the nerve bible has a gig on june 18 in stieghorst. just a small
one but a gig. last rehearsal frank came up wih a brilliant chord pattern!
very good, very open, very epic chords and i'd love to make some lyrics
and a melody for it.
|time for another picture.
We have finally moved into our new flat. it has been a lot of work and a lot of steps. it was the first really hot summer day and although we had nine people to help us we were exhausted when we had carried the last things to the third floor. now we're here and there's no way that we will leave again.
two days before we were moving i went to in cologne with christiane and uwe to go to the amerikanisten conference. as usual (and as
Have any other undertowers found themselves in the same position i.e. wanting to meet Suzanne and say a couple of words of appreciation but wondering what on earth you can say to someone who you admire so much both personally and musically. By the last encore I had myself completely stressed out.yes, as a matter of fact I'm doing right now - sitting here listening to Suzanne shifting from minor to major chords in the end of Coventry Carol it makes my heart melt - it does it does and it wraps the sadness around my shoulders like a woolen blanket and steals the words out of my head. there is nothing as familiar as suzanne's voice. the concert in hamburg will be this sunday. and should i stand in front of her what am i supposed to say, how am i supposed to act and why do i bother at all? why am i messed up by the prospect of an encounter? the inability to express what is happening inside , the inability to pray, the inability to become what you are, to become what your voice promises, the inability to get you back from the dead to HELP me to HELP me to HELP me and it's a bloody lie that you can achieve all you want if you just try hard enough it's as fake a truth as the pink concrete castles of Disneyland - but you never cared about that, did you? we have tried hard and i have tried without you hard and day after day and rehearsal after rehearsal but now i am tired, that's all i am now. and then there comes that body to that voice which has kept me going mercilessly. it will be here and it will be all i have worked for all i have lived for and then it will go and i will keep on trying. without you. because you are dead and with you went the hope that you can achieve anything if you're just trying hard enough. i wish i was with you...
|there's only one photo of us together: you playing the guitar and
laughing into the camera. one photo is not enough to keep the memory how
can one photo be enough to embody all there was all we've done all we have
dreamed of. i'm losing you again and i can't do anything about it. and
sunday makes me realize how fucked up my life is i'm so far from where
i want to be, from what i want to be those possibilities within our sight
with no way of coming true cause some things just won't get through into
this world although they try. you wanted to see her too, you said you wanted
to come to the next Suzanne Vega concert to see what i was so enthusiastic
about. she's here now, butyou are not
Ich schreibe Dir jetzt nur mal so, weil es ist Freitag morgen, about
8:44 and I thought about doing this a couple of days ago:
i just wanted to say: sorry for being so unlovable the last weeks. but i'm stressed out, i'm not sure about anything suddenly anymore, my whole life seems to have a life of its own: things have developed so fast and without my control. suddenly i'm standing on a completely different road from where the one i wanted to go. there are many computer projects related to my studies: Chaos/Control/Complexity, the CDRom for Hohlerde, the issue of American Studies, my two Hausarbeiten and the rest of the exams are still ahead of me. so much work i don't know where to start, so many projects that i start on one, do it halfway through and start something new. no really satisfying results, just little pieces of work which don't make a whole picture, yet. Plus the new job for Ecki. All this seems to fix me on a path I wasn't sure about. BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW IF I WANT TO DO THIS but what is the alternative.
i'm feeling more and more that what i desire to do, what i ache to do, what i live for to do is not what this all leads to. i'm simply not sure whether i'm going into the right direction and thus i'm walking very hesitantly. the same with the nerve bible: rehearsal isn't what it used to be. frank isn't really somebody i can work together with. even if this may sound arrogant, but he is too young and the point from which we're writing are far too different. (Yesterday he announced that he wanted to write an anti-war-song (!!!!!!!!!!!) and his ideas of a song *are* different from the ones i have. and it costs so much energy to influence him, to change his ideas and suggestions without offending him. it's too much compromising. it's too much giving in. i want to be able to stand behind the songs, and the lyrics in particular. but it's getting harder and harder to do this. i wish the rest of the band was like you or uwe or christiane. i thought about starting something new, as you once suggested, something on my own, perhaps. but i realized that i need them. i need frank's chord-ideas, i need reiner's calm bass-lines and his relations, i need daniel's good mood and enthusiasm. but it's not *my* music as it was when i was writing with rob.
