David Barrett on NCAA Championship Anthem &quotOne Shining Moment&quot

    Today is April 6, 2020, the day he was scheduled to play the ncaa championship. But like practically all sporting events in this country, March Madness has been canceled due to the covid-19 pandemic. Today is also the birthday of one of my favorite people in the world, someone I have the honor to call a friend: singer-songwriter, recording artist, composer, teacher, and author, David Barrett.

    Now, you may not know David, but if you follow college sports in any way, you’re probably familiar with something he wrote, a little song called “A Shining Moment.” It’s the NCAA basketball anthem and the soundtrack to a highlight reel every college basketball player dreams of being on.

    the ball is tilted / and there you are, you’re running for your life / you’re a shooting star and every year / no one knows how hard you worked / but now it shows… in a shining moment, everything is on lineone’s shining moment, there frozen in time

    Apart from David’s version, the song has been recorded by numerous Grammy Award-winning artists, including Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross, Jennifer Hudson and Ne-Yo. And who could forget Charles Barkley’s passionate performance?

    a shining moment has inspired millions of listeners for more than three decades. Even if you’re not a sports fanatic, you’ll find it hard not to choke when you watch a featured video with the narration of this song in the background. go ahead, try it.

    but time is short / and the road is long in the blink of an eye / ah, that moment is gone and when it’s done / win or lose, you always did your best / because inside you knew. ..that one bright moment, you came deep into a bright moment, you knew you were alive

    i reached out to david and asked if he would mind telling rocket yard readers a bit of his story and sharing how it came to be a shining moment. he responded pretty quickly with a stream of consciousness, saying “see if this works…i just wrote until i stopped”. I chuckled, as an artist like David would put it.

    “Over 35 years ago, I wrote a song. one song among many, that simply changed my life.”

    “it’s hard to describe the circumstances correctly, but suffice it to say that he was a songwriter without much of an audience, living in a farming community called haslett, just outside east lansing, michigan. It’s also fair to say that this was not the music capital of the world, or America, or Michigan.”

    “but i lived there with my roommate, ward kelner, in an apartment that was, to put it mildly, spartan. but there was a piano, and I sure played it a lot, along with my guitar. I pretty much performed in the area, and when I was done with my shows, I would go home and write theme songs and instrumentals, many of which, after a shining moment that gained notoriety, found their way into network TV themes like the Olympics. . but I never played any of these in my concerts. they were just for me…and occasionally my roommate, who seemed to enjoy them as long as I didn’t wake him up in the middle of the night with them.”

    “a dear friend of mine, debby barsky corbitt, called me from texas, where she lived, and asked if i would send her some of my songs. I sang them on a cassette player that I put on the piano and then sent them to him. she called me a few weeks later and told me that she was really knocked out with all eight, but that song… brilliant moment… I should record that one. at the time, he wasn’t the happiest of songwriters, and I told him I’d rather not. she insisted on it, and to this day, she has never let me forget it. thanks, debby…”

    “the song itself came very quickly and easily. she had written the title on a napkin after last night’s performance. the next morning, I wrote down all the letters on another napkin while waiting for a friend to have breakfast. when I got home I just sat at that old piano and wrote the song, never coming up for air. I got up and called a friend and said, “I just wrote this amazing song.”

    “so now, after so many years, i think back to that enchanted morning at the piano. a lightning… a song. this song…”

    yes. thus ended his email. he totally cheated on me, and he probably knew it, damn i love this guy! the suspense gripped me. what is really at the heart of ‘this song’ as he put it? As a loyal blogger and friend, I took the bait and followed up with a series of questions. here they are, and david’s respective answers, in all their raw, unedited glory…

    so what inspired a shining moment?

    “well i went to college as a basketball recruit at albion university. I played all through high school, and it’s fair to say I did pretty well. some might say there was never a shot I was afraid to take! (but I digress…) and I loved it to the core. it was a lifesaver for me, as for reasons not worth discussing here, there were many roads ahead, and this sport, in particular, kept me on track. narrow. As a result, I really learned about the game and its poetry. That was always in my DNA.”

