Wednesday, December 8, 2010


So MtMn has been practicing a lot, but I was still surprised when he announced he was playing a solo gig at a local English-speaking hangout. a solo guitar gig. With singing. See. all of that is stuff he can do and has done throughout a long musical life of playing every style imaginable, but two hours of solo singing and strumming is something new. Saturday night was his debut, and it felt like another huge step in our current reinvention of our life. It was absolutely new to watch him singing the blues, Robert Johnson and Taj Mahal and the occasional Soundgarden, in a crowded cafe packed with people escaping the frigid night. At the same time, it was life as it always has been (or at least as it has been since 1983), me in a dark and crowded bar with friends watching him perform across the room. As I have a thousand times before, I settled into a chair and listened, watched strangers listen to him, let the detritus of a long and frustrating day wash away to the strains of "La Grange".

At 11:30 we walked, MtMn and MSMB and me, from that pub to the Stefansdom, ready to experience a real moment of Vienna weirdness, a performance of the Mozart Requiem that would end precisely at the moment of the composer's death. The performance of the piece was excellent, actually, good soloists and orchestra and a superb choir (check them out here - different performance but it will hook you on this group). I won't lie, I was dozing during part of it (it was late and freezing!). But here was the great Requiem happening in this beautiful space at the insane hour of midnight plus, and when at the end the priests came out with the bells and the incense and the cross to solemnly process through the church followed by all of the musicians...well, it was crazy, solemn and sincere yet kitschy and hilarious. 

Vienna in December is dark and damp and yet glowing with Christmas lights and the roasted chestnuts sold on every corner, and it greets me every morning with a tight little smile. Is it a movie set or a mirror? Half a world away my baby brother turns forty and my grandmother sleeps at Fort Snelling next to her veteran husband, and my heart runs back in that direction with every second beat. Yet here we are this morning in Glasergasse 3 (not at the opera house thanks to Immaculate Mary) with the window open to the sun-warmed winter air, drinking coffee and hanging out, making plans.

The pub gig might be regular. so he's practicing.

Jesus left Chicago and he's bound for New Orleans.
Workin' from one end to the other and all points in between.

Took a jump through Mississippi, well, muddy water turned to wine.
Then out to California through the forests and the pines.

You might not see him in person but he'll see you just the same.
You don't have to worry 'cause takin' care of business is his name.


1 comment:

Helen said...

Would love to check out the pub in the new year....Happy Holiday Season!