recorded video of the first verse, then snapped a few photos. Then, I put my camera back in my purse. I like to take some photos at shows, but I don’t need a million. They’re all the same anyway, usually, and I’m there to experience the show. I also…kinda suck at concert photos, sometimes, and this…was one of those times.
Click to enlarge photos…
When the song reached the instrumental portion, he surveyed the crowd. I was the only one with no camera.
He grinned at me quizzically. Where’s the camera?
I shrugged, smiled. I’m good! I mouthed.
He laughed and shook his head at me, then looked away.
Someone later asked what his three favourite songs of his own were. The answers he gave were “Goodbye to a River”, also off of the Inside Job album…
“‘My Thanksgiving,’” he continued, looking straight at me.
Oh my goodness.
“And probably ‘Waiting in the Weeds,’” from the Eagles’ Long Road out of Eden. I get the feeling this answer likely changes a lot, and these may have just been the songs that he was thinking of in the moment. But they’re three of my favourites, too.
Another person stood up and said he didn’t have a question, but from the stories being told that night, he hoped Don knew how very much he means to people and how much his work has meant in the lives of so many. We all cheered. For a long time. Don looked teary eyed again.
He said that he definitely was realizing that his work has touched a lot of people. And that when he gets discouraged, like when a song won’t get played on the radio or something and he wonders if there’s even a point to making art anymore, he was going to think about this event and remind himself that what he does, matters.
“Like the lady that spoke about ‘My Thanksgiving,’” he said, again finding me in the crowd and nodding towards me, “or the first gentleman who spoke about his dad.”
I was floored. Also, hi, from now on I only respond to “The Lady That Spoke About ‘My Thanksgiving,’” thank you!
There were many more personal stories, beautiful stories, funny moments, so many things. Don got emotional more than once. Same here.
I wish I could remember things in better detail. The more I think about it, the more I recall, but in bits and pieces. Don made an offhand comment about having “a thing about heights,” which in the context I’m assuming he does not like them? Me neither. At one point he got off on a tangent about red wine, which he loves, but can’t have if he has to perform because it wrecks his voice, which he wondered aloud if that constituted an allergy.
Honestly, the random why are we talking about this tangents were my favourite parts.
He talked about being at the grocery store recently and someone walked up to him and said, “Ain’t you some kinda rock star?”
He said no. LOL.
Musician. Not rock star. And he told us, if any of us ever see him out somewhere like a store, come say hi! It’s okay. But just be normal, don’t panic, he’s just a person.
And don’t tell him to take it easy. “It’s not even my song!”
A very tall man stood up and said that once at a show, he stood up during his favourite song, “Heart of the Matter.” Don had looked right at him—“do you remember?” The man teased—and he thought that was cool for just a moment.
Until Don pointed at him and motioned for him to sit down. This cracked Don and his band right up.
“Sorry about that,” Don said, “it’s just that whenever somebody does that I just see everyone behind the person,” and he just wants to make sure that everyone can enjoy the show, basically.
My 5’3” self remains conflicted with this answer. I sure as heck can’t see when tall people stand in front of me, but I’d happily go a whole show without ever putting my butt in a seat if I could!
Don also mentioned his own broken engagements a couple of times. “Heart of the Matter” was about one; another, he mentioned he sang at her funeral not long before.
When I say it got personal, y’all.
One lady said her favourite song was “Talking To The Moon.”
“Ah yes, that song, I only do that song in Texas because I just feel like, I dunno, nobody would understand it anywhere else,” Don explained.
“We’re in Texas,” the lady said encouragingly.
A chorus of “yeah, we’re in Texas!” ensued.
“Oh yeah, I guess we are in Texas! Why didn’t I put that in the set?” Don glanced at his keyboardist. “Can we do it?”
His keyboardist responded by playing the opening chord. And we got the most beautiful, acoustic version of “Talking to the Moon,” a song I had never seen before since, of course, I’d never been to Texas!
I couldn’t even sing along. Something felt just…downright spiritual about this song. You could hear a pin drop in the place as Don perfectly nailed this completely impromptu addition to the set.
I couldn’t see her, but if I was the lady that mentioned it, I’d have cried.
Eventually, the show began to wrap up. Don said, apologetically, that his voice was starting to fade and there was still the photo op to get through. But he made sure to ask if anyone else had any questions, noting that he wanted to make sure he answered anything that people still had for him.
Once he was satisfied that he’d gotten to everyone with a question, he and his band left the stage. The lights came up, and everyone got up to get in line for the photo op.
He’d taken close to 3 hours with us.
In a daze, I floated towards the line. My soul had forgotten to descend back after my question, I think.
I had the presence of mind to text Mr Coyote some sort of all-caps I SPOKE ABOUT MY THANKSGIVING message as I waited in the line.
The fast moving line wrapped around the Glass Cactus, out onto a deck that overlooked Lake Grapevine, beautiful even in the darkness that had descended while we were inside. As I got a little past the halfway point, I popped a mint in my mouth. Overhearing a few others nearby wanting to do the same, I passed the little container up and down the line. As the Girl Guides taught me, be prepared!
We moved quickly; the photo op situation was exactly what I’d figured it would be. Hi—flash—k bye!
