What Is Your ‘What If’?




Steve Tilston. Does anyone out there with 1970′-80’s Steve Tilston folk music ears remember the British folk singer?  His songs have been recorded by Fairport Convention, Dolores Keane, Peter Bellamy, and so many others. His instrumental style crosses classical music with Irish and English folk. He also plays an early 19th-century instrument called an arpeggione (bowed guitar). 

Steve’s Story
With all of his commercial success, Tilston at the age of 21 was plagued with the thought that he just might be selling out and corrupting his artistry.
In August 2010, it was reported that John Lennon had  penned a letter of support to Tilston in 1971, though it was never delivered. Lennon had been inspired to write to the then 21 year-oldt folk singer after having read an interview in ZigZag magazine in which Tilston admitted he feared wealth and fame might negatively affect his songwriting. In a ‘as-fate-would-have-it-event’ Tilson did not become aware of the letter’s existence until a collector contacted him in 2005 to verify its authenticity. “Being rich doesn’t change your experience in the way you think,” Lennon wrote. It was signed “Love John and Yoko”.
I’m wondering if Steve Tilston would have changed his feelings about his work, or would have taken his music in a different direction had he received that letter from John Lennon as a 21-year-old. I doubt it, because great musicians put their unique and individual stamp into the musical history books. It’s in their DNA.
With all the albums and accomplishment Steve Tilston has had since that letter was written, it doesn’t seem he has lived with many creative regrets. In February 2012 the title track from The Reckoning was awarded Best Original Song at the BBC 2 Radio Awards. 
Well, Steve is now being immortalized in a new movie starring Al Pacino. Pacino with his tufts of gravity-defying, shoe-polish hair and burnt-orange tan, who for awhile now has been sporting the look of a famous-than-thou aging rock star, has finally gotten around to playing one – which he does, exceedingly well, in “Danny Collins, a familiar late-in-life redemption narrative, based on the life of Steve Tilston. 
So, famous or not, life for all of us is full of ‘what if’s’. What if I hadn’t moved? What if I hadn’t gone out that night?  What if I had only driven another road? What if I hadn’t gone to that audition?  (my true ‘what if’) If  we constantly allow ourselves to live in the past instead of the future, we easily could ‘what if’ ourselves to death with regret. 
The moral of this story is: Throw salt over your shoulder and keep walking forward!