Sometimes when listening to music you feel like it’s being hardwired into your system.
Sometimes you hear a voice that’s so pure and beautiful, tears spring to your eyes before you realize – separate fr reason or thought – it’s just your body’s natural emotional response.
Get up early London Sunday morning last November, ready for Paris en route from Heathrow. Grab quick bite, bid farewell to friends, head to airport via Tube (having cleverly bought ticket night before with last 5 Euros).
Push through turnstile, come face to face with sign “NO SUNDAY SERVICE THROUGH TO HEATHROW DUE TO STRIKE”. Hmmm, not so clever after all. No alternative transport, no extra time, jump on the train, ride train one stop, jump off train, *PANIC*, scramble frantically outside, hail cab, drive half hour to Heathrow… Don’t know if you’ve been in a London cab lately, but they’re not the most economical way to get around town let alone the English countryside. Hundred painful dollars later (+ exchange rate + credit card fees) arrive just in nick of time to 1.) be relieved of most costly toiletries by security and 2.) be whisked off to Paris.
Safely land @ Charles de Gaulle, figure out quickest Metro to hotel, set out on last 36 hours of journey to City of Light.
Now 4pm, dark and chilly winter Sunday evening, everything about to close. Streets surprisingly barren of people. What to do, what to do…
Wander my way down Rue de Rivoli, find myself standing in front of strange wildly colorful facade, 2 hipsters sitting out front glance my way.
’Open to the public?’
Spiral staircase – every imaginable color – leading further and further upward toward maze of psychedelic dens. It’s an artists’ building: tonight is open studios.
Wander through labrynthine coops taking it all in. Find an open door with gynormous cluster of people crammed in – looks interesting – a band’s setting up. Miraculously find lone empty crate up front to sit on. Performance begins. A trio, Tous Des Heros: whip-thin hipster on bass, cool bespeckled & bow-tied fellow on percussion, incongruously clean-cut/bearded/inky guitarist/singer. The set begins. Singer first banters easily with crowd in French – miss most of gist, but clearly folks feel he’s got ‘IT’ charisma. Music flows over the crowd beautifully, energetically; hilarious false start to The Luminaires ‘Ho, Hey’. Later, when requests are called for, in lieu of Madonna they accept Lou Reed, launching into soulful rendition of ‘Take a Walk on the Wild Side’. Not possible to avoid tearing up – Reed died of liver disease just 3 Sundays earlier. He was only 71.
To anyone wondering ‘What does this have to do with light?’ I offer City of Light, illuminated rooms in the gloaming, The Luminaires, and lastly White Light/White Heat: Lou Reed…
Look for my piece in the 50/50LIGHT project titled In the Gloaming, based on this story.