There's a point during every Buckles performance where when she reaches a particularly emotionally heightened note she'll pull the microphone away from her face and let the full force of that voice come at you, no holds barred, and in a smallish, cabaret-type room with good acoustics it has the effect of making her sound even louder without amplification than she does with, and thus it's a little like being hit straight-on in the sternum with a ball-peen hammer. It's a bit of a showy move but not overly so, since she doesn't do it all that often and knows by instinct where it's needed and how much of it you (we) the audience can handle. Just a second or two of this raw steel sound and that thrilling *ping* *ping* *ping* right there in your chest, and then before you know it it's over. Boy is it something.
Last night for the encore she did "I'm Still Here," which she dedicated to our pal Stritchie, and while we were all on our feet clapping our heads off SarahB said "What do you follow that with?" and I whispered "Mary Chapin Carpenter" hopefully, because Betty singing MCC is one of the best combos in the world. But then she did something possibly even better, which was "Both Sides Now," and it was both clear-eyed and rueful, the way Joni herself sings it on that circa 2000 recording, which I was first introduced to by Steve Dahl on WCKG—I still remember the exact bridge I was stuck on in traffic after work when he played it—and it was so many things coming at me at once that every little piece of my heart just broke apart and then stitched itself up again with joy.
And that in a nutshell is why I love Betty Buckley. (The End.)
Except: etc. Here's one of my classic all-time faves: