Three Nights at the Celebrity Theater

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Three Nights at the Celebrity Theater

In the past year Barbara and I have been to the Celebrity Theater downtown f or three concerts.  The first was Franki Valli, the second Tony Bennett, the third Johnny Mathis

Frank Valli, born  Francesco Stephen Castelluccio, May 3, 1934, became known as the lead singer of the Four Seasons.  His hits include Sherry, Big Girls Don=t Cry and Walk Like a Man.  He had a number one hit before the Beatles, during the Beatles, and at least after the Beatles.  All in all, he has had 29 hits in the top forty.  In recent years he has become even more well-known with the play Jersey Boys.

He tours constantly, and here is a free tip, the big take home message from this sermon.  He will be in Phx at the Celebrity Theater on January 19 & 20, 2019.  Tickets go fast.  Let those who have ears, let them hear.

Valli was interviewed a couple of years ago  ago by Dan Rather for ABC tv.  Rather said, AYou=ve still touring….you=ve sold over  100 million record.  You surely don=t need the money.  Your still touring.  Why are you doing it?

Valli: If I didn=t tour  I don=t know what I would do with myself.  I=ve tried to cut down my schedule a few times.  Take some time off.  I go crazy. @

The second concert was Tony Bennett.  He was born in Queens, N.Y. as Anthony Dominic Benedetto, Tony Bennett , was born in Queens, N.Y. on August 3, 1926.  I=ll spare you the math; he=ll be 92 next month. Drafted into the US Army in November, 1944 and spirited to the front.  He fought with he 263 rd infantry division into Germany, which he called Amy front row seat in hell.@  His unit was responsible for the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp near Landsberg, Germany.  As a result of what he experienced in the war, he became a pacifist.  What great songs he sings: rough his songs, AFly Me to the Moon,@ AThe Very Thought of You,@ and of course his standard, AI left my heart in San Francisco.@   In addition to that fabulous voice he is quite an accomplished painter.  He sketches or paints every day, and when, on tour, sketches what he sees outside his hotel window.  And he=s still touring.

Barbara reminded me that we attended a Johnny Mathis concert at my college on the night we were engagedB1965Blong ago, and far, far, away.  Johnny Mathis was born in 1935 in Gillmer Texas of all places.  When he was a child his family moved to San Francisco.  He was track and field star and got an athletic scholarship as a high jumper at San Francisco State.  He aspired to be a phys ed teacher.  He was invited for the Olympic Trials in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia but turned it down to go to New York City to make his first recording.  The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1982 he confided in a magazine interview that he was gay.  Today when he isn=t touring he=s an avid golfer, having had several holes in one.  When he was interviewed on a talk show about his career, he said, AI sing.  I can=t do anything else.@  I sing.

I admire these three men for obvious reasons, but for a couple of reasons you may not know.  The three of them are recovering cocaine addicts.  As Robin Williams once quipped, ACocaine is God=s way of telling you are making too much money.@  Having lived in a family of addicts, I know how cunning, baffling, and powerful addiction is, and sadly, how few make it to a life-long sobriety.  So I salute these three stars for an achievement which is greater than all the gold records they have made.

But I also admire them for a living a purposeful life.     All three of these men are involved in a rigorous touring schedule.  Franki Valli, 100 shows this year.  Tony Bennett 3 to 4 shows a month,   Johnny Mathis two shows a month.

And as Franki Valli observed to Dan Rather: AIt=s not for the money.  It=s to keep from going crazy.@

A friend of mine from PPC and I were talking about retirement.  He said that he knows a man at his golf club who plays golf every day.  AWhy so much, golf, Joe?@  He asked.

AIt=s just the way I fill up my time.@

The golf legend Harry Vardon said, ADon=t play too much golf.  Twice a day is plenty.@

A good friend of mine, Bill Forbes,  a Presbyterian minister was diagnosed with a very serious illness ten years ago.  who had just been diagnosed with a very serious illness. He was not expected to live long.  But he didn=t die.  I saw him at General Assembly.  He had a wicked sense of humor, he said to me, ADon=t ask.  Yes, I=m still here.@  He wrote us all a letter.

AMy docs are baffled,@ he wrote. AI told them it was the power of prayer, reasonable eating habits, exercise, massage, a little snake oil here and there, and a wicked sense of humor.@ AI didn=t expect to be here to write this letter.  And yet, I am.

AWhat have I learned? And then Bill told usC

Each day is a gift.

The greatest gift we can give to each other is encouragement.

Don=t sweat the small stuff.

Prayer shapes my life as never before.

At the end of his letter the pastor became pastoral. Bill wrote,

A None of us knows how many days we will be granted. As you look in the mirror each day, take time to marvel that you have been created in the image of God [and that you are still here]. Count your blessings. Smile more and frown less. Tell those you love how much you love them. Share yourself abundantlyCgive thanksCkeep a twinkle in your eye . . . and laugh.@

Great advice from a good friend, wonderful pastor, and great guy.

Well, like Bill Forbes there is a day coming, sooner than we want, when we will no longer be on this earth.  But in the meantime we can age with pizzaz,  like Franki Valli, and Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis, and Abraham and Sarah, who reminded us in our scripture reading this mornings that we can launch out with bold new ventures when we are 75 and have babies when we are a hundred.  We can live each day singing our songs, and helping others.  After all ,Yogi Berra said, AIt=s ain=t over, till it=s over.

Categories: Weekly Sermon

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