by Stephanie Roush
Life is timing. If the Beatles hadn’t done their stint Hamburg they may never have met Brian Epstein. If Miles Davis hadn’t met Betty Davis he might have never been introduced to Jimi Hendrix or Sly Stone at such a pivotal point in his career. This is all to say that maybe at a different juncture in my life I wouldn’t have become as obsessed as I did with Kevin Morby. But, I did. And not only did I fall in love with his beautiful, sometimes grungy, often orchestral version of rock, but I kind of fell in love with Kevin Morby, the living, breathing human musician, as well (or at least the idea of him).
I had been listening to Kevin since his 2012 album Harlem River, a beautiful homage to New York City. This past spring, I went to see Kevin perform at Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan a few weeks before the release of his third LP, City Music. As Kevin played a few new tracks off the new album I could feel the roots of obsession taking hold.
City Music was an album that came to me at the precise moment I needed it. I listened to it when I woke up, when I walked to the subway on my commute, on the L train, on the 6 train, in the elevator in my office building. If I had a spare 6 minutes and 43 seconds you can bet I was putting my headphones on and listening to the album’s title track, “City Music.” Kevin’s music became a habit, a grounding force, a precursor.
Naturally, I bought tickets to see his show while I was home in Seattle in August. Naturally, I hatched a plan for how I was going to meet him at the show, the man in (and of) my dreams. I diligently studied his Instagram. His Instagram bio is two lyrics from two songs I love: “Blue Driver” by Vetiver and “Two Girls” by Townes van Zandt. While I was still crafting my masterplan, fate intervened.
I was sitting in the kitchen of my parents’ home in Seattle when my sister started shrieking. “Kevin Morby and his band need eclipse glasses! This is your in!” I whipped out my phone and watched his Instagram story, and sure enough, Kevin needed my help. Luckily, the couple staying in the Airbnb apartment above our garage had bought 50 pairs, so this really was my chance. I immediately messaged him back “I have a bunch! Happy to bring you seven. Seeing your show tonight!”
Next message, “Also, I really like that Townes van Zandt lyric in your bio.”
His response: “Amazing.”
“Mom, message the Airbnb peeps, we need seven more pairs of eclipse glasses.”
In my elated state, I could barely hear my mom’s response. She was being drowned out by the hum of my excitement. Yet, something in her tone of voice gave me pause.
“Steph, they don’t have any more eclipse glasses. They sold them all walking around downtown last night.”
My understanding of the English language momentarily dissolved. I was clearly hearing my mom incorrectly.
I could not, would not, refused to let Kevin down. I had to find eclipse glasses. A preemptory Google search informed me that they were sold-out everywhere in Seattle. Not a single retail store had a single pair left. I was f***ed.
So, I did what anyone in the twenty first century who needs something immediately that is sold out everywhere does, I took to Craigslist. Eclipse glasses were going for $50 per pair on Craigslist. I was so f***ed. So, I did what I do best: argue with people over email about the price of something invaluable.
37 emails later I was driving 45 minutes to meet a man with a truck parked in a Target parking lot who had “more eclipse glasses than he knew what to do with.” I had talked him down from $35 per pair to $15. Kevin was paying me back, but I was hell bent on getting him the best deal possible.
I had the glasses! They felt almost hot with possibility on the passenger seat driving home from the Target parking lot. My golden tickets. It was all happening. I was elated, glistening with anticipation as I drove home Kevin’s seven pairs of eclipse glasses listening to Harlem River. It all felt a little absurd, but in the best way possible.
I went to Kevin’s show that night in Seattle with my parents, my sister and a college friend. Near the end of the show Kevin asked the audience, “so which one of you brought us the eclipse glasses?” I made a noise somewhere between a shout and squeak while my parents pointed at me. All my hard work was paying off.
I had promised Kevin, via Instagram direct message, that I would introduce myself after the show. I planned to stay true to my word. I was emboldened by my moment of public recognition (and my massive crush), thus I walked right up to him, introduced myself and gave him a hug. We had a quick chat about Flannery O’Connor, the eclipse, and Seattle. And then it was over. I walked outside, got into my parents’ car, and we drove home.
Driving away from The Tractor Tavern that night I smiled to myself; it was all worth it.