September 22, 2018
Today’s recommended tour quote remains unpublished pending a decision by the Sarah Smith Music Incorporated Ethical Review Board. Please allow six to eight weeks for tribunal selection, case presentation, formal arguments, and appeals. Until the review process is completed, the following quote will be used as a placeholder:
“I like coffee.”
Apologies for any inconvenience.
I’m writing this far earlier in the morning than I wanted to.
There are a lot of new things on this tour – new songs, new gear, new cities – but one thing remains the same: my perennial inability to sleep well on the road. I think I cobbled together three or four hours last night in various bursts. At a certain point I gave up and dragged myself to the shower, where I began what is becoming a more and more difficult process of trying to make myself look human. After that I tried again to sleep, but abandoned the cause and tip-toed out of the room I’m sharing with my peacefully slumbering bandmates, Ken and Deni.
I don’t know why I can’t sleep. We could chalk it up somewhat unconvincingly to residual jet lag, but I think we all see through that. I’m plagued by monkey mind. It’s a perpetual struggle, and while I am working on it, you’ll still have to forgive me if today’s entry is perhaps less lucid than the others. It’s a shame, really, because I’ll need all of my faculties to explain where we wound up yesterday. We went to universes. Many of them. We may still be in them now for all I know. Me with my bloodshot eyes and wet hair.
Are you familiar with the Mandela Effect?
Apparently a very high percentage of the global population believes that Nelson Mandela died in prison 30 years ago. He never left jail, never became President of South Africa, and most certainly did not die an old and revered man in 2013. Such people often recall watching his funeral on the television in the 1980s. What’s up with those folks? Is it a collective cultural false memory? Are they quacks or conspiracy theorists? Or, as is postulated by some theorists, did they grow up in an alternate reality where Nelson Mandela did in fact die in prison?
Is it possible that we all exist in multiple universes where a similar but slightly different reality is unfolding, and that we sometimes skip between those universes with memories that don’t align to the present reality? Ken thinks he jumped a reality in a car accident last winter. Sarah’s her own universe. I just want to live in a reality where I can get some sleep. You’re allowed to dismiss all of this as quantum claptrap if you like, but before you do, ask yourself one question: Does Darth Vader say, “Luke, I am your father?”
Yes, this is what we got up to last night. You can’t give a band a day off like Sarah did in Hamburg yesterday. Stuff gets weird. I mean, if we had just played a show and chilled afterwards like normal, maybe I wouldn’t have woken up wondering what reality I’m living in. Who knows?
Days off are very, very rare for us. Usually we book something every day on the tour, partly because we’re here to play and partly because if we don’t play, we don’t get paid. These tours cost money, which makes gigs pretty important on a practical level. But alas, we had no gig yesterday, which afforded us the opportunity to explore the great city of Hamburg a little bit.
We slept in as best we could, sleep being a rare and valued commodity on the road (even for those who can actually sleep). Then we got up, breakfasted again at Andreas’s table, and piled like circus clowns into our friend Tanja’s little hot-rod. We were in search of a kind of Nirvana for coffee freaks: elbgold röstkaffee, which is basically a craft coffee emporium and the kind of place a guy like me could call home. Ethiopian? Nicaraguan? French press? Pour-over? Yes to all and keep ‘em coming! The coffee was fab. We were seated at a long wooden table, yammering as we do, when a guy beside me asked what sort of accent I have.
That’s a touchy question for me. I was once in a restaurant in England, where an older gent asked me if he detected a “colonial” accent in my speech. Look, bub, we shot off the colonial shackles on the slopes of Vimy Ridge, no matter who we put on our money. You detect a Canadian accent. Period.
Anyway, the guy at the coffee emporium was just as much a colonial as me. He was an ex-pat New Zealander who I think was just intrigued to hear another native English speaker. Nice guy. He and his wife may turn up at our next Hamburg gig, down on The Reeperbahn.
Yep, we’re returning to the Devil’s Den this week. Stay tuned for that one.
After coffee we walked around Hamburg. German cities are so cool. They somehow manage to be edgy and classy at the same time. There is graffiti everywhere, but a lot of it is real art. There are boutiques and shops and people and bustle. The buildings are old. The trees are old. There is energy in the streets and language and signs in German and this infectious Old World charm. We like Hamburg a lot. It’s a big city. It has culture and vibe. It was fun to be able to experience it for a couple of hours.
Later we met up with Sarah superfans Angie, Schimmi, and Karin at a fabulous Asian restaurant called Bok Hamburg. Mango chicken. Spring rolls. Hot soups. It was all delicious. It really is great to be back here with our European friends again. They are such generous and lovely people.
Dinner dinnered, we returned to the B&B for what turned into another after-party with no “after.” Andreas wanted to show Deni one of his guitars, which turned into an impromptu jam by the two of them on some of Deni’s songs. Ken and I were happy to take in a great little show amid our conversations about alternate realties and parallel universes. I’d say it was like a dream, but, you know, that would have required me to be asleep.
On to Berlin today.