>Every night I walk through the ship after I finish work, to check on all the other musicians playing around the ship. Carlos, our dark and broody Argentinean lighting man, was standing in one of the bars. This is something unusual for him as he is a big advocate of everyone going straight to sleep after work.
He greets me excitedly.
“The Carpenter, he’s in the piano bar! He’s in there right now!’
Me: “The carpenter, yeah I know him, is he fixing something?”
Him: “You don’t know the Carpenter, he’s in there right now!”
Me: “Yeah, I know the carpenter, why, is he building something this late at night?” I picture construction happening in the piano bar while Collin is singing and playing his heart out.
Him: “No nono, The Carpenter, I recognize him, from the 70’s , you know, The Carpenter, the band?”
I go to the piano bar and I’ll be darned if it isn’t Richard Carpenter sitting there in the front row. Two lifetime cruisers wave me over to their table, and for once I accept their offer for a drink – one of the new ginger cosmopolitans.
Mr Carpenter is sitting right next to the pianist. He is highly involved and calling out requests. “Do you know the verse to the song ‘I’ll be seeing you?,’ ” he asks. I am on the edge of my seat. That’s my favorite verse of all time and I’ve only ever met one other person who knows it. I am always talking about this verse. Collin doesn’t know it. “That’s too bad,” says the Carpenter, I think it’s one of the top ten verses of all time!” Wow. I want to run over and push Collin over and play the verse myself for Mr Carpenter. I remain seated. I did spill my drink, however. Collin keeps playing Burt Bacherach. Mr Carpenter requests “My one and only Love”. Collin doesn’t know it. Oh, oh, I know it!! I am thinking.. Mr Carpenter requests Slow Boat To China. “How does that one go? Asks Collin.. I know that one too, aaaaah!! I think…
Mr Carpenter hums the song. “Why don’t you play it?” Collin gets up, slightly fed up with these oddball requests. So a drunk Mr Carpenter sits right down at the piano to sing and play “Slow Boat to China.”
The second verse comes along. “Out of the briny, with a moon big and shiny, all to my self all alone…” A Frequent Cruiser Lady screams out a correction from the bar. “It’s ‘Melting my heart of Stone!’ ” “You tell him, Suzanne!” I almost yell. Actually I think I did yell it. And I will never forget the day I saw Ms Suzanne correct Richard Carpenter on the lyrics to Slow Boat to China. It just made my night.
The next day at our jazz jam I played all of Mr Carpenter’s requests. I really hope he wasn’t there, as there was a trombone solo I hope everyone missed (including the trombone player).
I dedicated “Slow Boat To China” to Ms Suzanne and she was tickled.