Seeing Jack White perform live, magically, with a pick and a guitar, delivering stories via his raspy, delicious voice; Led Zeppelin playing their classics on a London stage 40 years after their first album was recorded: These are performances that stick to the soul, even after the bows have been taken and the crowds file out. A Sam Harris show is a third example of such powerful theatrical events.
- IMAGE COURTESY OF SAM HARRIS
- CONSTANTLY EMOTING : Back by popular demand—literally—is the edgy, luminous Sam Harris. Listed on numerous “Top 100 Records of All Time” lists, Harris enjoys a successful recording career, with Broadway, classic standards, pop, and rock albums.
A complex, accomplished singer/songwriter/actor/comedian, Harris is passionate and his music is the canvas on which that passion is painted. Freedom, unrequited love, politics, and a love song from one man to another are themes explored on his latest album, Free, a pop rock potpourri.
A persona that resonates on stage and off, and the ability to combine straight talk and music, have transported Harris to such diverse showplaces as Jewish Temples and Oprah’s television program, and even though he currently isn’t on tour, he will appear in San Luis Obispo a second time because, well, SLO wants him back.
In the eight months since his appearance at the PAC, he has become a father to infant Cooper Atticus. “His name comes from my favorite character in all of literature, Atticus Finch, who is a noble man. We’ve assigned him a name with responsibility attached.”
But freedom is always on his mind.
“Free contains mostly original material, I wrote the lion’s share of it, with several people (Todd Schroeder and brother and songwriter Matt Harris to name two). I realized that ; the other songs were definitions of freedom and representing the freedom that I have at this point now in my life and in my career—to speak openly about my political and philosophical beliefs. Freedom was the theme that tied everything together.”
Whether discussing the upcoming election, standing up for truth, or standing up for one’s self, Harris defies expectations. But he doesn’t take it so seriously that he can’t make the audience giggle and bounce throughout ; or weep during a soul-scorching version of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me.
A self-proclaimed lyric freak, he explains his view on his signature piece, Raitt’s song: “If you took away the music, just saying it would be so powerful.” When asked what or who Harris was thinking about when he recorded it, in one take, tears were rolling down his cheeks, as he simply states, “No. And I’ll tell you why: It changes all of the time.”
Just like his hopes for son Cooper, he wants his fans to be positively provoked as well. “When I see a piece of theater, I want to laugh, cry, think ; I want to experience a collection of emotions. There is a power when strangers meet and have a common experience ; it is so valuable. We need to laugh, cry ; with people. And you find that experience in the theater.”
On Oct. 4, Harris’s focused show will teach;and allow the audience to let go. “I will perform songs from Free, in addition to my signature songs. I don’t get tired of performing those because a good song always changes for me. Over The Rainbow, Bridge Over Troubled Water; I get to reinvestigate them all the time.”
One SLO fan raved about Harris, “From the moment Sam was onstage, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I laughed so hard my eyes and mouth were sore. I cried. And I felt his tremendous, hopeful, and beautiful energy. I was blown away by his performance. On a funny note, two ladies, three glasses of wine deep sitting next to me, asked if I was Sam’s sister ; they were convinced we were related because of my obvious reaction to his performance.”
He will make you love him
His total ease on stage, his dry sense of humor, his tear-jerking rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me: Sam Harris’ electrifying stage performance will cure whatever ails you. He will make you laugh, cry, and give you an experience so intimate and visceral that you’d be hard pressed to find anything like it on the Central Coast. Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. in the Spanos Theatre. A reception and album signing with Harris will take place after the show. $38. Info: 756-2787, 1-888-233-ARTS, calpolyarts.org, samharris.com, and www.samtube.com
Christy Heron hearts Jack White. Send her a raconteur at email@example.com.