It was always like a little present, when traveling through the subterranean transport system of Paris, I would hear the tunes of these wonderful artists giving their morning rush hour surprise performance. Music always helps me to get into that work state of mind. And now that September is well on its way, schools have started, vacation is over, it’s time for, as they call it in France, ‘la rentrée’. To get you going again, here’s my September playlist with tunes selected to energize you. Which songs are your ‘labour vitamins’? Let me know.
The weather in Riga has been great the last week, even though it is raining now. And next to that, we had two visits of friends. It is nice to show our guests around the Riga we know it, and to share what have become great candidates for favorite places – the beach in Jurmala, the view from the Skyline bar, Kronvalda Parks etcetera.
And of course, having people over is a good opportunity to drive/walk around and discover new places of interest. That is how we got to have dinner at Galerija Istaba a few weeks back. This weekend, we visited it again and we like it even more. It’s a restaurant with only a few tables, above a shop where you can buy cool things. The shop closes at the end of the day, but the restaurant part still gives you a good view of it. As a starter you get a ultra fresh salad, with bread and some spreads. For mains, you can choose between different types of meat or fish. I ordered the lamb, while the rest of our party of three had the gambas. There is no menu, and you have no say about how your food is prepared. But when you get it, you know it is only for the better. It all is excellent. Plus, we were extra lucky this visit. In the shop area below, there seemed to be a party of sorts going on, with great live music – jazzy with a parisian tone. It was a great evening and Istaba is really hard on it’s way of becoming our favourite restaurant in town.
One of the things I will miss in Paris, is the irregularly regular free classical music concert in La Défense. Now and then, a group of professional musicians performs classical music in the halls of the La Défense public transport station. And, unlike a lot of musicians you find in the Parisian subterranean transport system, these guys are GOOD! Often, they play one of my favorites: the Canon of Pachelbel. And, they play it very well. Always when I hear them, on my way from the deep down RER A to the Tramway 2, I take that small detour to listen to three or four pieces. It is like a little present on your way to work. Just forgetting about time, listening, enjoying the moment, and being happy.
Last Monday, September 7, we went out to see Coldplay play the Parc des Princes stadium. The concert was amazing. It had been about 6 years that I’ve seen them play, and they were even better than I remembered.
This might not be a novel idea, but Paris and Jazz go together very well. On a recent taxi-drive to Roissy, the taxi driver was playing his self assembled jazz cd, and the tones and voice of chet Baker and Miles Davis were the perfect soundtrack for an early mornign drive through, and then out of the city. The tranquil pace with which the city starts to come to life, the slow rolling of the car (due to speed limitations, not traffic jams this time) and the trumpet of Miles and the almost feminine voice of Chet. Wonderful!
Looking back some years, I can see myself walking a springtime sunlit street somewhere in The Hague. On my way to the video rental place. A well known one locally, mainly for their commercials on the biggest local pirate radio station. Not only did they have an extensive collection of video tapes, but they were also quite big in cd’s. One of the cd’s I rented, to get a copy on tape, of course, was one of the Fat Boys. I think the title must have been Crushin’. On it were famous songs as Jailhouse Rap, The Twist – with Chubby Checker, and of course this one with the Beach Boys. Hurray for nostalgia!
Whatever seminars you’ll go to, or topical books you’ll read, there are some parts of a culture that are recorded in songs. Not necessarily protest songs, or songs with a message, but real pop-songs. Some have become part of the culture reference framework. In The Netherlands for example, there is a song that most people associate with the last round in a bar. In a lot of bars, it was the last song played before closing time. The songs title roughly translates into “It’s time” and it tells of what happens at closing time in… a bar.
Another type is the nostalgic song, where someone tells us about how it used to be. Mistral Gagnant by Renaud is such a song. It is the story of a man sitting down with his kid and telling about how it used to be. The main point of reference is candy. The Mistrals Gagnants where little paper bags, filled with this powder that frizzles when you put it in your mouth. In each bag there used to be a small paper with a word on it. If the word was “Gagnant”, you’d won another bag.