Today, I’m singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” by Elvis Presley when I hear a loud booming voice getting closer to me.
The acoustics are very good where Elvis keeps his motorcycles and recreational vehicles, so as he’s walking toward me, a large, looming figure appears in front of me singing in a voice that any of the Norse gods or Kings would be proud to call a descendant.
I lingered on the chorus a little longer to give this big guy plenty of time for the finale.
When we finished, I put down my guitar and extended my hand.
“Thank you for singing with me,” I said.
“My pleasure,” he said.
He told me his name was Tommy and that he was from Sweden. The next exchange caught me by suprise but delighted me.
“Do you do any Elvis gospel?” he asked.
“Why, yes. Why, yes, I do.”
He then launches into an explanation of the song that he’s wanting me to sing.
“Do you know No. 11 in the hymnal in Sweden?” he asked to a puzzled look on my face. If my face could have responded, it would have said, “I used to know it, but it’s been like forever.”
Of course, the choices became narrower when he began to explain that the hymn he was talking about was “written by a Swedish priest.”
Right off, I knew that he was talking about “How Great Thou Art.” Every song has a wonderful backstory.
He asked if I knew it and I offered to play it and sing with him.
So, without any rehearsal, I pitched the key of G and this gentleman and I started singing “How Great Thou Art"-- he the lead, I the harmony.
A crowd soon gathered and we finished the lyrics “How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art” in rousing fashion. Thuderous applause ensued and I turned to Tommy and gave him a big hug and a hand shake.
We talked for a little bit. I met his wife and his traveling companions who had come for the Elvis experience.
As he’s walking away, people continue to congratulate him on the impromptu performance.
I’m thinking how fortunate the crowd is to have just experienced something that we all should give a chance: Spontaneous happiness expressed in art form.
As he bids me goodbye, I’m thinking how fortunate the world is to have a guy like Tommy from Sweden in it. He also happens to be a great Elvis impersonator. Who would have known?
We need more people who sing, as the country artist Kathy Mattea said, “like you don’t need the money; love like you’ll never get hurt.” And by all means, “dance, like nobody’s watching.”
Thank you, Tommy. You're my hero.