a story from the road

There's a story I've been meaning to tell, but there hasn't been time.

Now I'm home and time becomes sprawling again for me.

The worry of course is that I'm not able to make money as easily when I'm not on tour.

But the wonder is I have time to create and I have many songs in the works that need finishing and I want to make an album by Spring 2020.

So, maybe not as much money in these months but the time to create is riches in itself.

Time also means time with this blog, time with the anonymous reader that lives in my heart as confidant and encourager. 

Whoever you are, I am grateful to you.

I want to begin my sprawling days of writing with this story from the touring of the past month.

I hope I do it justice.

It all happened in just one short evening and there really isn't much to it, but the story signifies a lesson, a lesson I have endeavored to learn, and a lesson I think I grasp better now because of what transpired.

We were playing a wonderful old roadhouse, a pub for music, in Germany.

There was a big stage, a room full of charming old wooden tables and chairs, banquettes along two walls covered in old velvet, with round tables pushed up to them along the wall.

There was a nice old bar, and the proprietor, a good friend of ours by now from coming several times to play for him, and his clever and jolly wife, they serve homemade soups and currywurst and all the great German style pub food.

There are plenty of local German beers and some German wines that are very good too.

We pulled up to a parking area across from the pub in the early evening, ready to set up our equipment and perform, Rob, JJ, and myself.

I had a sore throat coming on and I could tell I was not going to escape getting sick on this tour.

But this was the very last concert, we had tomorrow free at the home of our patrons the pub owners, and I could rest all day tomorrow and then travel home the following day.

So I was prepared to give it my all, even though I know that when you're getting sick like that and you sing for three hours in full voice you are quite likely to lose your voice for a week and maybe even damage your vocal chords.

Whatever, the show must go on.

As I got out of the car along the narrow street where we'd parked, I saw a thin figure coming up out of what seemed to be an abandoned entrance to a subway station. 

Cement stairs went down into a completely darkened space below ground, and there was graffiti everywhere and no signage that looked functional.

The figure came up slowly and then I could see that I had caught the person's attention.

I was, as usual and of course, blabbing away in my American accent and wearing some kind of crazy get up from my latest imagined version of my stage self.

I had my leopard fur coat on I remember, and my silver studded dog collar necklace, and my black beret.

The person approached our car in a silent and furtive way, and I could see it was a very young man, maybe the age of my son Jordan who is twenty-three.

Rob and JJ were around back unloading the car and I knew they hadn't seen him yet.

I felt that I shouldn't say anything about him to them out loud because he was very close and he probably knew English and he'd know I was talking about him.

It became obvious to me that he was a strange young man, and it became obvious that he was keenly interested in us, or more precisely, me.

He had a dark hood pulled up over his long dirty hair and his long dirty face and long dirty beard gave the impression of him being a very old man, but I knew he was not.

His clothes were very baggy and soiled.

He passed by me so closely beside the car that I saw his eyes and our eyes met.

I had become very quiet and I smiled a small hopefully understanding smile at him.

He passed me, stopped, looked back at me, circled the back of the car at a distance, and passed close to me again.

I decided he was thinking about stealing things from our car and I grabbed my bulging bag of Euros that I was saving up for the exchange at the airport and stuffed it into my guitar case to bring into the pub with me.

This person didn't look like he had the physical energy to break into a car, but I wasn't taking any chances.

We grabbed all our things, I threw my guitar on my back, we locked the car, and we headed down the block to the well lit and cheery looking pub.

Immediately I saw hat the thin young man was not interested in the car, but was interested, keenly curious, about me.

He followed us.

We went into the pub, there was great joy at being reunited with the pub owner and his wife, hugs all around, beers were poured.

I went up to the stage and began to set up my guitars and my pedal board in front of the center microphone, as I do every night on tour.

That's when I saw that the young man had entered the pub.

There were only maybe two people at the bar at this point in the evening, having beers.

He sat down near the door and removed his hood.

He hadn't bathed or had a haircut in a very long time.

His beard was down to the middle of his chest, a thin wisp of a long beard, like a skinny old man from Appalachia, like an old hillbilly.

But again, I was very aware that he was young.

And it seemed obvious that he was intelligent.

And he was mentally ill.

So, he sat and watched.

I set up.

The guys set up.

