Greetings from Holland!
We have had the best touring experience yet, so far, on this first half of the tour.
The difference between a tour and a trip is that we play fifteen shows in fourteen days on a tour like this.
It ain't no vacation and it isn't for the weak or the squeamish or the faint of heart.
I have a story to tell you and I worked a little extra this morning to get to a place where I could take the time to write this, because I want to get it all down while it's fresh in my mind.
I've been treated with respect on this tour.
I've been treated with love and kindness and appreciation.
I've also been reminded that the entire world is not one hundred percent on board with my life goals, and in fact, most people are indifferent and some are hostile.
We've played five shows so far, and every show has been successful and fairly lucrative averaging $500 a night.
Last night was a great show in a great town, Apeldoorn, very charming with a vibrant and fun late night scene.
Because it's a cooler town with a cooler crowd, we were asked to play from 10-12 at night, where our usual concerts are like 8-10 or even 7-9pm.
And because it was a later start time there were more people who had already been drinking alcohol for a while.
And because there were more people who had been drinking more, there were more people whose inhibitions were relaxed and these people wanted to ask me very pointed questions.
Some very young women asked me, in slurred Dutch accents, "Are you famous anywhere? Are you famous where you come from? Why are you here? We've never heard of you."
And some older Dutch men, with very challenging loud voices were saying, spitting saliva as they spoke, "Why would you come all this way from America to play this little club? Are you any good? We're Dutch you know, we're very discerning. Are we going to like you?"
I got on stage and we fucking knocked it out of the park.
My goal is to leave no doubt left in their minds, to leave no misunderstandings, to leave no lingering questions or doubts by the time I'm finished with them. By the time the show is over they will have long since put on their jackets and left because it's no fun any more because everyone is silently staring in grateful reverence at the stage and there's no one to shout with or act stupid with or toss around drunkenly on the dance floor.
By the time the show is over some will have decided to stay and will be all in with a joyful heart and moist eyes, they will be all in on the music and we will be creating a memory together that will give them something to remember and will give them hope and inspiration for days to come.
A drunk girl got up on my stage and came up with her face right next to mine and wanted to sing on my microphone.
I ended the song and put my arm around her.
I said, "I love you but you need to get off my stage because I'm not going to let you ruin my show."
No one laughed.
She climbed back down.
So this morning Rob and I went for a walk in the charming and somewhat affluent Dutch town where we're staying in a gorgeous bed and breakfast for two nights provided by the record store where we're playing today.
JJ stayed back to rest.
Rob and I were walking and I told him that my daughter Nina had made an Instagram post about having a reoccurring dream where she's driving a car that is spinning out of control and goes off the overpass.
I suddenly remembered the dream I had last night after the late night show with the drunken revelers and disbelievers.
I told Rob that in the dream I was out walking in the Dutch countryside and an older Dutch man, someone like the guys who were at the show asking me bold questions, came toward me out of nowhere and pointed a gun at me.
He warned me, "I'm going to shoot you."
I thought that I could try to run but he would shoot me in the back, so I laid down and hoped he would go away but to my disbelief he shot me in the tall grass as I lay turning trying to avoid the bullets but he shot me through with a million bullets.
Somehow after he turned and left I found my way back to where Rob and my family were staying.
I came in and tried to act as if nothing had happened, and I was thinking that I would bleed to death and die, but Rob was explaining to my children and he knew that I'd been shot, they all knew.
At this point Rob has interrupted me, and he's saying, "Did you die? Did you ever die in the dream?"
And I answer, "No, I didn't I guess."
And Rob says, "Maybe that's the point of the dream, that you keep going anyway."
And I say, "Yeah, I guess so. Those guys tried to shoot holes in my dream, they tried to shoot down my idea of myself and what I'm doing."
Rob sits down on a bench then and says, "I think there are people like this in Minneapolis too, and other places, who feel this way about you. I've had people ask me how you're doing this, still doing it and it's still improving and you're making more money and going on better tours. They can't figure it out. It's like they're thinking you should be dead by now, your career should be dead by now but it's not. I know a song from a songwriter I worked with that talked about dancing on the tombstones, not as a disrespectful thing but as a grateful life affirming thing."
Suddenly, Rob looked around, and I looked around, and what we both vaguely thought was a public garden we had wandered into was actually a very beautiful small graveyard.
We were having this conversation with all of these small well kept gravestones, all covered with many beautiful flowering plants, all around us on either side of a cobblestone path. There was a statue of Jesus on the cross, life size, ahead of us, in white marble set in a stone wall.
We both marveled at what had just occurred.
I said, "I just heard that Mavis Staples just last week played Madison Square Garden for the first time in her life. She is in her seventies. Brandi Carlile said something about how she shouldn't have been the person to finally bring Mavis to The Garden but she's glad she was able to. Mavis herself is in a little video clip saying 'I'm playing Madison Square Garden! That's a big deal!'"
Rob said, "This is the lesson of your dream and of our walk this morning. We were meant to turn in to this graveyard. The lesson is that we're not dead yet and we don't have a foot in the grave. You are doing what you want to do against all odds and it's working."
Rob and I continued our walk and I cried as we left the graveyard.
I said, "Rob, the next time someone asks me what I'm doing, I going to tell them that I'm doing the very best thing I could think of to do with this one wonderful day I was given."
Rob said, "That's a good answer."
And I said, "And I'm going to ask them what they think about what they're doing there."
And Rob said, "That probably isn't necessary."