HEAVEN FOR ONE NIGHT
REMINDER: Steve Young will be signing books in Denver on Monday, and in Salt Lake City and Orem, Utah on Tuesday. For details, click here.
I visited heaven last week. It happened one night in New York City.
The journey started in the early morning darkness on October 11th, the on-sale date for Steve Young’s autobiography. At 6:30 AM, Steve and I ducked out of a midtown Manhattan hotel and into a black SUV for a ride to the Fox News studio for an interview on Fox & Friends. Newt Gingrich was also on the show that morning, and we ran into him in the green room. Not my idea of heaven.
The interview with Brian Kilmeade was a great kick-off to the media tour.
From there we hustled across town to the CBS building for a live hit on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” Then to USA Today, followed by a taping on the Rachael Ray show, where we were treated to some terrific food backstage – rancheros and home-baked pumpkin bread.
By lunchtime we were downtown at the new Time Inc. headquarters. There we met with Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King, who interviewed Steve for his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback podcast. “Before we start, I have to tell you both something,” Peter said, holding a copy of the book, “This is really [expletive] good!”
Coming from Peter, that meant a lot.
At one point during Peter’s interview all three of us had our emotions on the surface. Peter had asked about the low point in Steve’s career when he finally told the team physician about his life-long battle with anxiety, and the doctor broke down and confessed that he struggled with the same thing.
Before leaving Time Inc., we popped down to the studio and Steve sat for a TV interview with Maggie Gray. By 2:30 Steve was sitting in a chair opposite Mike Francesa at WFAN, the biggest sports radio talk show in New York. The hour-long interview was so good that New Yorkers called in the next day to compliment Mike for conducting one of the best interviews they’d heard in years.
Then Steve stepped into an adjoining studio for a 30-minute interview on CBS Radio. Steve’s wife Barb arrived at the studio just in time for all of us to rush out of the building to head to a book signing in Ridgefield, New Jersey.
But not before being stopped on the street by TMZ, the new paparazzi, armed with a video camera.
At Bookends, Steve signed over 450 books in one hour.
I couldn’t help noticing the diversity of people in line, especially the number of kids.
I especially appreciated the guys in work boots and blue jeans, many of whom had showed up with their sons. To me, this is the best indication that Steve’s book speaks to Everyman.
One of them asked Steve to sign the tattoo on his bicep.
Even Steve’s wife got in the act, signing books.
All of this was fun. But none of this was heaven. For that, we had to get to Broadway.
As soon as the book signing ended in New Jersey, we hopped in the SUV and raced back to Midtown. It was Steve’s birthday and he wanted to celebrate by taking his wife to see a musical. He chose Irving Berlin’s “Holiday Inn,” which just opened at Studio 54. He invited my wife Lydia and I to join them. Lydia took a three-hour train ride from Connecticut into the city. She dropped her bags at my hotel and hoofed it to the theater.
“We are almost there,” I texted from the Holland Tunnel.
“I’m on 54th,” she texted back.
“We will be pulling up in a black SUV.”
“Holiday Inn” is the ultimate Broadway musical about a singer – Jim Hardy – who gives up his New York City career as a singer and moves to a farm in rural Connecticut. In 1942, Bing Crosby played Jim Hardy in the original movie version, which also starred Fred Astaire and introduced classic songs such as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” “Happy Holiday,” and “Easter Parade.”
The new musical is “the feel good show of the year” – a toe-tapping, smooth dancing, rope-jumping love story.
The moment our SUV pulled up outside the theater, I spotted my love, bolted from the vehicle, and threw my arms around her. Then we escaped the world and entered the theater – heaven on earth!
It really doesn’t get any better than being with your lover and some best friends for a night on Broadway.
When the ensemble broke into “Cheek to Cheek,” I really felt like we had been swept away:
Heaven, I'm in heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek
The lyrics are magic. And hearing them sung felt like heaven.
Heaven, I'm in heaven
And the cares that hung around me through the week
Seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak
When we're out together dancing (Swinging) cheek to cheek
Oh I love to climb a mountain
And reach the highest peak
But it doesn't thrill (Boot) me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek
It was like being back in time.
I want my arms around you
That (Those) charm about you
Will carry me through
To heaven, I'm in heaven
During the intermission, a little girl approached our row and said to Steve: “Are you Steve Young?”
Next thing we know, Steve is out of his seat and surrounded by a group of children while a proud mother took pictures as the people seated behind us realized for the first time that a Hall of Fame quarterback was in the house.
After the show, Steve danced cheek to cheek with his wife on the street outside the theater. People spotted him and smiled. “That’s Steve Young,” one man said to his wife. “Where?” she said. “Right there,” he said. The woman stopped, watched and smiled. Real love is heaven.
Desperate to extend the night, Lydia and I went out for dinner at 11 PM. When life flies by like a blur, you have to carve out slices of heaven.
The next morning Steve did a book signing at the Barnes & Noble store on Fifth Avenue. Even the New York Giants fans were buying books.
Then it was off to JFK for a flight to San Francisco. But Lydia couldn’t come. She had to get back home. Our SUV pulled up to Grand Central Station. She and I jumped out, kissed each other goodbye, and she was gone.
I hated leaving heaven.