so i'm stuck. what i want to do i can't do because nobody's paying for it and i would simply starve to death. and for the other way - doing the exams and doing my Dr. does not leave enough space and energy to do the other things as well. it seems like i have to decide. and i'm afraid of this. i'm terribly afraid that in ten years i will look back and see that i have wasted my life because i have not done what i really felt like doing, which was *my* work. and i will become bitter. and i'm bitter already. because both ways (and let's - just for the sake of clarity - label them 'scholar' and 'artist') are single ways, are exclusive ways. if i chose the one way i will have to let go of the other. IF I AT LEAST KNEW THAT I COULD WALK THESE WAYS!!! i don't even know if i am something close to an artist. maybe it's just me in a dream-world. i thought and always hoped confirmation came from suzanne. i always had hoped for a kind of medal declaring me 'artist' so i knew that it's not ridiculous to try to go the artist way.
i'm talking nonsense by now. but I WANT TO DO MUSIC AND I WANT TO WRITE AND I WANT TO DO MUSIC AND I WANT TO WRITE I WANT TO WRITE!!!!!!! i want to make things like suzanne does, things like jochen does, things like leonrad does. but it's hard to do them when you're doubtful that you *can* do them.
I'm sorry. that's what's going on inside my head and it drives me crazy to think about it and that's why i'm trying not to think about it too much. it is tearing my heart apart when i'm thinking of all the things i will never be able to do. i've been writing this to you so i don't have to speak about it because speaking about means to confront it means to feel it. I don't see any solution and that's why i say to myself that it's no use thinking about it. It's just so you know why i'm strange and unlovable from time to time. and i'm sorry for this. because i do love you. and i wish i could show you this more.
well, actually I have to prepare the text "Chaosmosis" by Félix Guatarri for my literature course today but I can't do this before I haven't told you about the concert yesterday.
So this is my account of things as experienced on Sunday, June 13, 1999:
My girlfriend Inga and I drove to Hamburg. I had
told her a lot about Suzanne's concerts but still she had been hesitant
("You see, Philipp, there'll be so many people, and it'll be hot...and
it's a four hour drive to Hamburg....and I still have so much work to do")
but when I had told her that this might be a once in a lifetime chance
and who knows when she'll be in Europe again, maybe: never? and she will
be playing Rosemary ("Really?", "Yes, I'm sure. She did so at the Irish
and American gigs...")
Inga decided to join me.
So we drove for four hours on the "autobahn" harassed by BMWs and Mercedes that were driving 210 km/h trying to force us off the road. But we arrived safely in Hamburg and drove around for another hour trying to find the venue. About 13:30 we arrived at the Hamburg Stadtpark. Entry was at 15:00. So we sat in the park in the sun. It was a beautiful summer day (for a change) with temperatures about 130°F in the sun. At 14:30 we went to the entrance and stood in the line until 15:20. Fortunately it was a beautiful summer day with temperatures about 130°F.
By now Inga's mood had significantly lowered so I tried to cheer her up by making jokes about the Mike and the Mechanics fans around us. Because actually it was a Mike and the Mechanics concert with Suzanne as special guest. Finally they let us in and I stormed up front. It was an open air concert and people got out their blankets, got themselves a beer and lay down waiting for Mike and the Mechanics. I wasn't sure how crowded it would become so I insisted on standing in third row in front of the stage. Fortunately it was a beautiful summer day and the sun was shining with 130°F on our heads. But for some unknown reason Inga's mood did not get better. (Did I mention that she had been driving all the way up to Hamburg?) In front of us was a group of preadolescent girls with too much make-up and shrill voices. They were waving their Mike and the Mechanics records and talking affectedly. We were standing in front of the stage for another hour when some strange looking guys come on the stage. They did not look like anybody from Mike and the Mechanics nor did they look like Michael or Suzanne. "Oh no, there isn't an additional band, is there?" Inga asked me. "No!" I said praying that there wasn't. But there was. They were called "the Swans" they came from Ireland and they were crap beyond words. They sounded like Meat Loaf after a couple of Guinness and their lyrics were taken out of Pathetic Pop Lyrics Vol. I - III. But guess what: people loved it. The girls in front of us were cheering and clapping and screaming. Inga did not look happy. "She will sing Rosemary!" I promised again. Finally The Swans left the stage and Michael appeared on stage.
