A few days before the much anticipated return of Tift Merritt to Paris, I wanted to take a look back at all the Tift Merritt shows I've attended in the past. I discovered her when she appeared during the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2006. I never thought things would get so interesting. It's been two years since I've seen the adorable singer from North Carolina and this is finally time to write a new chapter of this incredible musical journey with one of the most remarkable singers you'll ever get to hear. Let's gather at La Flèche d'or (Golden arrow) in Paris on February 8th.
Tift Merritt has collected lots of fans over the years on the strength of powerful performances. For me, all it took was to watch Tift singing Stray Paper on the Jay Leno show. I instantly loved her voice and I eventually found out that she could speak French fluently as she likes coming to Paris. What I liked about Tift is, of course, her gorgeous voice, so delicate, so sweet, and the fact that she can handle the tambourine like a mad woman along with her wonderful sngwriting (Good-hearted man, Supposed to make you happy come to mind immediately). Two years passed by and finally came the opportunity to see Tift in concert. Tift spent some time in Paris to write her third album, which was a clear departure from the sound she played before. This new album, her third at the time would be more intimate, more personal. As soon as the tour dates appeared, I had targeted the London and Paris shows.
After a sunny day during Spring '08 in London, I finally attended my first ever Tfit Merritt show in a very little pub in Camden. Tift played on a very tiny stage and even though the conditions weren't very good, she was all I hoped for : gentle, talented and captivating. After her performance, at some point, she turned towards me and had that look of surprise on her face but I didn't understand why because I hadn't met her before. The thing is that I had put on a Tift Merritt T-shirt and I completely forgot about it, hence the big smile on her face, that was quite a good start ! Then Tift really got fired up when I told her that I was French and that I came especially from Paris to see her. I'll never forget how she talked to me like an old friend from the very beginning.
The next show happened the week after, in Paris. I brought some friends to the concert and the show had a very different feel as we could hear Tift speak mostly in French with her adorable accent. She could even sing Mille Tendresses in the very city she wrote this song. I was astonished that she remembered my name when I met her again after the show. It's kind of rare when my favorite artists come to town so I need to make the most of our time when it happens. This night in Paris definitely cemented my passion for Tift's music.
A couple months later, as a reward for graduating, I brought two friends to London to see Tift Merritt's show at Bush Hall with her band this time. I was really looking forward to hear rocking songs like Tambourine, Broken and my favorite song Laid a highway with its superb harmonica. The full-band shows are very different from the solo performances. While the first two shows were very intimate, this one was very loud and Tift could let herself go. This is still the only time I've seen her with the band. At the merch table, Tift recognized all of us and we were all excited to see each other again. This is during the conversation that Tift promised me a drink during Cayamo Cruise '09, which would have by itself probably gotten me onto the cruise.
A few months later, I was in Miami, on the Norwegian dawn en route to the Carribean for one week of music at sea. Brandi Carlile and Tift Merritt, my favorite artists ever were on board for what promised to be an experience of a lifetime. I was impatiently waiting for her first show on board and she really didn't disappoint. Among all the shows I've attended, this first show on the cruise was probably one of the most moving shows I've ever seen. The intensity and the passion she showed was something out of this world and many people noticed because her second show was absolutely packed. It was also the show of the dilemma, indeed Tift and Brandi were playing at the same time. After a long thinking, I opted to see Tift because I had something in the back of my mind. Tift played brilliantly while making the audience laugh quite a few times. I knew that it was now or never to get that drink with Tift. I can't thank her enough for sharing this drink of wine for more than an hour during which we talked almost exclusively in French. This was really the highlight of the cruise for me. It was very funny at the end when Tift got mad at me for paying for the drink she was supposed to offer. After one last show on the last day of the cruise, I offered her a bottle of Maker's Mark, capping an unbelievable experience, which wouldn't have had so much impact without Tift Merritt on board.
After almost two years, the wait is finally over. See you on the moon.