We did our sound check.

People began to arrive for our concert.

Old friends and new, many fans, until the pub was full, every seat in the house and some standing along the bar too.

And yet the young man sat in his little chair by the door, hunched over, watching me.

I said nothing to him or to anyone about him.

I decided that he was a neighborhood fixture and that the pub owners knew him or knew of him and that he probably was tolerated, allowed to come in and hear the music and warm up from time to time.

We started our show.

My throat was getting worse, it was probably psychological at that point that the tour was over and I just was letting the elements get the better of me.

I sang well enough, and we played well, and I gave them every bit of energy and emotion I had.

When we took a short break in the middle of the concert, the young man became more bold and began pacing around near the stage.

I had my merch table set up near the stage and people were enthusiastically buying all my fun things and I was signing everything for everyone.

The young man was mumbling out loud at this point, mumbling incoherently I thought in German.

As I prepared to get back up and sing he came close as he passed me and I could smell that he was very unclean and I could hear him saying somewhat impassioned mumblings in German.

He seemed to be a bit agitated.

We played the rest of the show.

Everyone was wonderful, the music sounded great, my voice held out and I even did two encores solo.

The young man was watching me so intently that a couple of times, during the sad songs like Father And Son by Cat Stevens I looked over and smiled at him.

I began to think that he liked me, that I made him feel something and think about something, that maybe I was helping him.

Finally the show was over.

People bought many more things from me.

We cleared off the stage and packed up our instruments.

The guys sat down with the pub owner to eat sausages and boiled potatoes.

I had no appetite and now I was allowing my body to get sick probably because my face became a bit flushed like a fever was setting in.

I sat down on the edge of the stage and stretched my legs out straight in front of me.

I was wearing my red plaid grunge style maxi skirt and my Bob Dylan t shirt so I just sat on the floor of the stage with my full skirt all around me, and drank the hot water they made for me in a big mug.

I had my leopard coat around my shoulders and I just sat there, happy with how the evening had turned out.

We were going to follow the pub owner to his home after they closed, so we had to wait anyway.

I saw that the young man was still there.

He looked over at me from his same chair by the door where he was seated again.

Most people were leaving, many were out in front smoking because in Germany people still smoke a lot, although thankfully, no longer inside the bars.

I smiled and nodded to the young man.

I was feeling good, like we had made people very happy and like I had not let my impending illness ruin the show.

This was when the young man changed his expression, and with a strange look on his face that I couldn't read, he came over and sat down right next to me on the stage.

I felt a little bit afraid.

But Rob and JJ and the pub owner, although engrossed in their food and conversation, were only a few paces away at their table.

I sat and just kept drinking my hot water.

The young man sat up right next to me, like practically touching, shoulder to shoulder.

Rob suddenly looked up and said in a loud stern voice, "Courtney, come over here. Here's a chair for you."

I didn't want to move.

I was curious about the young man.

Rob was frowning and looking very concerned now.

I said, "No, I'm fine. It's okay. I'm just going to sit here."

Rob accepted my answer and went back to his dinner.

The young man turned to me, and when he did we were face to face.

He said something in German, something weird and mumbling, seemingly incoherent.

I said, "I'm sorry, I can't understand you. No sprechen sie Deutsch."

I was getting kind of scared.

He was looking at my face very carefully.

All of a sudden he scrunched up his face in a determined and somewhat disgusted expression and in perfectly clear English with a strong German accent, and in a very low serious voice, right into my face, maybe ten inches between our faces at most, he spoke.

"You're not an artist. No, you're not. You're not an artist......" 

My mind raced and I remembered that the pub owner had given a beautiful introduction for me on the microphone and in German and in English had referred to me as the great artist Courtney Yasmineh.

I looked at the kid and my brain switched gears, thinking now, like, look kid, you're my son's age and you're nuts and you don't know shit, and you're not gonna sit here and tell me what I am and what I'm not when I'm coming down with pneumonia and I just worked my ass off to put on a good show for you and your countrymen.

So I said, "Yes I am."

And the kid said, "No. No you're not. You're not an artist, you're a toy. You're a little little toy."

And now he lifted up his arm and started patting me on top of my black wool beret on my head.

He was patting my head and he was looking at me in a patronizing way and he was saying, "You're nothing but a little little toy."