Now, let me tell you: I have never seen someone who is more cool than Michael Visceglia. Although it was a beautiful summer day with 130°F he was dressed in black: black trousers and black shirt and black sun-glasses. And his face did not move. There wasn't any recognizable facial expression! Just a very cool and almost ironic poker face. It was great! Inga's mood got better immediately. Michael was checking the sound, testing guitar and bass and the microphone. Unfortunately the sound people had some feedback problems with Suzanne's acoustic guitar. Then Michael left the stage again, accompanied by some spontaneous applause from the audience.
I was very excited, Inga was too and I whispered "I hope she won't be wearing sun glasses..." when Suzanne and Michael appeared. Those would-be-whole-girls in front of us almost fainted with fake excitement. Suzanne, too, was dressed in black: black shirt and black shorts (!) plus a kind of silken (?) robe. Very elegant. And she did not wear sunglasses! They started with Marlene on the Wall and the sound was horrible. The voice was hardly understandable and the bass was way too dominant. But by the third song the sound people had figured it out. Still it wasn't as good as usual at her gigs. But I assume it's quite
different to get a good sound at an open air venue. I can't recall the order of songs but they were playing
Marlene on the Wall
Small Blue Thing
When Heroes Go Down
Rock in this Pocket
World Before Columbus
The Queen and the Soldier
Suzanne and Michael were doing a great job, although one could feel that Suzanne wasn't quite comfortable with the crowd and had a hard time. By the middle of the show the girls in front of us were smoking and talking about this and that with their backs turned to the stage and fanning themselves with their Mike and the Mechanics records. Also the rest of the audience was mostly unappreciative.
Michael was playing the best bass lines I have heard * E V E R *. Just to hear this was worth driving to Hamburg and standing for four hours under the 130°F hot sun. In Stockings he played the strange oriental sample and the bass line in Rock in this Pocket made the song really powerful, especially in the end. And he was so cool!
After the first couple of songs Suzanne took out her sun glasses, put them on and said "Now I can see you. But I will take them off from time to time so you can see me, too..." After Rock in this Pocket she explained what the song was about and told us that she wanted to clarify it because an English journalist once wrote that the song was about the seize of a man's penis. (yes, those were her words...). "He obviously did not get what the song is about" she said. She announced In Liverpool and said that it was her daughter's favorite song because of the hunchback. In Liverpool was one of the highlights (although the guitar was feedbacking every time she was playing a bass note) as were Some Journey and World Before Columbus, Rock in this Pocket and The Queen and the Soldier. Despite 130°F there went a shiver down my spine with every new song and from time to time I fantasized that she had just looked directly at me and smiled mildly.
The last two songs before the encore were Tom's Diner and Luka and when she started to play the latter the teenie-girls with their painted faces screamed and started to sing along happily. I could have killed them. I *should* have killed them. During Tom's Diner Michael gave us the entry for the DNA chorus. (On the way home Inga said that it was refreshingly ironic to play Luka at the end because people did not really listen during the other songs and when they started to sing along happily they
did it to the most bitter song of the whole set). Michael and Suzanne left the stage and I said to Inga: "I suppose the encore will be Undertow and Rosemary!" and she nodded expectantly. BUT THERE WASN'T ANY ENCORE! THEY NEVER CAME BACK ON STAGE! NO ROSEMARY! The stage was redecorated for Mike and the Mechanics and Inga and I started to head for the entrance or at least for some shelter from the sun.
On our way out we met two other Towies: Robert (who flew in (!) from Vienna) and Wiebke. We were consulting whether we should try to get backstage. Since it actually was a Mike and the Mechanics concert we were not certain whom we could approach. I thought that it was in vain but Wiebke insisted that we might just try to talk to some of the security guys. And he said we should try it at the backstage entrance. The security guy there looked a bit startled and pointed out a guy in black standing a few meters away. So we told him that we were from Undertow and he looked like he was thinking "Mailing list? Gee, I have heard better stories from freaks who desperately wanted to get backstage..." but he was quite kind and said that he would ask Michael or Glynn. He was away for ten minutes, came back, shook his head and said he couldn't talk to anyone of Suzanne's crew right now and whether we could come back in half an hour. I thought: That's it! When we'll come back he'll tell us that Suzanne has left already. Half an hour later the guy in black came from behind backstage, smiled and signaled us to come with him. I looked at Inga and Inga looked at me and we looked at Wiebke and Robert and went backstage.
