The year was 1997. The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 were nearing the end of their second Laughs For Lunch Show. They were about to do something they had never done before. The piano was brought onto the stage, along with the electric guitar. The scoutmaster explained it was time for something a little more serious, something different from the rest of the show. One Scout began playing the guitar. Then the piano joined in. During the song the Scouts walked out onto the stage in groups of three or four. Before the song was finished every Boy Scout of Troop 68 was on the stage. Parents were crying in the audience. Emotions were running high.
Somehow, the troop had pulled it off. And with only one practice.
I will never forget that performance. It was the last year Tom and Nathan would be with the troop. Both would be graduating from high school in the spring and moving away to college. I wanted to do something special with them during the show. Tom was a excellent pianist, one of the best in the state of Minnesota. Nathan was great on the electric guitar. I wanted to do something in the Laughs For Lunch Show that would bring these talents to the stage. A regular campfire song would not be good enough. We needed something better.
The rock band Ugly Kid Joe had recently released their version of the Harry Chapin classic song Cats In The Cradle. I love the song and thought this could be the right one to bring Tom and Nathan’s talents to the stage with the rest of the troop. The two young men agreed, and so did the troop. We threw around a few ideas about how to perform it and came up with something we thought would work well.
Unfortunately, we only had time to practice it once, the afternoon before we held the show.
The show was coming to a close. Some of the skits and songs had gone very well, some could have used a little more practice. I was getting nervous as the time for Cats In The Cradle drew near. Usually performing during a campfire program does not bother me much, but then, most campfire songs and skits are designed to be a bit silly. This song needed to be done seriously. This was not a time for mistakes. And worse of all, I would be the lead singer.
Let me state at this time that I will never be chosen to be on American Idol.
The grand piano was on the stage. The electric guitar was plugged in. The music began. The youngest Scouts began walking onto stage. As the song progressed the older Scouts joined the younger ones on the floor in front of the piano. Before I knew it, it was over. The whole troop was smiling on stage as the crowd was clapping and cheering. The audience loved it. Parents, especially mothers, were crying. The song had hit a nerve and they realized their boys were growing up and would soon move away.
Until then, I had not experienced the power that could be reached while on stage. Never before had I or the Scouts received such an emotional response from an audience. Usually, we did the skit or song and hoped we did it well enough to receive some laughter or clapping as the response. The Cats In The Cradle performance showed us we could accomplished even more.
I have wanted to post this video online for a couple years but did not have a digital version of it. This weekend I finally found some time to copy it to my computer. Now I can share it with all of you. I do not think the video has quite the impact that the live version of it did, but it still turned out well. It does show another side of the Scouts that usually is not seen at a campfire program. I hope you enjoy it. (I apologize ahead of time for the quality of the vhs video, and for my average vocal talent.)
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