vrijdag 21 november 2014

Music for the Brain Dead

The suffering of a one man band.


When you stay in bigger hotels there is often some amusement organised for their guests. This can vary from animation teams that do water volleyball and such during the day and karaoke in the evening to complete bands doing concerts. The last hotel in Portugal I stayed in had music by one man bands. These musicians play on keyboards or guitar accompanied by computers with tinned orchestras and rhythm sections.

One man really caught my attention. My wife and I stepped in the lounge a few times when he was doing his thing, playing standards on his keyboards and singing along. These standards are songs everybody knows and almost every artist has sung once. The audience was every time in the same condition: looking tired and half drunk and not giving any notice to what was going on. Even sitting was too much for these people. They were literally hanging around, their overeaten bellies almost positioned higher than their heads. Sometimes some would mumble a bit and some would get new drinks.

The musician had his eyes somewhere faraway, maybe in his younger days. I could imagine him after he ended his musical studies. He must have been in high hopes getting a great career with his friends that had joined him in his band. They would change the musical scene totally. But as in many of these bands, musicians stopped, stepped out and even quit on music. So he ended on his own and bought this equipment. That made it possible for him to play in venues like these hotels. In this way he had a regular income. (Next to his office job, I expect.)
              
I also could think about what happened next. The hotel staff would ask him nicely to play songs that people know and like, the guests are not waiting for experimental stuff. So he has to forget the songs that he expected to give him fame. Instead he learns the standards by heart. The hair gets thinner so he would not be really convincing as a rebellious pop artist anyway. Sometimes some guests will dance a bit to his tunes, and that gives him a bit of pleasure.

But not on this evening; it’s quite hot and there are some guests sleeping on the couches. The barman comes to him and whispers to him that he should get the volume down a bit and he can get a new drink. The barman goes again to get his drink. While he’s lowering the volume the barman is dimming the stage light. He has to end this session in the half dark. He starts “Strangers in the night”, he can do this even blindfolded.

A couple (my wife and I) comes in and take seats right in front of him. This is different! They even applaud for him. He straightens himself and plays a Brazilian song he really likes. It has been a hit in Brazil and Portugal, but the barman doesn’t know it and shakes his head disapproving. So he plays “Besame Mucho” next.

The couple is laughing a bit, and give him applause after every song. Sometimes a few ladies join in and he is almost having a good time.

The man comes to him and asks if he is doing requests. He agrees to do one for the couple. But the man asks him for “A walk in the black forest”. He doesn’t know this song and tells him so. The man walks back to his wife. She laughs out loud and shakes her head. Looks like that it is in disbelief.

They finish their beers and stand up. While turning around to leave they greet him. He nods.

They go and leave him with the brain dead people.

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