Kelly mentioned a couple of times during the event, offhandedly, that she figured a lot of people would leave once Kevin Costner stopped singing. I laughed it off — I couldn’t imagine people would have just come for the free concert.
Kelly was right.
Sure enough, at the end of the concert, after Kevin and his entourage wound their way through the crowd back to the Rolling Roadshow crew parking lot, people began to pack up their things. “I cannot believe this,” I said. “Why would they just come to hear Kevin Costner sing?”
Up on the stage, an emcee reminded the majority of the crowd, those of us sticking around for the movie, that this would be the first-ever screening of the actual movie on the actual field. “This is like church,” he said. “Please–no talking.”
The sky, throughout all this, had turned violet, and faded to black as the opening credits of the movie began to roll. As disgusted as I was with the whole concert portion of the experience, James Horner’s soundtrack always brings tears to my eyes. There I was, sitting on the actual Field of Dreams, watching what might be my favorite movie in the whole world.
Kelly grabbed my package of tissues and handed me one.
As the night fell deeper, it became more like magic and less like a strange brush with musical mediocrity in the middle of a cornfield. As Ray Kinsella called out from the cornfield to his wife, Annie, and daughter, Karen, on the porch swing of the farmhouse, and as Annie told him that, in fact, she didn’t hear any voices, the sound of their calling echoed back and forth, off the cornfield, off the house, and out into the cornfield. Stars began as pinpricks, but by midway through the movie, Cassiopeia’s W-shaped constellation hung brightly over the screen, and the Big and Little Dipper dangled overhead.
At one point toward the end of his concert, Costner paid tribute to Burt Lancaster, who played Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham in the movie. “I still remember working with him right over there,” Costner said, gesturing with his guitar toward the bleachers down the first base line. “He acted with his hands. I miss him terribly.”
And, as if in tribute, a deep orange, waning Green Corn moon rose over the projection truck and lifted itself up next to the house just as Moonlight took the mythical field for his one and only major league hit. The moon stayed right there awhile, as if it wanted to watch the movie, too.
A few minutes later, I slipped my feet out of my sandals and let them sink down into the thick, thick grass of the field. It’s softer than carpet, and even though the temperatures had dropped into the upper 60s, felt as warm as a summer afternoon. I kept them there, unwilling to break the connection with the grass, until the credits rolled and I’d managed to stop crying. The final scene gets me every time.
As Kelly and I walked back to my car, I looked back over my shoulder at the field. “This was a really strange event,” I said. “Cool, but strange.”
We followed a dark gravel road between cornfields back to Dyersville, still giggling about some of Kevin Costner’s most priceless comments (“As you may remember from Waterworld…”).
As we passed the same video store on the way out of town, we noticed the other side of the sign: “Heaven will miss you, Kevin. Come back soon.”