Have love, will travel…
The Sonics’ song really does not fit what this is all about, at least not if you look at the obvious, literal meaning. Yet this line so perfectly describes what I do that I thought it was a fitting title for this introduction to my blog. I love music, I love concerts and those who know me understand that traveling to see the bands I love is a huge and important part of my life.
Musicians are in Town
Oh, schütz uns vor Sturmesflut, Feuer und Wind
Vor Pest und vor Epidemien
Und vor Musikanten, die auf Reisen sind –
Oder lass mich mit ihnen zieh’n
Erbarmen, oder lass mich mit ihnen zieh’n!
(Musikanten sind in der Stadt – Reinhard Mey)
One of my earliest memories is this: It was Christmas 1977 and my parents listened to Reinhard Mey’s live album “20.00 Uhr”. The first song on there is the one quoted above. It deals with prejudice people have against travelling musicians or travelling people in general. The singer is warning them to hide their valuables and not let these people into town only to end the song on telling us that he would love to go with them, thereby hinting that their life might be so much more interesting and making clear that he believes none of this nonesense.
I was five years old then and I didn’t understand what this song was about until much later. Yet there I was, standing in the middle of the living room, singing along at the top of my lungs “Haltet mich fest oder lasst mich mit ihnen zieh’n” (hold me back or let me go with them). Little did I know that I would grow up to do just that – follow the musicians and bands I love to wherever they played a concert.
Darkness on the Edge of Town
So when you look at me
you better look hard and look twice
Is that me baby
or just a brilliant disguise?
(Brilliant Disguise – Bruce Springsteen)
Fast forward to 1987. I was your typical moody teenager I guess and had typical teenage problems to struggle with. Being smart didn’t exactly gain me popularity points and the fact that I actually liked learning and school often made me the odd one out. I had no friends to speak of and felt misunderstood by pretty much everyone around me. The adults would not take me seriously and the other kids, well, they had their own struggles. Yet, none of that concerned me too much, as long as I had books to retreat to. Music was in my life as well, but nothing had hit me yet, not until I heard Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise” for the first time. Even though it is a song about doubts in a relationship, a topic I knew nothing about then, it struck a chord with me. The notion of not showing my real face, but wearing a brilliant disguise instead felt very real to me.
A little later I heard “Born to run” on the radio and was hooked for good. That music, that voice, they filled me with longing – for people I hadn’t met yet, places I wanted to go. Within half a year I had gotten my hands on Springsteens entire back catalogue and for the first time I knew what it meant to be a fan. Among those was ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’, my favorite Bruce album until this day. I wrote elsewhere that Darkness was the first album to teach me how deeply music can cut you. Bruce was not talking to me, he was talking about me and his stories of hope and despair became the soundtrack of my life. I had fallen head over heels in love with this music and those lyrics that touched my heart.
All these Moments
Jeht klar, kein Frooch – et ess alles okay,
och die kostbarste Momente jonn vorbei.
Schon klar, doch – hey – dat deit nit ens wieh.
All die Aureblecke nimmp mir keiner mieh.
Janz bestemmp, die nimmp mir keiner mieh.
(All de Aurenblecke – BAP)
My first concert ever happened in February 1989. I went to see BAP in my hometown. After Bruce, they were my second fan-love, writing lyrics that speak to my head about things I can relate to, saying lots of things I can agree with.
The concert? They played for almost 4 hours, setting the mark for everything that followed. I was elated during the show and exhausted after, the smile on my face lasting for days. My first taste of a drug I could never quit. To this day I am following them, enjoying each and every gig, remembering so many little things. The song quoted above is from their album ‘Halv su wild’ and talks about just that – moments that one wll remember forever.
It took me another 8 years before I finally saw Bruce Springsteen live on a rainy February day in Düsseldorf. I have seen him many times since, but still remember every detail of that first show.
And the Soundtrack of my life continues.
Right now – Hey! It’s your tomorrow
Right now – Come on, it’s everything
Right now – Catch your magic moment
Do it right here and now
It means everything
(Right now – Van Halen)
The first crazy concert trip I took happened one year later. My then current music obsession was Sammy Hagar whom I had first seen live fronting Van Halen in 1995. Meanwhile he was back to being a solo artist whose album “Marching to Mars” I loved. I had first heard about his annual birthday bash in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico the previous year and thought it would be cool to go there one day. After an online friend told me about his trip to Cabo, the idea of doing it formed in my head and no matter how hard I tried to tell myself this was crazy, I knew it was then or never. I did it, met many people, hat lots of fun and the rest is history. Once this first step was taken there was no turning back.
I didn’t lose my mind
It was mine to give away
(No Regrets – Robbie Williams)
Two years later I flew to New Jersey to see Springsteen play on my birthday (and while I was there, stayed for five more concerts). Since then I have followed him across Europe on every tour for as many concerts as I had time and money to see.
