On Christmas day I spent some time with my father listening to the first music records recorded, dating back even to 1917. He’s a music collector and both my brother and I have developed a love for music, as it was a big part of when we grew up – he played records almost every day. It made me consider which music will be added to my soundtrack of life from the past year as songs are often connected to distinct memories for me – and I’m quite certain it works the same for other people. Moreover particular songs can immediately take me back to certain countries or places. For 2010 there’s a number of songs or artists that immediately spring to my mind.
The very obvious, Empire State of Mind from Alicia Keys and Jay Z warps me back to March my first visit to this city that everybody knows, but manages to impress you nevertheless. I arrived in an evening snow storm. Hopping of the bus that had the windows blocked, my first glance of the city was the wind whirling the snow around the Chrysler building towering above my head. Awesome is probably the expression an American would use in this case.
Back home again while contemplating (and panicking) what to do about my home, job etc I found strength in listening and singing along to
a song that I’ve known for a long time: Drive from Incubus. In addition to this, my ultimate cheer-myself-up-record was probably Alors on danse from Stromae (although the text is quite depressing if you understand French). I shared this with two Portuguese, a Turkish and a Polish friend and we danced on this in my home before heading out for our Queensday celebration in April. And jumped around on the music that was played throughout the city.
With those same friends I visited a concert of the ultimate angelic folk singer Lou Rhodes. Her songs (like Fortress, but there are many others), also carry me through days when I’m lost in thought. The concert was in a former church De Duif here in Amsterdam and the visible decay of the interior in combination with her music just gave it a mesmerizing unforgettable atmosphere (see picture).
A funny, but brilliant afternoon was shared with close friends coming by for an Easter lunch. I found 12 adults running around in my previous flat to find hidden chocolate Easter eggs. To keep the mood upbeat I played Jamie Lidell’s record Multiply.
The Swedish House Mafia’s song One symbolises the start of the redecorating of my new flat. The radio station I often listen to played it every hour, and I would put the volume up to re- energize and enjoy the bass echoing in the empty space only filled with paint fumes.
Then my time in Africa is probably marked by one distinct song: Lupupa Lupupa by Chika Uwalubana. I still have no clue what it means, but it was played every where when I was in Zambia and after only 2 days I started singing along the Lupupa, Lupupa part to the amazement of my Zambian friend. I sang it all the way through Mozambique and later jumped back in my mind while in Nigeria.
There were other songs of course, Sunshine of Ginger Ninja, which I will associate forever with the loss of the World Cup, but also my love for light and great times in watching the games with my brother and the extreme heat. Or Dutch singer Alain Clarke that gave a wonderful concert in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark creating an energy ball for For Freedom with the crowd. And the song Licht uit (Light’s out) from Dutch rap formation the Opposites, which is probably the song I had in mind when celebrating the buy of my house and my 31st birthday (yeah right…, but it’s fun anyways).
However my ‘discovery’ this year for music will be jazz-singer Kurt Elling, which started in May with a visit to a Jazz club The Black Cat in Jakarta, Indonesia. On invitation of a German friend who said he might be playing improvisation there. It turned out he played excellent saxophone and me and a South African friend really enjoyed the music – as the rest of the Indonesian band members also rocked. Later on, upon traveling to Cape Town in July, the same South African friend – knowing we both shared a love for jazz – introduced me to Kurt Elling and I was sold on the spot. In particular the song Esperanto. Some how it fitted my state of mind this year, as it is about curiosity in life by questions that you can most likely never answer, but make you wonder nevertheless. It symbolizes for me a love for poetry carefully crafted into music. A wonderful combination.