Mar 2, 2022–If you could speak to any person alive today, who would it be and why would you choose that person?
This question was posed to me at our weekly Table of Knowledge, and I couldn’t answer it. No one else could either.
I posted the question on social media, and responses were unexpected. First off, people kept trying to list non-alive people. Yeah, that would be magnificent if we could visit with anyone in history. But you can’t. When you limit it to living persons, passion falls off dramatically.
If it is someone living, the next question is then why the heck aren’t you talking to them? With the invention of social media, you can reach out to anyone on the planet. They might not respond, but you can try. And if your query is worthy, you might be surprised. I’ve had acknowledgments from people I consider query worthy, including a cartoonist, a scriptwriter for the longest-running show on television, a top comedian, and a sexy actress from the 1970s.
In my PR work, I’ve been fortunate to talk with many of my musical heroes.
Someone said you should never meet your idols, because you will be disappointed. I can’t say that’s happened. Many of those I’ve interviewed were country music stars I grew up listening to. To a person, they were delightful, friendly, and forthcoming during our chats. A few you oldsters might recognize include Larry Gatlin, Mel Tillis, Mickey Gilley, Janie Fricke, Crystal Gayle, Jimmie Webb, and the amazing Roy Clark. In fact, I had a hard time getting Ray Price and Michael Martin Murphey to hang up, and I interviewed Murphey three times.
Amazingly, for every one of those interviews I always had at least one question I had wanted to ask them for years. That’s important. Because the old joke is that if we ever do get to talk with the dolphins, what the heck are you going to say to them.
Several people said they’d love to talk with Jesus, who, they all reminded me, is alive. I have to wonder, what would you say to Jesus? What would you talk about that he didn’t pretty much already cover in a very popular book? But I understand the appeal of breaking bread with the Son of Man on the patio at Chipotle’s.
But what you discuss often doesn’t matter. People just want to be in the presence of someone the world deems “famous.” Maybe it would change the equation if we just thought of the famous as nice people who everyone happens to know about.
Fame is the key word. You could probably stop any random person on the street and glean as much insight from the visit as you would interviewing an international news correspondent.
But there is a compulsion that draws us to the famous. Exhibit One: insisting on getting their autograph or taking a picture with them.
I’ve never understood the point of taking a selfie with someone everyone knows. The only selfie I took was with Ronnie Milsap, and he was the one that insisted I do it, which is hilarious in its irony when you think about it.
Maybe, instead of seeking out people who are famous, our time would be better spent finding greatness in people we already know.