The first one we saw was Michael. And he was *smiling* at us. When we told him how superb we thought his bass playing was he said "You guys are too kind" and he made a step side wards and there was Suzanne. Smiling. "Hi, I'm Robert" Robert said and shook her hand and then she looked at me and I said "Hi, I'm Philipp. I'm the one responsible for SISV so please don't shot me..." (a supposed-to-be-funny line I made up while we were on the autobahn) and she looked a bit startled but then I think she knew what I was talking about. And then she said those words which made my heart burn up like a shooting star: "Have we met before? I think I recognized your face in the audience...". She was really nice and very patient with us. We asked her whether she was satisfied with the gig and she said she thought it wasn't too bad and that she found it was hard for her to get through to the audience. When I asked her why she did not play Rosemary she said that it was too slow, that she left
out all slow songs because the faster worked better with this particular audience. She also told us that it was the first time she was performing in shorts and that the sun was burning on her feet and legs, showing us her bare ankles. She said that she will be working on the new album in fall and when I asked what she thought of The Swans (the opening band, s.a.) she answered "I thought they weren't too bad" diplomatically, probably not knowing whether I was a big The Swans fan. She asked me where I got my knife pendant (which I was/am wearing) from and told us how she once met Robert Lee Morris at a barbecue. Then Ruby came running around but did not feel like talking to us. Suzanne signed our books, the guy in black took a photo of us all (except for Inga who whispered to me that since she is no Undertoad she cannot be on the photo) and we left.
I hope that we did not stay too long. Suzanne made us feel welcome but still no one of us wanted to exploit her hospitality and overdo it. I hope we did not.
The strange thing was that I was not excited. I was nervous when we met her but not overly excited. I thought I did not know what to say but suddenly there were a thousand questions in my head. I thought I would not be able to speak but then I did (even though I'm not sure whether anything I've said resembled a syntactically, semantically or phonologically correct English sentence). I thought it would be all clumsy and awkward but Suzanne's warm kindness made it far more natural than I thought it could get. And I *must* say something about those beautiful, clear eyes: W O W !!!
So this is my account of what happened yesterday. I would like to thank Suzanne very, very much for giving us the opportunity to exchange a couple of words with her. I hope it was all appropriate. Thanks also for a great concert (even though it was without Rosemary). I'm sorry for posting such a long mail. I will read "Chaosmosis" now...
E N T R O P I C E M P I R E
to swerve & to infect
So it's almost midnight now and i'm in distress.
I'm feeling like the music which is Cheralee Dillon singing: give me more line! give me more line! On the way home from Hamburg Inga and i were discussing the concert and the opening act and she said that she could not understand that such crappy bands could play there and we (being the nerve bible) could not get a gig. and then she said that she almost thought that it was a sign for me. a sign that it is simply not to be.That it is a sign to tell me to do something else. and those words hurt very much although they were not intended to. they hurt because i know they were true. maybe it simply is not meant to be. maybe something wants to tell me that i should not waste my time writing and composing and singing.
I was thinking about all this when i was sitting on the bus this afternoon. and from the corner of my eye i saw one of these religious poster on the back of the driver's cabin and I said to myself: whatever is standing on this poster is true and i looked up and read:
there's so much joy and appreciation and gratitude i that
is connected to your eyes i want to talk to you
i want you to know my words because this means knowing me and maybe this
can helpme.help me.
i don't know if you listen. i don't know if you talk. i don't know if you got a voice. please whatever youre thinking: tell me
no new messages on server
just to let you know
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 18:55:58 +0200
From: Inga Westerteicher <email@example.com>
To: Philipp Hofmann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
your mail moved me very much,
I am sure that you will believe me when I say that I understand what
you are going through. and I can even feel it. that makes it worse. maybe
I do not understand to the full because sometimes it seems to me that you
have a stronger poetic drive than I do. but I do see how much you suffer
and I do know how it is to have a mouth that is dry - so bad it hurts -
and a throat that is sore because you want to write - so bad it hurts.
that is how I felt when I went to Dortmund the morning after I saw Blumfeld
and I felt so sick and lost and empty that I could not help crying. I wanted
to grab something with my hands, but they only touched air. and that is
how it is. that is how it goes on and on and on every day. ebersbach is
a compromise. everything else but writing is a compromise. but better compromise
than die of starvation or sleep under a bridge. that is how it works. that
is how the story goes. and it goes on and on it goes. and it hurts me when
I see you with a band that cannot satisfy you, because I know your skill.
