Danny and the boys arrived late to the nursing home. They were running behind schedule because of traffic on I-65. But they were here, and that’s all that mattered.
And they brought their instruments.
“We’re all waiting for you, Danny,” said the nurse, leading the band toward the rec room.
Residents filled the day-use room, wall to wall. There were dozens of wheelchairs, O2 canisters, and a corral of roller-walkers stabled near the door like Appaloosas on the open range.
Residents had donned their Sunday best. Old men wore ballcaps with KOREA and VIETNAM embroidered on the fronts. Old ladies sported oversized tennis shoes and hairdos which hadn’t changed since the Johnson administration. Everyone’s hearing aids were cranked up.
The musicians set up near the spinet piano. Then Danny introduced the band over the mic.
There was Roger on the drums. Roger is no spring zucchini, he’s been playing the skins since Buddy Holly was a household name.
Albert was on double bass. I asked how long Albert has been playing the upright. His only
response was, “I have underpants that are older than you.”
And of course, there’s Danny, playing his collector’s item candy-apple-red Country Gentleman guitar, which is worth about as much as an amphibious aircraft carrier. Danny’s mother bought him this guitar in 1960. “My mom gave me this guitar for my thirteenth birthday,” he said.
The band opened with a few easy numbers. Just the classics. “Summertime,” by Gershwin. That always gets the collective heart rate up. Then “Fly Me to the Moon,” the older crowd loves that one.
One man in the front row became so excited that he began to shout, “I have to pee!” Whereupon the rowdy stood and attempted to demonstrate this for his fans just before the nurse escorted him from the room.
The band followed this with “You’re Not Mine Anymore,” by Willie Nelson. A song which debuted in 1954,…