How cool is it to find out that the hero of your hero is another of your heroes?
Mrs. Zone and I had the privilege of seeing Vince Gill in concert recently. We’ve seen him three times now, and twice had the privilege of meeting with him afterwards. Mr. Gill is a fabulous musician and entertainer, blessed with a wonderful voice and killer guitar chops. But beyond that, he’s a class act, and I don’t mean just his performance. He’s humble, down-to-earth, and genuine. He takes time at the end of a long evening of performing to chat, pose, and sign autographs with fans, including awkward dullards like Joe.
I don’t just look up to and admire the performer, I look up to and admire to the man.
At the concert, Mr. Gill revealed a connection with western Pennsylvania – his admiration for and friendship with Arnold Palmer. Vince Gill is an excellent golfer (another thing he does better than me – and yet I still like him!). Arnold is kind and generous enough, says Vince, to meet with Vince and his buddies from time to time in Latrobe, maybe play a few holes with them, and in general shower them with his graciousness.
And similar to how I feel about Vince Gill, Vince revealed that his admiration for Arnold goes beyond his skills and achievements. He said that Arnold is his favorite person on the planet, right up there with (or close to!) the person he sleeps with (his wife, Christian singer Amy Grant). There are perhaps similarities in their personalities that cause mutual respect and admiration, similarities in their drive and dedication to their craft, in their lay-it-all-out-there mentalities. Is it really very much different when Arnie lays everything into a bold and risky shot for the pin, than when Vince launches into a fearless, all-over-the fretboard, ripping, bending, sliding, searing guitar solo?
Arnold Palmer has been a hero of mine since I was a young boy. I don’t think anything thrilled my fourteen-year-old self more than tuning into the golf tournament on Sunday, and hearing the announcer say, “The story on the course today is Arnold Palmer.” It possibly might have been eclipsed by a certain female teenager or four saying to me, “Let’s go to the movies and sit in the back row,” but that will forever remain in the hypothetical.
I admired Mr. Palmer not just for his skill with a golf club, but for the way he played the game, for the manner in which he conducted himself on the course, and for the manner in which he conducted his life. (See more on the legacy of Arnold Palmer, later this week in the Joe Zone).
Ironically, even though Arnie is from western Pa., I have never so much as seen him in person, let alone met him. Vince Gill is from Oklahoma, and now lives in Tennessee, and I have met him twice. Go figure.
Of course, up till this point, I had no idea there was any connection between Vince Gill and Arnold Palmer. And I find it to be incredibly gratifying that there is. In a semi-silly way, I suppose, I’m thinking, “Wow, you two are both so great, I love that you are buddies!” Kind of like if you set up your two best friends in high school (not that I would know anything about that). The fact that each hero likes, if not idolizes, the other hero, in a strange way affirms my taste in picking heroes.
And I suppose that’s not a bad skill to possess.