An American in Berlin

An American in Berlin
10 July, 2022

Just spent the last weekend in Bavaria for Rudi’s Summerfest.  There’s not a whole lot new to say here in that it’s kinda the same shtick every time I go down there.  Though that’s not really fair.  It’s not that it’s the same.  It’s more just, how many times can I write about how great these people are, the way the welcome me into their lives, the way they have of making you feel like family. 

But it’s not exactly the same.  This time we stayed at Anna and Rudi’s.  The first time I’d ever been to their place.  And they have this big old dog which hardly troubled my allergies at all, much to my surprise.  I also met Rudi’s mom.  She’s a real pistol.  We hit it off pretty well the first night when everybody was drunk.  So that was fun.

We all – the kids, I mean – also went out in the old city.  That was my first time doing that as well.  The city, by the way, is called Weiden, and it’s more of a town than a city.  But by medieval standards, it was a city, and part of the old wall is still standing.  The old city is really nice, but there’s too many Americans, as there’s an army base nearby.  We stopped into one bar, an Irish pub, but left before ordering a single drink, much to my dismay.  Toby wasn’t feeling it, wasn’t into the vibe there.  Which I guess, if you’re already showing up with your girlfriend, then why do you need to be in a crowded bar with a bunch of young and loud folks.  So we’re leaving and I ask why.  And Tobi’s like, “I don’t like it here.”  To which I replied, “Ja, junge Mädels mit dicke Titten, aber gut, lass uns gehen.”  Which Anna thought was like the funniest thing and would retell that story at least three or four more times over the course of the weekend. 

We also went to a wine bar.  The wine bar was called Milch Bar (Milk Bar), because why wouldn’t it be?  At one point, the bartender (and possibly owner?) came over to our table.  An older dude, he spoke with a heavy accent and in a low and soft voice; so not necessarily the easiest guy to understand.  Anyway, the rest of the people at our table (Anna, Rudi, Toby and Marina; Joshcka hadn’t arrived yet) got into a discussion with him.  I didn’t participate, I was just listening. 

At the end, someone (I think Anna) asked me if I understood what they were talking about.  At which point I basically repeated the conversation, point by point and in my own words, pausing after each point to make sure I’d gotten it right.  I got all of it right.  And they were like, “Wow, Dave, your German is getting really good!”  I still suck at taking compliments, but rather than deflecting, my stock answer at this point has become, “Well, after six years in this country, it oughta be.”  I’ll allow myself the odd back-handed compliment, I guess is the point.

But in point of fact, I got quite a few compliments on my German this visit.  Like, Rudi’s mom for example.  At one point, she was just like, “You know, Rudi said I would need to speak slowly to you, but I can just talk to you like normal.”  Which was great.  But then I looked at Rudi, and I was like, “Dude, really?”  He kinda shrugged and smiled and was like, “Well, I said she’d need to speak clearly.”  Which was funny because Rudi kinda has a mumbly way of speaking himself. 

But also, he wasn’t wrong.  Because what I found on this particular trip was not so much that I felt a language barrier per se.  Right, it’s not like when I’m in France.  In France, I just miss a lot of stuff.  My ear isn’t good enough.  But here, where I had the most trouble, was the Bavarian accent.  It’s weird.  Sometimes, I feel like I tune into it really well.  And that’s a really cool feeling.  Cos it’s like, yeah, I speak German well enough at this point that you can change up the accent on me and it’s not a problem.  But then there’s other times where I just can’t hear through it, you know?  And then it’s like, yeah, as good as I am at this (or if not objectively good, then at least so much better than in the past), it’s still not my language, at the end of the day.  And new accents are a lot of work.

But of course there’s accent, and then there’s dialect.  Accents are a challenge, but dialects are sexy, you guys.  Dead ass.  Cos that’s where the language gets real.  It’s not just sounds, but it’s a whole new way of expressing words.  I’ve written that I’m pretty comfortable at this point with the Berlin dialect.  I’m prepared for the non-standard vocab and the particular and peculiar way that words get contracted, mushed together, here. 

I’ll give one example, from Bavarian, that I can remember. I was talking to Anna and this other girl Tamara who I’d only just met.  And I guess I said something about myself that this girl Tamara had already learned from Anna.  So T says – and I hope I get this right – she says, “Ja, Ich hab sho-ghert.”  And I’m like, “Shoghert?  Was heißt shoghert?”  And Anna looks at me and says, “Ich hab es schon gehört…hab shon gehert…sho-ghert.”  And I’m just like, whoa, mind blown.  Like, you’d just never hear that particular way of combining those words in Berlin.  And I thought that was so cool, you know?

