Eric Himan’s Battle Cry
BY James Hillis
September 05 2008 12:00 AM ET
When he plays places he’s been before, Himan says, “People tell me, ‘You remembered my name! You remembered my face! You remembered what we talked about last time!’. And they’re so surprised. But I’m not. I don’t just write songs so people like them and walk away. I write songs because it’s part of the way I process. And I think the thing that I’ve realized with being a musician is that I’ve put out my story almost so other people will tell me theirs.”
For someone who’s had so much family loss and uncertainty connecting with all of those people might make him feel protected, as if he’s always surrounded by an extended family.
Himan agrees, “I’m not trying to say I want to be everybody’s best friend, or that I have the right to be.”
Then he tells me about seeing a well-known artist explain that when they perform they don't want to see faces; they want to look out and just see "the black". Himan sees himself as something very different. “I don’t want people to be faceless.”
“You know, I can do this myself,” Himan teases someone in the front row at Solly’s who apparently knows all the words, and is proving it – loudly. “On the next one, maybe we can sing harmony.”
Himan gives the guy a big, mischievous smile. He clearly enjoys the enthusiasm.
Against the sounds of scooping ice, and clinking glass from the bar in the back, Himan confides with us, as if sharing with a group of his closest friends: “I’m supposed to be this serious, out singer-songwriter, and I can talk on and on about songs by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. And then a Madonna song will come on -- and I’m like ‘Oh Madonna!’ ... ruins everything.”
There’s laughter followed by a spontaneous cavalcade of shouted, vintage Madge requests: “True Blue!” “Papa Don’t Preach!” “Vogue!”
Himan laughs. He’ll often throw in a surprise in the middle of a set: a Madonna or DollyParton song, or something from the current top 40 roundup–“Umbrella” by Rihanna, “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis.
But this time he plays a new song from his current album titled “We Are the Same.” “This is a song I wrote for a movie,” Himan tells us quietly. “But I decided to keep it for myself.”
At Solly’s the warm spring night comes through the open windows, and Himan begins to sing in the soft, wise voice of a grown-up lullaby...
I don’t know whyfear swells insideWhen we are faced with differenceThis world is too small to be scared of it …If we could talk, we both could listen. Understand how we are different.Then maybe we could see – We are the same
- Eric Himan is currently on tour throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.EricHiman.com