And now he was patting my head harder and harder like he was actually starting to slam his hand down on my head, and I put down my mug of hot water, I gathered my skirt and jumped to my feet and leapt from the stage and went over to the guys.

I sat down with them and didn't say a word.

Behind me the young man had stood and was pacing around the whole empty pub now, shouting in German.

The pub owner rose and with patience in his voice beseeched the young man to go home, leave the pub and be on his way.

The two of them left out the front door and then from among the smokers still on the front walk there came shouts in German that we didn't understand.

And I could hear the young man shouting in German.

When the pub owner finally rejoined us at the table, we were sitting minding our own business because we didn't speak German anyway and Rob was saying that I needed to stay away from the young man.

I was aware that I wasn't saying anything to my guys or the pub owner about what the young man had said to me. I was aware that I was trying to protect the kid by not telling the men what he had done because I didn't want the kid to get in trouble for how he treated me. I felt like I had brought the whole thing on, brought on the kid's outburst, lured him into the pub by my strange look and my accent and then my performance.

The pub owner told us that the young man had attempted to strike several people and had finally been run off by the crowd.

The pub owner also said that no one knew the guy and no one had ever seen him there before.

Poor guy.

He probably went back to his hiding place in the abandoned stairwell.

I hope not.

I hope he has a home.

I thought about him so much after that.

Maybe he had mean parents.

My brother and I had mean parents.

Maybe he was really smart, he seemed smart.

My brother was really smart and spoke French and German fluently.

Isn't that weird?

My brother spoke German.

He had studied German first and had gone on a study abroad trip to Germany in high school.

He studied French later and graduated from high school six months early and went to Nice, France where he worked in a vineyard.

In college he studied French and German Literature and read many texts in their original languages.

He wrote his French Literature papers in French.

My brother would have liked this kid.

I bet they would have liked each other and would have had a good discussion.

My brother would have explained to the kid about me.

He would have made the kid understand me.

He would have helped the kid see what I was trying to do in the world and he would have shown the kid that even though I was a female, and dressed flamboyantly, and a singer of songs, and an entertainer, that what I was doing was serious and important and had meaning and value.

My big brother would have set him straight and everybody would have felt better.

But my big brother is no longer of this world and I am left to defend my right to be whoever the fuck I want to be.

No crazy young man is going to get me down.

I have earned my crown and I wear it proudly, even if it has it's thorns, it has gorgeous blooming roses too, and I am beautiful.

So are you.

Story from the road, unpacked.

 

 

 

4 comments

  • mark buell
    mark buell
    this was lovely. I’m pretty sure you are protected

    this was lovely. I’m pretty sure you are protected

  • Courtney Yasmineh
    Courtney Yasmineh
    thanks for reading, Mark. I hope you're right. Love.

    thanks for reading, Mark. I hope you're right. Love.

  • Jerry Bolash
    Jerry Bolash
    Loved the story and it was nice meeting you today hope you enjoyed the curry in the jar since we didn't have the pouches ☺

    Loved the story and it was nice meeting you today hope you enjoyed the curry in the jar since we didn't have the pouches ☺

  • Courtney Yasmineh
    Courtney Yasmineh
    Jerry! The curry turned out fabulously! That's so fun that we talked about my music in the grocery store, over trying to find an easy to make curry sauce. And you noticed that, as usual, I was looking like a freak and you asked me if I was dressed up like a rockstar for Halloween or if I dressed this way all the time.....I was wearing a pink tutu and a black leather jacket...which my friends and fans know I wear all the time....except for when I'm wearing cut offs and fishnets and a fringe suede jacket and a cowboy hat....or....or......well, just a really fun interaction today, thank you Jerry for checking out my music and my blog!

    Jerry!
    The curry turned out fabulously!
    That's so fun that we talked about my music in the grocery store, over trying to find an easy to make curry sauce. And you noticed that, as usual, I was looking like a freak and you asked me if I was dressed up like a rockstar for Halloween or if I dressed this way all the time.....I was wearing a pink tutu and a black leather jacket...which my friends and fans know I wear all the time....except for when I'm wearing cut offs and fishnets and a fringe suede jacket and a cowboy hat....or....or......well, just a really fun interaction today, thank you Jerry for checking out my music and my blog!

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