Another cool thing about Bavarian is that in many ways it’s actually quite similar to Yiddish.  And that’s not just my own personal observation.  I’ve had that confirmed to me by a number of people who are familiar with both.  But this time around, I actually heard it much more than I ever had.  Just one example.  In standard German, when you want to say that somebody has left, you say “Sie ist gegangen” – she left.  But in Yiddish, you would say, “zi ist avek (or, in German orthography, sie ist aweg).  And sure enough, at some point, Anna was talking about some girl who had left, and she said that exactly, Sie ist aweg.”  And I was just like, Oh shit, cool!

So I decided to, well, not exactly speak straight up Yiddish, but to really Yiddish up my German when speaking with the Bavarians.  Just to see how it would go over.  Would anybody notice?  Would people understand me?  Would people think it was weird?  I’ll give one example.  Standard German, like English, abhors a double negative, even though it’s very much a living feature of the language.  Consider “ain’t no,” for instance, as in “I ain’t got no time.”  It’s a valid English expression, but it’s non-standard, and you can find plenty of people who think it’s just straight-up wrong.  Same in German.  But in Yiddish, the double negative is actually the standard.  Let’s use the same example.  In standard German, you would say “Ich hab keine Zeit.”  But in Yiddish, you would say, “איך האָב נישט קיין צײַט” (Ikh hob nisht keyn tseyt).

Now, I can promise you that if I were to say that at band practice, if I were to use a double negative with Ralf and Bibi (or really with any of the non-Bavarian Germans that I know), they’d be on me before I even started the next sentence.  “Dave, double negatives, just no.”  But I’d heard that the double negative is a valid feature of the Bavarian dialect.  So I decided to try it out, just to see what would happen.  And sure enough, nobody batted an eye.

But what I also noticed is how much Berlin is just fixed into my German at this point.  Now, remember, my brain knows it’s speaking German, no matter how much I might try and Yiddish it up.  At the end of the day, I’m speaking deutsch.  And so certain features of Berlinisih are just part of the way I speak German now, totally unconscious at this point.  Like replacing ‘g’ with ‘j/y’ in past tense forms (e.g. “jemacht” instead of “gemacht“).  Or replacing certain instances of the letter ‘t’ with ‘s’ (e.g. “wat” for “was”).  And other such examples of pronunciation aspects that I wont’ get into here.  The point is, for this weekend, my German became this very odd mix of Yiddish and Berlinish, in a much more extreme way than it ever is up here.

One last example.  In standard German, the first-person plural subject pronoun (“we”) is wir.  And the first-person singular dative pronoun (“to me, for me”) is mir.  But in Yiddish as well as in Bavarian, mir doubles also as the first-person plural subject pronoun.  So in standard German, to say “We are drinking beer,” you say “Wir trinken Bier.”  But in Yiddish and in Bavarian, you say, “Mir trinken Bier.”  And more than once, I’d be talking to someone and they’d reflexively say mir and then instantly correct themselves to say wir.  And it just made me laugh, you know?  Like, guys, I get it. 

But that’s also an example of how there are limits to how much I can Yiddish up my German.  Like, when my brain knows it’s speaking Yiddish, saying mir for ‘we’ is no problem.  But trying to force that into my German, even when I’m trying to bridge the gap between Yiddish and Bavarian, was super hard.

One last thought on my experience with Bavarian this weekend, or more precisely with my being able to recognize and understand it.  It’s no secret that our friends, when they get together with us and the rest of the metal gang, go out of their way to try and speak a more standard kind of German.  You might catch them falling into dialect a bit here and there amongst themselves, but it’s quite limited.  This weekend, though, we were in their home.  At their party.  With all of their friends.  And so I think they felt much more comfortable speaking something closer to their own dialect than they otherwise normally might.  And that was even more true for some number of their friends who don’t have much reason to get out of Bavaria and therefore have less experience in the code-switching department.  All to say, it was a real feast for the ears.  Like, beyond the fact of just awesome people and loads of fun, it was a real linguistic adventure to boot.

Anyway, it’s Germany, right?  And the party is cookout/bbq type of affair.  Which means, just, loads of Bratwurst.  The point is, on the first day – the day before the party – Rudi asked me if I can eat pork.  So of course I told him that it’s no problem, I eat pork all the time, it’d be pretty hard to live in Germany and not eat pork, etc.  I assumed he was asking to make sure the party menu would be ok for me. 

