Angry over something not worth thinking about or even blogging about, so instead I am going to show you this song, which you might have already heard while watching “Crazy, Stupid Love“, which I watched at 4 am last night when I couldn’t sleep.
It made me laugh out loud.
This song stuck in my head, and I looked it up.
Today when I was angry, when I turned angry, when the angry got to me, I put it on and listening to it made it all go away.
So last month a little anniversary passed by, and it was only on my walk home from work at 5:30 in the evening that I remembered that that particular day (25th of August) was the day that I moved to Amsterdam 5 years before.
I’m sure I had a lot to say about that only-to-me-momentous occasion, but if I did it is now forgotten. It probably went something along the lines of “Oh my it’s been 5 years, times have been good, times have been bad, I’m still here, baby, wooot.” Although I hope it would have been more flowery and poetic.
Also, I think I would have added a Josh Ritter song to the post, because it was just before my move from Brussels to Amsterdam that I had been first introduced to his music, and I fell in love with the sound immediately.
On the train to Amsterdam, I listened to one album in particular for the entire 3 hour journey. I was striking out on my own, feeling vulnerable and sensitive, having just left my home, my friends, and my relationship, and it felt not unlike a bird taking flight for the first time on shakey wings (oh hey look, guess that flowery and poetic post is still in me somewhere!).
Several songs, it seemed, were made for just such a trip. For instance the aptly named “Leaving“, or the appropriately titled “Roll On“. And, of course, “Come and Find Me Now“, the lyrics of which made my heart weep wondering had I made the right decision:
Though I’m here in this far off place
My air is not this time and space
I draw you close with every breath
You don’t know it’s right until it’s wrong
You don’t know it’s yours until it’s gone
I didn’t know that it was home ’til you up and left
Anyway, since that trip just 5 years ago, I have seen Josh Ritter live in concert three times in Amsterdam, and once in Ireland. He is a fantastic performer- he and his band really give a lot back to their audience- and I fall in love all over again with his music every time I see him smiling and singing on stage. I have mentioned him on this blog plenty of times. His music stepped in at an important time in my life, and he continues to deliver with every new album.
So I guess it’s no surprise that I saw him again on Tuesday night. Which I suppose means I average one Josh Ritter concert for every year in Amsterdam. Can you see why his music is so special to me?
Because of several factors (weather, work, stress) , I really wasn’t feeling social that night, and I was just sort of coasting through the concert when one song in particular started. My friend, who is normally very reserved and doesn’t get outwardly excited about much, leaned down and whispered to me, “Have you heard this one yet?”
I hadn’t, but something about his question and the look on his face made me perk up and listen harder. If he was this excited about a song, then it must be good.
It ended up being a song so beautiful that it made me cry.
Here it is:
I was so swept away by this song, that I didn’t take in all of the lyrics. I remember being a bit confused by some of them, but it wasn’t until later when I saw the official video that it all made sense.
This amazing video is by the drummer from Josh Ritter’s band, Liam Hurley, who is apparently a puppeteer as well! I haven’t been able to stop watching the video or listening to this song since I heard it first.
If you ever have a chance, and you haven’t seen Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band yet, please please go see them live (they’ll be back in Amsterdam in April!). And then think of me, on the train to Amsterdam, striking out on my new life, or in the balcony above in Paradiso, listening to this music with tears in my eyes.
I’ve been on a bit of a music kick lately. Looking for new songs, looking up old songs that I used to love, songs that remind me of things.
I found Ian Thomas on MySpace years ago, recommended to me by someone who said he was a friend of his. I probably listened to this song daily for months on end.
When I abandoned MySpace to the dust and cobwebs, I unwittingly disconnected my only link to this song and this singer. But the other day, fueled by nostalgia, I logged back into MySpace, and blew away the dust bunnies.
There in my friend’s list I saw Ian Thomas’ profile, and there on his profile, I once again heard this song.
Not losing it this time.
I used to keep an eye on his shows, he played fairly often in the New Jersey area. I thought that if I ever visited to ol’ home turf again, I’d catch one of his shows while I was there. Now I see that he will be in the UK this summer (London and Brighton).
Last night I slept restlessly, in that floating space between deep sleep and wide awake. This happens often when I have to be up early to be at work at seven thirty in the a.m. My mind won’t let me sleep soundly for fear of oversleeping the next morning. Then the whole day today I felt that extreme tired where your eyeballs hurt as if they have been raked over and your nerves are paper thin and the hours can’t pass by fast enough while the work piles up. We’ve all been there.
After a day like this I would normally come home and crash into bed again, but today I fought it with all I had. I didn’t want bed, I wanted something else. Anything else, anything that would stave off the tiredness and stretch the day out longer.
It helped that I had three cups of coffee in my belly by then and the day was sunny and brisk. I put out a call to arms on facebook for company to go have drinks on a terrace somewhere. No one took my bait. Either no one I know in Amsterdam is the least bit spontaneous, or I waited too late to invite the world to have a drink with me.
In the end I found unexpected company and headed out to a bar that I haven’t frequented since those late nights in about the summer of 2006, when I had nowhere to be in the mornings and no fear of hangovers just yet. I miss this bar- the music is good, the ambiance perfect. It was good to be back.
The company I was with was also nostalgic of those very same times, back when things were a little less confusing and everything sparkled a bit brighter. Back when I didn’t know what unexpected turns were coming my way. The conversation flowed easily over a few drinks, and then over dinner and cocktails nearby, and then back to the same haunt because I had forgotten my phone on my seat and we thought we might as well have one for the road while we were there and the night was still young.