Somewhere in 2003 I became a Robbie Williams fan. I loved his music for a while and toured with him for ten shows of his ‘Close Encounters’ Tour in 2006 just because it felt like the right thing to do. In 2008 I lost interest, mainly because I didn’t like his latest album, but I don’t regret seeing all these shows when it mattered. I also saw many other concerts and I’ve been called crazy more often than not, but I’m loving it.
If I speak Ill, please, humor me
Won’t rant on endlessly
Just thought I’d try to make you see
(Illusion & Dream – Poets of the Fall)
During my stay in Robbie fandom I discovered a new band. My Finnish friends on the forum had told me about them and one sent me a few songs. When I first listened to these tracks I knew I was on to something, but it took a while to realize they had the power to turn my fan world upside down.
The music of Poets of the Fall drew me in, but their amazing lyrics made me stay. Their songs became good company on my journey through this life, opening doors to new worlds. I first saw them live in September 2007 and was hooked right away. I knew I would go to see them again and again.
When the album ‘Revolution Roulette’ came out it hit me like a ton of bricks. Nothing had moved me this much since ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ almost 20 years earlier. I immediately understood what these songs were about, felt a deep connection that I could not explain. The connection is still there, over ten years and over 200 concerts later, deeper than ever. They never cease to amaze me and their seventh studio album album, ‘Clearview’ is yet another masterpiece and one the best they have released so far. This band is here to stay, they make music that speaks to my soul.
Crashing into Love
I’ve got the headlights on
To see the sense in front of me
(Crashing into Love – Martin and James)
The next band I have fallen head over heals in love with are Martin and James. The duo from Scotland offers beautiful and often somewhat sad songs they create mostly with just two guitars and their voices. Their live performance is honest and simple in the best sense of the word: no frills, no scripted show, just pure music. When I first discovered them, I wondered where they would take me. Now I can say: They take me to a place where the music is beautiful, the memories are good and friends are never far. This journey ended abruptly when the band split in 2015. They never officially announced it, but both members are pursuing solo projects, which sadly do not appeal to me. Should they play together again, I’ll be there.
You just have to know of me
I’ve traveled far
and I’ve stayed in one place,
I’ve spoken to the night
and I’ve kept silent for days
(Days and Nights – Árstíðir)
When I fall in love with new music it happens with a bang. One moment I like what I am hearing and the next I arrive at the point of no return. It doesn’t happen all that often, not on this level and with this intensity, but once in a while there is a certain sound that speaks to me in a way that I cannot resist, that makes me want to hear it over and over again, dig down deep and understand it with all of my being. And I don’t mean just a single song I like or even love, but one artists or band whose music speaks to me so much that all I can do is go with the flow, board the train and embark on a journey with them, wherever that may take me. I heard of Árstíðir first when I saw a documentary about them. It took a year until I got a chance to see them live, but one time was enough to know I’d stick with them. It’s been a wild roller-coaster ride since, but I don’t regret a minute of it.
Fuck a brain, I have a heart I can’t keep quiet.
(Vancouver – The Anatomy of Frank)
I stumbled upon The Anatomy of Frank accidentally at Iceland Airwaves in 2014. A band I had wanted to see was late, they were still playing and while I listened to them for the first time Daníel of Árstíðir told me they were going to tour with them. One song later I turned to him to tell him I approved and the rest is history. Lovely music, lovely people that make me smile every time I see them.
I’m exactly the person that I want to be
Isn’t it amazing
How we can never tell
Who is in an identical hell?
(Voicemail for Jill – Amanda Palmer)
After all these years it was about time to finally have a woman on this list. I came to Amanda Palmer the long way around, via her Ted Talk recommended to me by a friend. I watched, read her book, thought she was cool, eventually caught a live stream she did and knew I needed to see her live. Signed up for her Patreon somewhere along the way and have been nothing but amazed since. Even though I have not seen that many concerts yet, I know she is here to stay, because she speaks to me in ways nobody else does. Her shows are a deeply emotional, at times life changing, roller-coaster of raw power and honest retellings of personal experiences. While she bares her soul on stage she heals others, myself included and every time I leave with a sense of peace and belonging. It is never easy, but it is always beautiful. Unlike most other music this is not a distraction and an escape from “real life”, but a reminder of all things important and worth fighting for in a safe environment, where it is OK to feel, to cry to be. The song quoted above is about abortion, a topic I have no personal experience with, but that question applies to so many situations and if we all considered it once in a while the world would be a better place.
Everything described here just offers a glimpse on my connection to music from the first fandom I got into to the last. I love music in many of its forms, shapes and sizes and will continue to tour with the bands I love as long as I can stand upright.
While Poets of the Fall, Árstíðir, Bruce Springsteen and BAP are the ones closest to my heart and the most important to me, there are many others that I consider great live bands and whose music I love, even though I don’t consider myself a fan. All these have kept me good company on my search for my place in life and all these I plan to blog about.
…to be continued…