But in fact, that’s not what he meant at all.  He didn’t mean can I personally eat pork.  He meant, Halachacly speaking, was I allowed to eat pork.  But of course “Halacha” is not in his vocabulary, so he probably said something along the lines of ‘according to the rules or the laws.”  Anyway, it turns out he had a personal reason for asking.  See, his grandfather had owned an inn of sorts.  And owing to a large Jewish family in the village – the Mandelbaums, apparently – it seems his grandfather had kept an entirely separate set of cookware so as to be able to serve kosher meals.

Which I just thought was really cool, you know?  I mean, sure, objectively it could have just been a good business decision.  But anti-Semitism being what it is, it very often trumps what’s good for the wallet.  And look, it’s not like I have any doubts about my friends in that regard.  Nicht im Geringsten.  I’m also not in the business of judging my friends today for what their ancestors might or might not have done.  Nevertheless, knowing that this is how his grandfather had run his business was somehow quite comforting.  Like, not that I needed any kind of reassurance, right?  I mean, you’d never even think to ask such a question.  But learning that, it’s just like, yeah, I’ve not only got good people around me, but they also come from good people.  Respect. 

Moving on, I was told that there would be another Yank at the party.  It seems one of Rudi’s cousins is dating some dude in the army.  And my reflexive reaction was just like, “Ugh, I didn’t come here to talk English, let alone hang out with another Ami.” ((Here’s a funny thing.  German and French share some two-part words.  Pommes-frites; döner kebap for example.  And in normal speech, they refer to these things by only one of the words.  But different words.  So in France, fries are frites, but in Germany they are Pommes.  In France, you get a kebap if you’re hungry, but in Germany, you grab a Döner.  Anyway, the French refer to us Yanks as les ricains.  To the Germans, we are die Amis.))  Which  admittedly is not fair to this person I’ve never met, nevermind being selfish for my own part. 

So of course I got “stuck” talking to him.  At one point, I’m sitting there minding my own business, and this dude just turns to me and says, “Hey, I heard you’re also American?”  Oh great, here we go.  And of course he’s got this thick southern accent too.  Because of course he does.  But I know how to be polite and I can manage small talk in short doses.  So that’s how that started.

And just to prove the point that you shouldn’t prejudge people, he obviously turned out to be a pretty solid dude.  Given that he’s in the army, and that I don’t know anybody in the army, I took it as a learning opportunity.  I just asked him a whole bunch of questions and let him teach me shit.  Turns out he’s airborne.  And I went skydiving once.  So we actually had a nice discussion about the experience of jumping out of an airplane and how counterintuitively peaceful it is on the way down, once the chute opens.  I also asked him about if and/or how the war had changed things for him.  We talked a bit about his being from Kentucky and our different accents.  His girlfriend, Rudi’s cousin, was also there.  She’s in the army too, I guess.  And she was also really nice.

But later on, we got to talking – me and Kent; that’s his name – about the experience of living abroad, experiencing new cultures, learning another language and all that.  And this is where he turned out to be a really good guy.  He basically told me that a lot of guys on his base are pretty closed-minded and not interested in learning a new culture or examining their own preconceptions.  But that for him, living a new country was a real eye-opener, that he loved learning about different ways of seeing and understanding things, that he wanted to learn German and was indeed learning some very little bit from his boo.  So yeah, just a good, solid dude.  And in the end, I really enjoyed talking with him.  Sure, in the future, I’ll continue to avoid Americans.  But I’ll try to remember this experience and avoid them in a less judgey way. 

Funny follow-up to this story.  Later on, one of Anna’s cousins came up to me – I already knew this dude, good guy, a highway cop on the Czech border – and he asked me in German what I though of the Ami, cos he noticed I’d spent some time talking with him.  And without actually saying anything about Kent personally, you could see he was kinda skeptical.  Now, I made my answer honestly and said what was on my mind, which was basically what I’d just written above.  But I happened to notice, by chance, that his gf happened to be standing nearby.  And I could see out of the corner of my eye that she was trying to furtively listen in.  So while I didn’t change my answer because I knew she had an ear on us, I did make a point of speaking loud enough for her to hear.  After all, I only had good things to say, and I thought she might like to hear that. 