Soon, I was at the front of the line. I put my purse down on the table and waited. There was very loud music playing in the venue now.
Don turned towards me. “Okay, who’s next?”
His expression changed, softened, to one of recognition when he saw me.
“Oh I remember you, you asked me a question, you spoke about “My Thanksgiving.” Come on over sweetheart,” he said with a kind smile.
Kind. So kind. I can’t find another word. Kind, and genuine.
“This just finishes off my bucket list right here,” I said brightly as I strode towards him, trying to maximize my 30 seconds with him.
“Really??” I heard Don say as I got up to him. He continued to say something else, but I couldn’t hear. It was so loud, and my hearing is shot from one too many nights in the front row.
“What?” I said.
“Alright, turn towards the camera!” The photographer called.
We turned. I stepped towards Don and he started to put his arm around me, still speaking words I couldn’t hear but he seemed to really want to get across. I put an arm around his back.
He pulled me into an unexpectedly tight side hug as the flash went off.
Assuming that was it, I turned to look at him, his arm still over my shoulders.
“Thank you,” I said.
Again, Don said something to me, a very sincere and caring look in his eyes.
Again, I couldn’t hear.
“I’m so sorry, what?”
“Let’s take one more!” The photographer hollered.
Don was still speaking to me.
“One more picture guys!”
“Uh I think we have to take another photo?” I stammered. I didn’t want to get in trouble. But all I wanted to do was listen to what Don was saying.
We turned to the camera again, and although I was more prepared the second time, the first photo was better.
“Okay, thanks for coming!” The photographer said, and I knew I had to go.
Don’s arm loosened.
I took a step in the exit direction so I wouldn’t get in trouble, then stopped.
“Thank you, so much, for doing this, for everything,” I said softly, the overwhelm catching up to me, placing a hand on Don’s arm so I would keep his attention for just one extra second.
“Thank you for coming,” I finally heard Don say, and his eyes said he meant it.
I walked away feeling like when you wake up with a start, your alarm ripping you out of a perfect dream. (I mean, perfect except for my extremely eloquent photo op conversation that consisted almost entirely of me saying “What??”)
“Don’t forget your stuff!” One of the reps shouted to someone, and I vaguely realized it was me, and my stuff. I laughed, ran back to the table to grab it. Don noticed and grinned.
I sat down on a ledge near the photo op area, just wanting to watch the rest of the photos and spend as much time in this dreamland as I could. Finally, the photos ended, and Don was ushered down a staircase and towards an exit door.
As he was about to go through that door, he looked back up and met my eyes one more time. He smiled, as did I. Then he went through that door and was gone.
“Let me take a long last look, before we say goodbye…”
“All She Wants to Do is Dance” was playing over the PA when he went through the door. A moment after the door shut, the song was wound down mid-verse, and, incredibly, “My Thanksgiving” started playing.
I finally started to tear up.
I grabbed a plate of food, and somehow managed to wolf it down despite the knots in my stomach. It was delicious, and once again a party was just gearing up.
I was in a daze, a daydream turned real. I was unbelievably emotional, for no good reason—everything was absolutely amazing, and wonderful. But for some reason, when it all hit me, it hit me hard.
I had to go, I had to cry, I had to try and explain all of this to Mr Coyote.
I stumbled out, nobody saw me leaving this time. Which was good, I wouldn’t have been able to explain!
I snapped a quick photo of the logo on the floor in lights, then stepped out into the cool, humid Dallas night.
I walked slowly back to the hotel, in another world. I called Mr Coyote and tried to explain everything that had happened, through tears of complete joy, disbelief, triumph, and…utter not-ready-to-go-ness.
That phone call had to be even more disjointed than this post. I was trying to relay everything I just wrote, but it was fresh and I was bawling. Mr Coyote didn’t get it at all at first. He wondered why I was upset.
I wasn’t. I was just…overwhelmed. It was all perfect, so perfect. If I’d written it into a work of fiction I wouldn’t have written it the way it was, because it wouldn’t seem believable.
Eventually, something I said must have made sense, and I remember Mr Coyote saying, rather softly, “Wow. I’m starting to understand why this was such a big deal.”
It was. It just…was.
In case you were wondering, the answer to my earlier, worried question, “what if Don’s an ass?”
That would be a resounding no.
Don was kind, genuine, funny, and surprisingly humble. He took so much care and time with all of us. He seemed to be trying to connect to us, as much as we were to him.
And when this random Coyote in the 4th row stood up and talked about the time she was broke and nearly homeless, he got it. In all his privilege, he still understood.
As I mentioned, I’m a shy person, and I get uncomfortable quickly when I feel I don’t belong.
Yet somehow, I felt comfortable enough to stand up, look Don straight in the eye, and tell him (and like 200 other people) about the very kind of thing that made me nervous in the car service.
I know you can’t draw full conclusions from one meeting, and I’m sure he can be very different at other times, in other circumstances, in other moods. But to me, Don Henley came across as a damn good human whose heart is firmly in the right place.
I made it back to my room, took off my makeup, and just laid down and tried to absorb everything.
It’s been over 5 years. I still haven’t absorbed everything.
This is part 4 of a 5 part series. Click here for the final part!