Friday, November 19, 2010

One Night in an Italian Hostel

A few weeks ago I went to a free concert in the park with a friend. There was a very good local cover band playing great songs from Kansas, Styx and spicing it up with some James Brown. At one point they fell into a neat rendition of Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven. For a moment I was transported back to 1989. It was 3 a.m. and I was in an hostel in Livorno, Italy with my Army unit dealing with some jet lag. A group of us sat in the common area doing what musicians do best at 3 a.m. - have an impromptu jam session while drinking some house wine. We had a couple of guitars out, some drum sticks on a wooden table. I was singing. After a while we were joined by the Italians on the night staff, some Dutch and German backpackers and a couple from then Yugoslavia who had just arrived. I was tasked to learned some Italian before the tour to MC our concerts. I wish I would have foreseen a UN delegation over a bottle of wine in the middle of the night! Some of the backpackers knew a little English. Mostly they just listened to us and we exchanged lots of warm, tired smiles and blankets on the tattered, old couch.

Someone started playing Stairway To Heaven on the guitar and I began singing. A few words into the song I realized that everyone was singing along. Everyone. Here I was sitting in an Italian Hostel in the middle of the night with a bunch of strangers from all over the world who I could hardly communicate with, singing a perfect rendition of Stairway To Heaven. Needless to say, lots of wine was shared that night. Everyone made an effort to get to know one another. The Dutch were backpacking through Europe for the adventure. The Germans took a year off of college to see the world. The young couple from Yugoslavia... yeah I think about them every once in a while. They were in love. He was supposed to join the military when they got back. They were scared to death. I often wonder about their fate. A year after that trip the Yugoslav Wars broke out. There's been a lot of suffering. Still is. I hope they made it.

For one night, a group of strangers from all over the world spoke the same language - the language of music. I can't explain the immensity of what we shared, but I carry the feeling with me still.

No comments:

Post a Comment