Anyway, after I said what I’d had to say, she came over and was like, “Hey, just so you know, I was kinda secretly listening to you guys, and that was really nice what you had to say.”  I mean, yeah, you could tell it made her happy to hear that her bf had made a good impression.  Later though, Fabi – that’s Anna’s cousin – came up to me, and you could tell he was kinda embarrassed.  He was like, “Dude, I didn’t know his gf was standing right there when I asked you!  Why didn’t you say anything?”  And I was just like, “Well, why would I?  You didn’t say anything bad, and I only had good things to say.”  In the end we just laughed about it.  But it was just kinda funny that, the whole time, I knew she was listening and he had no idea. 

I guess the last thing to say about the party is about how it ended (at least for me).  Which is to say, it ended how these things always end.  With me playing guitar and singing for whoever happens to be left awake.  In this case, it was Joschka and Anna, plus that girl Tamara and her bf Daniel.  Tamara and Daniel: nice Hebrew names for a coupla goyim. 

In one sense, there’s really not much to say, because these things are always the same.  Either people get really into it, or at 4am after a day and night of drink, it hits them like a lullaby and they fall out one by one.  In this case, Anna was the first to get sleepy and go to bed.  Daniel followed not long after.  But Joschka and Tamara were in for the duration.

I said these things are always the same, and they more or less are.  But each time it’s a little bit different, each time is a little unique, and this was no exception.  See, there’s a certain core group of songs that I always play, that people come to expect at this point.  And I did those.  But I also added some new ones.  One of them being ‘Runaway Train’ by Soul Asylum.  It’s a 90’s song and American, so I had no idea if anybody would actually know it.

But sure enough, I look at the gang as I’m playing and there’s Joschka and Tamara singing along, knowing most of the words.  Cool!  A new one to add to the usual list.  I also threw in ‘Otherside’ by the Chili Peppers.  That one was for Joschka, as I know he loves that tune.  And again, they’re just singing right along.

So that was already cool.  But also cool was the reaction I got from Tamara.  It’s not so often that I get to play for new people at this point.  I mean, it’s pretty much just the usual suspects when we get together.  So this was new for me, but also for her.  And man, she loved it.  I mean, she was gushing.  “This is so fucking cool!”  “Dude, you’re really good!”  “I fucking love this!”  That kinda shit.  And yeah, that’s nice to hear, נישט אזוי? Yeah, זיכער אזוי!

And I mean, it’s nice to hear, no two ways about it.  It’s nicer still when it’s coming from a pretty girl, which she is.  But like I said, her boyfriend is sitting right there with us, also enjoying the music.  So after one particularly effusive compliment, I just looked at her and, in German, was like, “You got a sister?”  And she’s like, “Yeah.”  And I’m like, “Single?”  And she’s like, “Married.”  And I’m like, “Happily?”  And then she frowns.  “Yeah.”  Verdammt.  Well, what was I gonna do with a girl in Bavaria anyway?

And then of course there’s the inevitable German improv towards the end of things.  Look, are there mistakes in my German when I do this?  Of course.  Nevertheless, I don’t know how I ever pull this off, just making up funny songs in German on the fly.  Obviously the booze helps.  But that’s always so much fun for me.  I never know what’s gonna come outa my mouth.  And I relish the challenge, you know?  Not just finding shit that makes some kinda sense, but actually figuring out how to make it rhyme off the cuff.  Just a blast.  And they’re always joke-songs, right?  Like they’re meant to be funny.  So when you see people laughing, you know you’re doing something right. 

And people remember them too, or at least the gist of them.  Like, for me, they’re gone as soon as I finish singing.  I could never recreate a one of them.  Nevertheless, they have a way of sticking with folks; or at least the feeling of them does.  I mean, Anna still brings up ‘The Squirrel Song” from like six years ago.  They still talk about the “Fuck Palace” song from last summer.  Come on, that’s pretty cool.

Anyway, another party, another gem; if you can call them gems.  But people fall apart laughing, which is good enough for me.  And at the end, I managed to stich on the chorus of this song we always sing at the festivals.  That caught people by surprise, but like, in a good way.  Like, “Oh shit, I did not see that coming!”  But they hopped right on and started singing along.  Fucking great.

I wrote in the last post about how nice it is, not just singing with Charlotte, but singing for her.  And this was no different.  It’s obviously gratifying to see people rocking out to your music, and of course the compliments make you feel good.  But it’s no less gratifying to watch people fall peacefully asleep.  The power of rock and the power of a lullaby, all in one.  It’s a very warming feeling is all I can say.

Also, it’s not all I can say.  Look, I love everything about this.  I think that’s clear from what I’ve written; not just here, but in other posts too.  So what I’m gonna say next is not a complaint, not in the least.  Just an observation, a curiosity.  I do wonder why it is that I’m the only one.  Like, how is it that nobody else plays or sings, that we might do some songs together?  Well, that’s just how it is.  I guess it makes me a sort of travelling troubadour.  And that ain’t so bad.

