Friday, May 04, 2007

You May Say I'm A Dreamer.

When I called my friends last night, this is how I delivered the news:

"George Michael is flying me to Seattle on Monday to play and sing 'Imagine' on John Lennon's piano."

How's that for a headline. But it looks like it's true. The plane reservation is set. The hotel is booked. The surprise I hinted at earlier in this blog is happening. I'm so excited and so overwhelmed at the thought of actually doing it, I can barely sit still to type this.

Here's how it went down:

Gabi Clayton called me on Wednesday to tell me that she had some very good news. She sent me the link to and said that they had contacted her to participate in an even to happen this next Tuesday at her house May 8, the anniversary of the death of her son, Bill.

Longtime readers of my diary know that I met Gabi at least 10 years ago over the net after having seen a picture of Bill. I also wrote and recorded a song -- "Will It Always Be Like This" -- about her and the whole incident. (You can find this track in the store over in the right hand column of his blog if you want to hear it and purchase it).

I encouraged her to put his story up in full detail, and this led to her work as an activist and an advocate against hate and violence. So, she told me that when Caroline True from the IMAGINE Piano Peace Project contacted her and said they wanted to put John Lennon's piano in her home to take a photo of it for a souvenir album, Gabi insisted they contact me and allow me to participate.They're bringing the piano to places of violence and taking photos of the IMAGINE piano in these places in order to bring attention to these acts of violence. They will be making a photo book and are also shooting a documentary of the process.

Caroline then looked at this website and immediately called me, told me the story, asked me if I'd like to play "Imagine" on that piano and would I be available to fly to Olympia on Monday.

I was so stunned at the suggestion, I just -- I mean, who could say no to that??

And there's another aspect of this that I've discussed in my diary on more than a few occasions. To me, pianos are living things. I approach a new piano the way a lover might approach a virgin bride. I believe that every piano has a song inside just waiting to get out. Sound is a tangible thing to me. I touch a piano gently and I play the keys as if there's a tender life somewhere inside.

Sounds create songs, for me. For instance, down at Stages Theatre, where I'm writing these days while Jimmy does Zero Hour, the little studio upright is mostly in tune in the upper ranges but way out of tune in the lower ranges. So, I dance around, trying all the different places on the piano looking for a particular "sweet spot" that sounds beautiful. Then, I lean into that sweet spot and I let a new song emerge from that sound.

My point is that pianos, to me, are alive. I feel the same kind of sadness in my soul when I see an abused piano that I feel when I see a great ocean liner going down. I see each piano as a living entity with a song waiting for me to discover.

So, the idea of sitting down at John Lennon's piano. The piano that produced "Imagine" and God knows what other songs. I feel as giddy as a schoolgirl on a first date. Who knows. Maybe I'll even sit there and write a song. Wouldn't that be amazing.



George Michael bought the Lennon piano at an auction in October 2000. Considered the most expensive piece of pop memorabilia, experts have estimated its value at US$8 million to $12 million. Michael and his partner, Kenny Goss, owner of Goss Gallery in Dallas, want to further strengthen the project’s peaceful message, by having “Imagine” performed on the piano at each stop. A video documentary and a published volume of the images are under development, with plans to donate proceeds to charity.

The song, “Imagine,” was first released in 1971 and was already John Lennon’s most famous post-Beatles song, but it took on a whole new life of its own following Lennon’s murder in December 1980. When first released, “Imagine” reached No. 3 in America and No. 6 in Britain but after Lennon’s death in December 1980, the song gave him a posthumous No. 1.

Lennon bought the piano in December 1970, had it delivered to studios at his home in Tittenhurst Park in Berkshire, composed and recorded “Imagine” on it. The piano is a simple upright style instrument, not the white piano which graced the cover of the album. In 1992, it was bought by a private British collector who put it up for auction in October 2000.

Goss Gallery: Founded by Dallas native Kenny Goss, Goss Gallery ( is located at 2500 Cedar Springs Road at Fairmont in Uptown Dallas. Headed by curator/director and internationally recognized art advisor Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi, it is a contemporary art gallery featuring a rotating group of international young as well as established artists and was specifically created to reflect the feel and program of the leading galleries of London, Paris and New York, with regularly scheduled exhibitions of 20th and 21st century contemporary painting and photography.

Creative Director, Caroline True: With a career that has spanned over two decades and crossed the Atlantic, Caroline True is an experienced and accomplished personality in the entertainment industry. Having worked extensively with acclaimed artists George Michael, The Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz and many others, True has served on both the creative and production sides of the music business, demonstrating an artistic talent along with strong business connections. Recently, she has extended her expertise into the art world through her work with George Michael and Kenny Goss on the IMAGINE Piano Peace Project.


Christine Bakke said...


That's EXACTLY what I was imagining!!!!

I am thrilled - absolutely thrilled for you.

Big hugs.

Willy and Wilma said...

That's so great! Talk about something you could never have dreamed of coming true. I know what you mean about pianos. I "rescued" a beautiful upright piano (circa 1870) from a church that was being torn down. We've been lovers ever since.

Steve Schalchlin said...

CJA, I'm so glad you share my love of pianos. I love how you put it, "We've been lovers ever since."

I played a beautiful Grand Piano at the house of some new friends we've made here in Houston. It was glorious to just sit and listen the beauty of the instrument itself. It changes how I sing. And it's nice to let it be about the beautiful sound.