    “I spent my 20 years writing songs, playing gigs (however humble) and learning my craft & craft. Like many who pursue this “leaning against the windmills” career, it’s easy to overhear more advice than is helpful. As a consequence, it’s easy to lose what really inspires you. I know I did. I finally made the decision to write what I knew.”

    “one night after a show i was having a beer and watching larry bird on espn at his best. A lovely waitress crept up next to me, and in a panic I tried to explain the poetry of basketball to her. It didn’t take long for her to leave the conversation. Saying that, I thought… ‘hmmm, I actually know about this…’ and I wrote the title of the song on a napkin and put it in my pocket.”

    “I went home and slept in it. the next day, while waiting for a friend to show up for breakfast, I wrote all the lyrics on another napkin. I went home, sat at the piano, and it all spilled into 20 minutes of inspiration.”

    what is the central message of the song?

    “great question…as I mentioned, I went to college to play basketball. coaches had come to my games to recruit me and such, which was flattering. but when I got there, I decided to really study, which was a shock to everyone. instead of music, I studied philosophy with the same transferred passion with which I played basketball.”

    “Within these studies, it became clear to me that although there is a chronological time, which is the tick-tock of our days and nights, all moments are not, in fact, the same. and from time to time, they really shine for you if you have eyes to see. this song is about that. but also all the quiet passion and hard work it takes to get you to this moment. but when it happens… those are the jewels, right?”

    why does the song touch the hearts of millions, year after year?

    “I talked about that above, but I think there is more to say. I am frequently asked to explain how the song has held up these 35 years. a man from espn called it a “generational song”, which he hadn’t thought of. But after all these years, it just is. I have thousands of stories of friends who call friends; parents calling their sons, who now call their daughters… and ask: “did you stay up and see osm?”… and on…”

    “Obviously, the song is about basketball as a metaphor for our greatest efforts. I think the heartstrings you’re referring to are the heartstrings we all have underneath all the clutter we often fill our days and nights with. remember, I’m a philosophy student, so I’ll spare you German existentialism. it’s just that when I used to play basketball, there were these moments where time would slow down, almost like a dream ballet. where the tapestry of everything that was happening seemed to fit together for a moment. the game was easy… and all that hard work made it that way… I think that’s a universal message that drives the song, whether it’s basketball or raising your family.”

    what does it mean for us not to “have” a shining moment this year because march madness was cancelled?

    “what a beautiful way to put it. I love the fact that my song is embraced by so many in a way that is woven into the fabric of expectations for them. seems to represent a bit of cultural “icing on top” of this unique and wonderful tournament. and when you look back at 34 years (which is fun to do), you see all these young people who are exceptionally in the prime of their lives, striving without all the baggage that accumulates as you get older. in that sense, there’s still some innocence that we’re celebrating as well.”

    Is this an anthem we can all support during this difficult time? how can you inspire us?

    “well, I just wrote about innocence, which belies a certain mentality that I plead guilty to. not the greeting card version, but the simple kindnesses and tender mercies that help us all. I refer to myself as a “world-weary optimist” in the sense that the smug truth of cynicism, while often in vogue, is no match for the homemade jam a friend gives you when you’re down.” p>

    “my daughter got her masters in military history from king’s college london. She made her master’s thesis on the bombing of London in World War II, where the British endured years of relentless bombing. they came together with quiet dignity and cared for each other. Of course, there is no rival, none… to equal Sir Winston Churchill’s oratory during that period of time. but if my song somehow helps us get back to our best selves, put aside our easy cynicism and keep looking at the moments that shine… then I’d say it’s a good day at the office.”

    feel your heartbeat / feel the wind in your face it’s more than a contest / it’s more than a race… and when you finish / win or lose, you always did your best / because inside you knew. .. that shining moment, you reached the shining moment of heaven, you were willing to try

    a brief word from david

    For more information on David Barrett, A Shining Moment, and his other projects, head over to and tell him I said “hi”.

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