And I guess that’s enough.  Another trip to Bavaria, another great weekend filled with wonderful friends, drink and music.  When I moved here six years ago, I never could have dreamed of any of this.  And now look.  Pretty spec-fucking-tacular, if you ask me.

Quick band update before I close.  We had a gig maybe three weeks ago or so.  And to be honest, I was pretty dissatisfied with it.  I felt it was sloppy and that we were underprepared.  And the more I thought about, the more I realized I was growing rather dissatisfied with the way we do things in general.  So I met Bibi for a beer and decided to tell her what was on my mind.

The first thing I did was to put a simple question to her.  Was she satisfied with how we were operating?  Because if she was, I’d keep my mouth shut.  But if she actually wanted to grow this thing, actually get better as a unit, I had thoughts.  This was not a question, it turns out, that required a lot of thought on her end.  Straight away, she’s just like, yeah, I want us to be better, tell me everything.

So here’s the short version of what I said.  We’re a band that, at best, practices two hours a week.  And that’s exactly what we sound like.  People need to be responsible for their parts.  I can’t be telling Ralf – on stage – if a song needs a capo, and if so, on what fret.  I can’t be reminding people when it’s their verse or not.  For myself, I needed to shore up my solos.  I’m a little too content to improvise and it doesn’t always work out.  Finally, for the love of all things holy, the two of them need to be ‘off book.’  I mean, when we play at this café, her and Ralf show up with music stands and iPads and because they haven’t memorized the lyrics or the chord changes.  I basically finished by saying that if this were my own band, I would not go on stage at a bar or a club as things were.

I tried to be direct without being an asshole about it.  The good thing about Bibi is, direct is her language.  You might annoy her, she might disagree vehemently.  But you’re not gonna offend her by shooting straight.  So that was good.  Anyway, she heard what I had to say and thought it over for a few seconds.  At which point, she was just like, “You know, you’re right.  Let’s do it.”  The only thing was, we’d have to have this same conversation with Ralf and see where he stood.

But there was one other thing.  After I’d said my piece, she looked at me and was like, “OK, now I need to tell you something.”  OK, shoot.  And she’s like, “You need to take more of a leadership role in this band.  You’re the only one of us with actual band experience.  We don’t know what we’re doing.  You need to take more charge of things at practice.”  And look, she’s not wrong.  I mean, it’s not my comfort zone – like, at all – but she’s not wrong. 

It’s just funny, cos I remember how this all started.  How shy I was in the beginning.  How I felt that this was their project and that I was just there to add some color.  I really didn’t want to assert myself.  I didn’t want to suggest songs, I didn’t want to sing unless somebody told me I should, all that kinda stuff.  But as time went on, I stopped feeling like a hired gun.  I have suggested the odd song.  I’m very comfortable now hopping on the mic without prodding, adding harmonies on my own, even asking if I can take the odd verse.  But for all that, I still didn’t really want to assert myself.  They’re much more in tune with each other in terms of the kind of music they want to play.  And I’ve always been content to follow their lead in terms of how much work I’d put into this project. 

And just in general, it’s never really been in my nature to dictate pace.  Whether in school or hockey or whatever, I have a tendency to work or play at the level of the people around me.  If I was playing hockey against properly good skaters, I’d do everything I could to play up to that level.  But if the guys in front of me were no great shakes, I’d be pretty content to coast.  In high school, and even college, I was always content to roll along at a high-B or low-A if my classmates were more or less average.  But in grad school, surrounded by the super smart, it forced me to up my academic game.  And that’s how I’ve been with the band this whole time.  You guys don’t want to learn the songs by heart?  Fine, I’ll just hang back and do my job.  But rarely would I go the extra mile.

Only now, I was being asked to set the pace.  Like I said, that is not my comfort zone.  But like I also said, Bibi was right about it.  So, time to grow up and step outside the comfort zone.  But first, we needed to talk to Ralf.  Which we did; and he was on board.  Now that we were all on the same page, we decided to choose five songs to focus on at the next practice. 

Which we did.  And at the end of practice, I told them that the thing to do was, next practice, we start with these same songs.  If they’re tight, we play through each one twice and move on.  If they’re not, we keep working.  They agreed.

