I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
December 20, 2022
Every December since 2005, famed Nashville pianist Jen Gunderman (and by ‘famed’ I mean she just played with Brandi Carlile on SNL) and her friends have played the entire Charlie Brown Christmas album in concert. It’s one of my favorite holiday events, and I was lucky enough to get to go with some of my friends last Friday night. With fun companions and talented musicians playing what just might be the best Christmas album ever made, what could possibly go wrong?
Heh. You realize whose blog you’re reading, right?
Things started out smoothly enough. As the sounds of Vince Guaraldi’s version of ‘O Tannenbaum’ filled the room, I felt the spirit of Christmas wrap itself around me with all the nostalgic scratchiness of an orange and brown crocheted afghan. Even the people talking loudly behind us (Californians, no doubt) couldn’t harsh my vibe; I was firmly in the Peanuts zone and no one was going to take me out of it until the final strains of ‘The Christmas Song’ faded into nothingness approximately one hour and 23 minutes later.
In this way, time passed. The musicians expertly jammed. The audience responded with warmth and enthusiasm. This concert, I assured myself delightedly, couldn’t get any better.
And then it did.
“It’s time for the audience participation portion of the show,” Jen announced. Immediately, I perked up.
“I’m asking some volunteers to come up on stage to help us out with ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing,'” she continued, “not the way adults would sing it, but the way the kids did in the Charlie Brown Christmas special, kind of off-key and maybe with a bit of a cold.”
Y’all? I didn’t even hesitate. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever been better prepared for a moment in the spotlight. I’ve been loo loo loo’ing that song for decades now, and you’d better believe I know a chance to shine when I see one. I practically threw my coat and purse at my friend and trotted right up to the stage like it was my birthright or something.
As I made my way up the steps, I was a little surprised that only a few people were joining me. The place, after all, was packed and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — Yet only six others were headed onto the stage, and they all seemed to… know each other. “You can stand here,” one of them told me, smiling in the way you might smile at your senile great aunt as she shamelessly flirts with your husband at your grandmother’s funeral. There wasn’t time for processing why that smile was directed at me, though, because Jen was launching into the opening bars of the song and it was go time.
As you can see, I seized the moment and I loo’ed my heart out. I loo’ed like I had never loo’ed before. I’m surprised I wasn’t offered a recording contract afterward, to be honest, because I really don’t think anyone could have possibly outloo’ed me on that particular night. It was truly loo-tiful. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)
And then, all too soon, the song ended and it was time for me to rejoin the audience. People congratulated me as I made my way back through the crowd and I modestly accepted their praise with a few “It was nothing”s and “Oh, anyone could have done it”s. But I knew I’d killed it. And I suspected Jen Gunderman might be giving me a call later to ask if I might be willing to loo for her on an upcoming album.
And that was that…
…At least until the next morning, when I realized my friend had captured the moment on video. As I watched it, I noticed once again that there were only six other people on stage. And then I remembered how they’d all seemed to know each other, and how they’d felt compelled to ‘find me a spot’ to sing with them.
And then it occurred to me that Jen maybe hadn’t said “I’m asking some volunteers to come up on stage.” Perhaps she actually said “I’ve asked some volunteers to come up on stage.” Perhaps she had asked a few of her friends to come up on stage, friends who’d clearly practiced together and also worn coordinating Christmas outfits, now that I thought about it.
And really, what more is there to say at this point? I think in this case, one picture pretty much sums it all up.
Oh God. God help me.
“At least you got to sing on stage with Jen Gunderman,” my friend pointed out helpfully when we rehashed that moment, after he finished cry-laughing for a good five minutes.
Yep. There’s that.
So this Christmas, if you find that you’ve burned the candy cane cookies or bought the wrong Playstation bundle or had a little too much egg nog and called your boss an asshat at the company party or been the victim of one of a thousand other things that can and do go wrong during the holiday season, I want you to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and think of me up there on stage where I don’t belong, absolutely humiliating myself with great enthusiasm in front of a whole bunch of people.
And I hope it makes you feel a little bit better.