March 23, 2008
The Florida Room at the Delano, Miami Beach
There are songs in the world; then there are songs – songs so unbelievably beautiful that they touch the whole wide world at large. Macy Gray’s “I Try” is such a song, and last night she sang it directly to me.
Okay, so she sang it to me and about 100 other of the very fortunate few who knew about her Florida Room appearance, yet it may as well have been just me, alone and (for once) quiet, “keeping my cool” but “feigning.” Which, of course, is the whole point of the hopefully heartbroken anthem: No matter how cool you try to play it, how tough you claim to be, your world has crumbled when somebody wasn’t there. And that includes you, gangster.
Last night, though, Macy was there, for us, standing beside us, and representing all those things we dare not say to ourselves. Yes, she opened with “Whatever Lola Wants” (playfully switching the dame’s name to her own); and, yes, she seconded with Radiohead’s immortal “Creep.” Yet it was “I Try” that pried the front from the players – and left them all standing taller as a result.
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Sure it all has much to do with that voice of hers, which rasps with secrets only whispers share and only the truly brave dare. But that voice wouldn’t even be there if it didn’t come from somewhere – somewhere deep, somewhere beyond, and somewhere true. And if it didn’t have somewhere to go … and someone to go to. At the Florida Room that voice went all right, and so did that song – straight to the core of this mad cat’s soul, right where it belonged all along. -- John Hood
Personal Bias: I dug “I Try” even before it won Macy Gray the Grammy for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" way back in 2000.
Random Detail: It was the first time I’ve ever heard The Florida Room go utterly still – and quiet.
By the Way: Rumor has it that Macy’s gonna be playing Cousin Bunny in Darren Grant’s movie version of Iceberg Slim’s ghetto classic Mama Black Widow.