Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I savored the reading of Andy Williams' memoir


I just finished reading "Moon River and Me," by Andy Williams. Andy's memoir isn't a huge book. It is easy to read, easy to follow, and easy to enjoy. I enjoyed every word. I adore Andy Williams, as mentioned in this previous blog post. I didn't want to start reading this book until it was just the right time. I wanted all to be quiet in the house. There had to be an intermission in my todo list that I wouldn't feel too guilty about later. I wanted to be in the right frame of mind. I wanted lots of available iced tea nearby. I wanted to savor every word. And I did.

I have never really known how to describe my feelings for Andy. I've never liked the term "fan," although I really am a fan. But I can't help but think there is so much more to it than that. I can't say he is my favorite singer, because I love so many singers. Yet if asked, "Who is your favorite singer?" Andy Williams would be the first to come to mind. I can't claim he is my favorite entertainer, because I have only seen him in concert twice, and in person once, so far. Entertained doesn't come close to how he made me feel, yet swooned seems a bit melodramatic. Some wordsmith...I can't even come up with a word to describe how I feel about Andy.

But after reading his book, I realized that the word to describe my feelings for Andy has to be "connected." I feel a kinship to this man.

As I read about his life, I thought about my own. I felt a connection to him that sprang from the pages of his book. Perhaps it was growing up in the Midwest, with similar values, even though we are a generation apart. Perhaps it was having a parent that said you aren't quite good enough, or an unspoken desire to strive to please our fathers.

As I read about Andy's friendship to Bobby Kennedy and the deep loss he felt after Kennedy was killed, I was reminded that my first political awakening occurred when Kennedy was shot. I was just a freshman in high school at the time, and had no political leanings, but I think I became a Democrat that day. I got into a huge fight with a close friend of mine that never healed. Andy was a Republican, but made an exception over his friendship with the Kennedy clan. He voted Democrat in the primary and appeared as a delegate at the convention. It was in Chicago, by the way, where I lived at the time. We were just miles apart on that day.

Of course I never experienced fame and certainly not fortune, but Andy wasn't always so well off. He knew what it was like to struggle. He didn't always have it easy. I've worked hard too. I've been accused of being a workaholic.

After reading his book, I am even more amazed that I met this man -- who performed for royalty and knew everyone famous person I'd ever heard of -- in a grocery store.

I had doubts after my personal meeting with Andy Williams, but they were resolved on page 143. I was bothered when I met him. I felt such warm feelings about this man but he seemed oddly cold. I understood after reading about Andy's relationship with Bing Crosby.

Andy said he had seen a glimpse of the real Bing Crosby, even if only for a few minutes. But then he described what happened when some network executives entered the room.

"Bing slipped back into his normal role; like so many big stars he had developed an affable but rather distant public manner, one that kept all but the most persistent Bing worshipers at arm's length."

Now I know that the Andy Williams I met was the same one he described Bing Crosby to be, affable but rather distant. I'm thinking that this summer, I'd like to go to one of his shows in Branson. Perhaps one day I can meet the real Andy Williams. If not, I feel that by reading his book, I know him just a little better. I still feel the connection and the feelings are still warm.