IN THE PRESENCES OF GREATNESS
Below you will find something I wrote in 2011. This past week in an old record shop I picked up an old album of Thornhill and then a bit later saw Lou Graham. Reminded me of this writing.
IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS
Some folks just don’t have a clue.
Claude Thornhill – my bet is not one of you reading this knows who he was. Lou Graham well, maybe a few.
Thornhill was from my home area, Terre Haute, Indiana, and he went to Garfield High School; same school my wife graduated from, but long before she did. People in music circles from the 40s’ and 50s’ knew who Thornhill was: a songwriter, composer and well known in the big band era. He continued touring and playing well into the 1960s’ and wrote the famous composition, “Snowfall.”
Thornhill would often come back home to Terre Haute to visit relatives. When home, he would go to this particular piano bar and just sit down and play, especially in the evenings. Practically no one who came in there knew who he was. One night Thornhill sat playing some of his own famous compositions. As a customer was leaving he said to the bartender, “Hey, that guy is pretty good, but he’s never gonna be famous, and certainly not by playin’ in here.”
I walked up to Lou, we exchanged small conversation and I said to him, “I wonder how many folks here today know that a former US Open Champion is playing?” He smiled and said, “None, and, better still, if they did, most would not care.”
I watched as Graham and his group hit their tee shots and left the tee. There had been three locals waiting to hit after Graham’s group. I heard one of them say to one of his buddies, “That old guy hit it pretty good, but I bet you could out drive anytime you wanted.”
You know, some folks don’t know who is playing piano in their hometown, or playing golf on their home course; and as Lou said, “If they did, most would not care.”
Some folks can be in the presence of those who have had great accomplishments and not have a clue who they really are. Sadly it can be their loss.
September 3, 2011