From My Memoirs – My 6-Degrees of Separation
A Short Introduction
I have had a very interesting life. Whatever image “an interesting life” brings to your mind, so be it. A number of my coaching clients asked me to start sharing shorts pieces from a memoir I’ve been working on for a while. I am crawling towards my seventh decade on terra firma – Planet Earth, and this seemed as good a time as any to start sharing some ordinary and maybe slightly extraordinary tidbits. Obviously, I’m not famous-famous. Still, I’ve had an interesting life. Here is a short piece about Six Degrees of separation (and yes I have met Kevin Bacon).
A Tid Bit From My Life
One of my simple joys in life is sharing news stories, articles of interest, videos, lectures, or music performances with my friends, peers, and colleagues. I do this daily, and usually with three or four people. It helps keep the flame of friendship alive and gives me a warm feeling in my generally isolated physical existence.
Because of my work, as a Results Coach, I network extensively and also gather and organize vast amounts of data, off of the social network. Information that some might call Trivia.
This morning, one of my friends, sent me a wonderful video of the music group The Highwaymen singing the Steve Goodman song, City of New Orleans. The song was made famous by Arlo Guthrie, who many people assumed wrote it. But it wasn’t Arlo, it was Steve, an amazing writer who died young.
Steve will get his own story in another post. His tale includes an extraordinary cast of characters that includes everyone from the late great John Prine, to Kristofferson, and Paul Anka. Part of that story is that in 1971, Goodman was playing at a Chicago bar called the Quiet Knight as the opening act for Kris Kristofferson, Anka was there and the rest is history. Basically, friends making new friends and then helping them along.
Anyway, back to the Highwaymen, and the video I received this morning from my friend.
The Highwaymen was an American country music supergroup, composed of four of country music’s biggest artists who pioneered the outlaw country subgenre: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. Between 1985 and 1995, the group recorded three major-label albums as The Highwaymen: two on Columbia Records and one for Liberty Records. Their Columbia works produced three chart singles, including the number one “Highwayman” in 1985.
Between 1996 and 1999, Nelson, Kristofferson, Cash, and Jennings provided the voice and dramatization for the Louis L’Amour Collection, a four-CD box set of seven Louis L’Amour stories published by the HighBridge Company, although the four were not credited as “The Highwaymen” in this work.
Besides the four formal members of the group, one other vocal artist appeared on a Highwaymen recording: Johnny Rodriguez, who provided Spanish vocal on “Deportee”, a Woody Guthrie composition, from the album Highwayman.
The four even starred in one movie together the 1986 film Stagecoach.
So now you know about the Highwaymen.
“So?” You may be asking.
Well, you see in my life, I enjoy playing 6-degrees of separation.
This is a concept which presents the idea that all people on average are six, or fewer, social connections away from each other. As a result, a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It is also known as the six handshakes rule.
The concept was originally set out in a 1929 short story by Frigyes Karinthy, where a group of people play a game trying to connect any person in the world to themselves by a chain of five others. It was popularized in John Guare’s 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation.
The idea is sometimes generalized to the average social distance being logarithmic in the size of the population.
Being a networker I often muse about the distance between myself and say Elon Musk (1 – I know his mother), Donald Trump (none – I worked for him in the early part of this century) or John Lennon (1- I spent an hour in a café with Yoko Ono a few weeks after John’s murder).
So here I was watching a video of the Highwaymen and having a little time on my hands the question occurred to me “How many degrees from any of the Highwaymen to me?
- Willie Nelson – Probably 3 because of Kristofferson.
- Kristofferson – One. Back in the late 1970s, I was casually dating a girl I went to college with. I could easily have fallen in love with her. She was and is special. She got famous but wasn’t famous then. She had no room for me in her social bandwidth because she was involved with Kristofferson.
- Waylon Jennings – This one is a bit sketchy but I’ll say 3. I have a stockbroker acquaintance, whose last name is Holly, and he claims that he is Buddy Holly’s nephew. Maybe? Maybe Not.
- Johnny Cash – I met Bob Dylan once and he was good friends with Johnny.
So I want to thank my friend for the video of the Highwaymen, and the opportunity to ponder my 6 Degrees of Separation with them.
Hey, I just realized, that if you add one more, you’re connected to them all as well, because you’re reading this.
Here’s that video. The one that prompted this story