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Changed forever

May 9th, 2011

Filed under: MUSIC


Spinvis (photo Ramses Singeling)

I win things. A lot. You could even say I’m a winner. When I was 10 I won a bmx bike. I also came first in a piano competition that year. And second in the 100m sprint (division C). Actually, that’s it, but I don’t ever want to be one of those people who say “I never win anything.”

Anyway, so I was on Facebook and two tickets to Spinvis were up for grabs at the Muziekgebouw. I was supposed to leave a comment to have a chance to win. Mine was: “Well, as a struggling student of Dutch, and of music, I’ve been advised by Dutch friends that Spinvis’s music and lyrics would be a worthwhile way for me to improve in leaps and bounds in both subjects. I’d love to see them live!”

Minutes later, I won.

Anyway on Saturday I rocked up to the concert, knowing that I’ve heard one, maybe two of his (Spinvis is Eric de Jong) songs. I was hoping that I’d understand the lyrics, as I’d been told they’re akin to poetry. I felt tired and cranky and was looking forward to a lifting of spirits at the well of music (a tried-and-tested remedy).

Most of the songs were from Goochelaars & Geesten (Magicians and Spirits), as well as the first (self-titled) album. What songs! What glorious thick chords and joyful 70s style five part harmonies, and the endless surprise of toy piano, jews harp, xylophone and flute were bandied about without a batting eyelid – on top of the cello, drums, keyboard, bass and guitars. These songs were about love, God, sea, war, rain and astronauts took me into a world of … watercolors. It sounds weird, but it was one of the first experiences I had of tone painting – in Dutch. The words all seemed to make sense, and fit in with each other, even if I didn’t always understand what I was hearing. Does that make sense? Probably not. Here are some of the notes I took in the dark:

Beat, backdrop, smiling. Audio started shallow. Lekker dissonant counterpoint. Hou je haaks, goede reis Timor. In hoogachting. Romantic fairytale song. Ronnie always goes home. Mike Clarke. Flamenco drum. Saw dolphins! Cockpit. Poetry bells toes. Sweat like an otter. Kodak safety film. Medea kids’ song. God’s Sunday night.  A beginning that looks like an end. De motor draait, de baby huilt.

I think at one point I was clutching onto the arms of my seat and I felt like my hair (done up in a messy french knot) was blasting outwards, loose in a halo as though I was on a rollercoaster. I felt joyous from the effects of music and lyrics – regardless of content. I was completely enthralled, that the sensation was physical. I remember thinking, experiences like this – of realising that I am being moved by art expressed in my new second language – is why I live in Europe, and in Eindhoven. Can experimental pop do that to a person?

After I recovered from the multi-song encore, I moseyed on down to the stage to buy myself a CD (or two), when Eric came down to sign LPs and CDs in his curious way (mostly by drawing the name of a person in the shape of a face – you have to see it done). I told him I’d won tickets and that I was learning Dutch … and this is what he wrote in my CD sleeve:

“Jane, Dutch is a way to change things forever.”

I don’t think he could have put it any wiser.
At that moment, I felt that moving to Eindhoven makes me a fairly big winner in the scheme of things.

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