We laughed over stupid stories, talked openly about our days, and shared a comfort that is hard to find elsewhere. I even found myself writing down music recommendations on the back of a coaster, just like that night years ago when the thought of Amsterdam was so far away and the night was never not young and the rounds so endlessly flowing. I still have that first coaster saved somewhere, although on the walk home tonight I lost this one.
I remarked that I still had the urge to have a cigarette, and so on the way out he handed me one, and I walked him to his bike. The cigarette felt strange in my hand, funny that something so small and light could feel so foreign and heavy. It wasn’t until we parted ways smiling that I really allowed myself to focus on the cigarette, and I took a deeper drag.
It was a little shocking to me that the first thing that it reminded me of was being 8 years old in the third grade, when myself and two friends of mine would smoke half-gone cigarettes that we would pick off of the ground or from our parents’ ashtrays. We called them ‘doegywows’. I won’t explain how to pronouce that, nor do I remember where the name came from, but it was our code word for cigarettes, and for about a month we fancied ourselves smokers until the trivialities of being 8 years old distracted us and we “quit”.
Halfway home I found myself laughing at the memories, and how a mundane Monday had turned into something much more interesting and unexpected. I also found myself feeling ultra silly over this farce of me smoking. I decided to stub it out, but when I did I realized that I had smoked the whole thing anyway.
On Monday, on a tip from a friend, I went to go see Owen Pallett at De Duif here in Amsterdam. I only listened to a snippet of one of his songs before I agreed to go, and so I didn’t wholly know what to expect when I got there.
De Duif isn’t one of my normal concert venues. It is a former church located on the Prinsengracht and now (apparently) serves as an event and concert venue where Paradiso (also a former church) occasionally outsources their concerts. It was a fantastic and intimate setting, and I’ll be on the look out for more shows there for certain.
As for the man himself, I was pretty blown away.
Here are a few things I could tell about Owen Pallett as soon as I heard him talk and sing:
He’s Canadian (telltale pronunciation of “about”).
He is a classically trained singer/musician (telltale pronunciation while singing, also did things to the violin that I never dreamed possible).
Is probably pretty sick of being compared to Andrew Bird (because they used similar looping techniques).
I just looked up more information about him, and all of the above is correct. Although the annoyance at the comparison to Andrew Bird is still just an assumption.
I also found a snippet of one of the songs that I really loved from the actual show I attended at De Duif so you can get an idea of his style. The Internet strikes again! This is a few seconds from the song “Lewis Takes Action”. If you like it, you can also hear the whole song on his Myspace.
I recognize this area where he is walking, because it is one street away from where I stayed on that fateful trip to Paris when this happened.
Anyway this was a fantastic show and if you ever get a chance you should definitely drop what you are doing and go hear him play. He is also pretty funny when he chats to the audience between songs (a big plus point for me), and you can also see his sense of humor if you watch the Take-Away-Show all the way through (he starts to run away from the camera).
Retiring my boots for the summer (I’ve lived in them this long winter)
Late afternoons spent on a blanket in the park
Stopping for breakfast on a terrace of a cafe on my way into work some mornings
A very social March
A possible trip to the States soon enough
Leaving the house without a coat, 2 scarves, and gloves
Trips to the beach with the dogs
The need for sunglassses and my parasol again
It’s not that I’ve had nothing to write lately. On the contrary, I have loads to say, but it’s all going into my real diary, in real words scrawled in ink, meant only for me to get it off my chest and capture this time in my life for my own sake, not so much for the sake of the internets.
But I am still on the look out for blog fodder, and since March is building up to be very full socially, I don’t think that will be much of a problem. What I want (need) more than anything is the distraction of friends right now (check), a busy work load at the hotel (check) and maybe a hardcore gym routine to make me sweat (no check…not yet anyway).
But right now I’m off to meet a friend for lunch, because this week is Restaurant Week, and I’ve been fully taking advantage of that as an excuse to get together with friends and check out some new places to eat (6 in total, if you must know). And later on I am going to go see Hot Chip with a good friend, so all in all yes…I’m getting what I want: Distraction.
And damn. I wish I would have been in Paradiso to see it live in 2005. Hang on past the 5 minute and 45 second mark on that second video. I promise it’s worth it. This is the kind of show that I love, and yet rarely find.
I haven’t seen ‘Into The Wild‘ yet, but it’s been on my list since it was in the cinema. In a roundabout way tonight, I found out that Eddie Vedder made the entire soundtrack in his first ever solo work while taking a break from Pearl Jam. He played every instrument in every song, which proves to me (as if I needed proof of his genius) that he is one of our generation’s best artists.
I gave it a listen and the entire album has a decidedly laid back Americana folk vibe to it. This song in particular stuck out for me.
A few years ago I saw Pearl Jam at the Rock Werchter festival, where they played one of the songs from this soundtrack, as well as countless songs from my high school years. Their show was definitely the highlight of the weekend for me. At the risk of sounding like a starstruck fan, Eddie Vedder just…had this presence. He was chatty on stage and really gracious to his audience, and I couldn’t have asked for a better show.
Back at the campsite, I mentioned to my friend’s brother how awesome that show was, and he kind of looked perplexed.
“You know…” I said, “Pearl Jam.”
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard of them before but like…I wouldn’t know any of their songs.”
My jaw dropped before I realized that this kid was about 18. Of course he doesn’t know Pearl Jam. He was probably born the year the band formed.