Making a Friend on a Plane

I met the young man below on the plane today coming from Los Angeles to Dallas. He sat down next to me and I immediately noticed that he was carrying a book by the Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. I reached into my seat pocket and showed him my book by the same teacher. He said, “When he died recently, I decided to buy his book.” I smiled and said, “I bought three.” We laughed, then launched into an easy conversation about the value of Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, the importance of being aware of one’s breath, and the power of living in the present.

Before it was over, we had discussed that he was a musician and I was a writer, that he had been in LA working as a guitar player on an album for someone and had cut 23 songs in 2 1/2 days, and that he didn’t get a chance to do anything in LA but work. He also told me that he played in a rock and roll band, worked at The Hole in the Wall Bar in Austin on Monday nights, and booked bands for The Hole in the Wall as well. I told him that I had lots of family in Austin and if I ever happened to be there on a Monday, we would head on down to see him. He performs there as well, he said, so we might get to hear him play.

We also talked about songwriting and I told him that my brother Sam and I had written a few songs together. He was a good listener and asked all sorts of questions about our songwriting process. I told him that I was a novice in that area but Sam was a professional musician. We talked about the pros and cons of writing the music first and then writing lyrics for the music or vice versa. I told him that since I only wrote lyrics, Sam and I had to go first with lyrics, then Sam handled the tune. I did, however, give credit where it was due and said the truth was that Sam did the majority of the work. I wrote down ideas for lyrics and then we refined them together.

He finally stuck out his hand and said he was Jim Campo and asked my name. I told him and then I wrote down his name so I could remember it. I fully intend to go see him on one of those Austin treks. He was the type of guy who gave you the feeling that he’d not only remember you but also be genuinely glad to see you.

When Ray and I were driving through the rain on our way to Sherman this evening, I looked up Jim and discovered that he was being modest about his music. He has quite a good rock and roll band called Magic Rockers of Texas and he is the lead singer and lead guitar player.

I included below a solo of his that I found. I thought it was quite charming.

Here’s to making friends on airplanes. I count myself lucky to have stumbled upon the string of lovely people I have befriended while flying. I always come away feeling heartened about our world. What a gift.

Give Jim’s song a listen. He’s a young man with some serious talent.

One Comment Add yours

  1. What a great story, and you are so right about this guy’s talent. Really takes me back to so many times in Natchez, sitting outside listening to the Blues, especially because apparently Campo has the same “back up band”! (except those insect sounds make me spontaneously itch!!) My James has played since we were in high school. Still jams up here in Washington State with his buddies of 40 years. They have been in several different bands together.

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