Anyway, this week was the second practice.  Four of the five songs were in good shape, and twice through was enough.  The fifth required some extra attention.  But we were able to move on to some different songs as well.  And I gotta tell you guys, we’re making real progress here.  And I wasn’t shy about asserting myself either.  Instead of asking if the others wanted to go through a song again, I simply said, “OK, that was good.  Now we do it again.”  Even when Ralf was like, “Hey, that was really good!”, I was still like, “Yes, it was.  Now we do it again.”  And we did.  Ralf gave me some shit about ‘cracking the whip,’ but it was all in good fun, and in the end, if I said a song needed another run through, he didn’t argue.  And look, I’m certainly not trying to be a dictator here, or even a ‘band leader,’ whatever that means.  But I am trying to provide some structure and some guidance. 

And they seem receptive to it.  For now, at least.  But it’s good.  It’s important for me.  It’s similar to working on our stuff in the studio.  It’s kinda on me at this point to try and get the most out of my bandmates.  Sometimes that means using a soft touch, some times it means putting my foot down a little.  But if they’re serious about taking this thing to some next level, then I know for myself the standard we need to reach for me to be satisfied.  And I guess I’m gonna push them as far as they’re willing to be pushed.

But let me tell you this.  After just two practices, already it’s making a world of difference.  Like, I’m watching Bibi now, working without a lyric sheet.  And it’s almost like we got a new singer.  She’s working the mic instead of just singing into it.  There’s more energy in her voice.  And unencumbered by the crutch that is the iPad, she’s doing more to make the songs her own.  Instead of just following a wrote melody, she’s putting her stamp on things.  And Ralf too, there’s more energy in his playing.

So it’s a big step up in terms of individual performance.  But more importantly, we’re playing more as a unit now.  Paying more attention to each other, feeding off each other.  What I really want to say is, for the first maybe ever, I really felt like I was playing with a band.  And man, that felt good. 

Now look, there’s a long way to go.  At this point, out of twenty-odd songs in our repertoire, we’ve got maybe, maybe, seven or eight ‘off book’ like this.  So we’ve got a lot of work to do, to get the other tunes into shape.  And then there’s the question of maintaining this, building momentum, establishing this in our bones as our way of doing business.  We’ve got our work cut out for us.  But yeah, this is far and away the best I’ve felt about this project since I joined on. 

It’s funny, in a way.  Funny in that, for the most part, we’re not playing music I’d choose to play on my own.  Sure, one of my own songs is in the set.  And yeah, one or two of the songs we do were at my suggestion.  And yeah, there are more than a few others that I’ve grown really fond of for various reasons.  But still, even as we’re – very slowly – growing into a proper band, we’re never gonna be a rock band of the sort that I’d personally choose for myself. 

But then I think of how I’ve grown as a result of my participation in this project; musically, but also as a person.  I bought a bass and learned the rudiments of that instrument because of this project.  I’ve learned to harmonize on the fly because of this.  I’ve learned to be comfortable taking a lead vocal, singing into a mic, singing to a crowd. 

Of course there’s some cross-pollination here with my own work.  I’d have had to get and learn to play a bass for my own studio work.  I’d have had to learn to harmonize for my own songs.  And in terms of lead vocals, I’ve learned more on my own, in my little studio, than I have with the band.  And it’s the same on the personal level.  In the studio, I’ve learned how to ‘handle’ artists (for lack of a better word), to get the most out of them as studio musicians.  And now, I’m learning how to ‘handle’ my bandmates (for lack of a better word), to get the most out of them as live musicians.  The point is, they feed each other.  My own work is better because of my work with the band and vice versa.

One thing I don’t ever want to lose track of here is, how much I owe Bibi in all of this, how thankful I am to her.  Part of this goes back to how direct she is in her speech, right?  There’s just no beating around the bush with her, no bullshit.  Not in my comfort zone?  Too bad, do it.  But that’s the point.  She’s pushed me when it was clear I wasn’t going to push myself.  She’s the one who encouraged me to just try harmonizing all over the place.  She’s the one who pushed me to take a turn here and there on lead vocals.  And now, she’s the one who’s pushed me to take more of a leadership role with band. 

As much as I try to grow on my own, sometimes I need that push.  It can’t all just be me being all cloistered in my room studying dead languages, right?  I need to grow out there in the real world too.  And she’s been just tremendous in helping me do that.  I owe her a lot, and I’m deeply thankful for it. 

I played in bands for many years.  Good bands, I like to think.   But here I am now, doing things with this band that I’ve never done before.  And helping them to do things they’ve never done before either.  I might be 41, but it turns out this old dog can still learn some new tricks…

זײַ געזונט

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