I would more love to see you with someone of your spirit. it is problematic
with reiner, even if he is an ace of bass, when he does not see any point
in the texts or even does not understand them. and you can of course not
write an anti-war-song on the turn of the millenium. that time is over
- that was the sixties, seventies and maybe the early eighties. he
is too young. and you will turn more and more unsatisfied. why don't you dare to try something of your own? you just say: i can't i can't i can't. that is how you prison yourself. keep on doing. i know how much you have to do (so have I), but you have to go on with it. if something comes across your mind, some chords, some melody - i don't know - use it. I know you can make it. it is good to start with university, it is not like you have to decide on the spot. things will develop very slowly. but I would say you should not invest too much time in the nerve bible. that time is over, it was when rob died, and you have to get used to the thought that you have to prepare yourself for something new.
when will i be prepared for something new? I love you too, and I would like to have the money to help us out. I would buy you anything you need to make the sort of music you want to do.
i thought i might as well tell a bit about myself: i am 26 years
old. i am a male heterosexual student of literature and english. i am a
suzanne vega fan. i see myself as a song-writer. well, i have written a
couple of songs. i have a band which is called the nerve bible and i have
a stable and deep relationship with my girlfirend inga. i am living in
so, this is me on June 19, 1999, 22:14. Now you know everything there is to know to understand me. Maybe this is a starting point.
I'd like to tell you something about the things i'm currently working
#1: there will be special issue of the magazine American Studies with articles from the conference on Chaos/Control:Complexity which I helped to organize. I am currently doing editorial work for this special issue, which means formating the articles, checking footnotes and style sheets and stuff.
#2: i am making a cdrom with the same topic on which these articles will be collected. It will be an html document, rather three documents. One called 'control' and linked in a controled way, one called 'complexity' linked in a complex way and one called 'chaos' linked in a chaotic way. The texts will basically be the same for all three versions, only the kind of linking will differ, and thus their structure. this will also be my final paper to get my MA degree.
#3: i am working with Uwe on a CDRom wich will contain illustrations for a book he will publish with Hanjo about The Hollow Earth Theory.
#4: i have made an html document called Stuff Inspired by Suzanne Vega on which people from the Suzanne Vega mailing list have contributed stuff which was made because Suzanne's songs/lyrics have influenced them. i have sent it to ny, suzanne has received it and will hopefully have a look at it when the european tour is over. it will then be made available to all people on the mailing list.
#5: i am working on new songs for the nerve bible. we are currently making a new demo cd and are eager to get gigs for the summer and fall.
#6: i have started a longer text about a year ago and i really want to finish it and bring it all together. but it seems that i need more peace of mind to finish it.
#7: i am working in the mediothek of the Linguistic Faculty for 8 hours in the week.
#8: i am working for Eckhard Schumacher helping him to organise a panel discussion on the relationship between Pop and Literature. This is 15 hours a week.
#9: i need to write a term-paper about the motif of initiation in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior.
#10: i need to write a linguistic paper about the differences between eMails and snailMails.
#11: i am working on convincing you that i am the one.
i am tired and i have been all day. it was summer today, sunny and clear and inga and i spent the whole day together. i am thinking about you. quite a lot. sometimes i'm hearing from you. and sometimes you're out of my head. but you're returning with the steadiness of the moon or the sun and for a second i'm exploding again inside with longing and rage. i will learn to be calmer. i will learn to be more quiet. to write less. i will learn to reduce myself by and by until i don't need to write anymore.
you're bored, aren't you. You are bored by all this blabbering and
self pity and pathetic throwing of words. moi aussi.
The other night, just before I fell asleep i felt sick again thinking of the future. it's so dangerous, these few seconds before the dream starts, these few seconds just before the unconscious is swapping into consciousness. when my body is all relaxed and quiet and not on the guard anymore. in these unguarded seconds it breaks through and to the front and crushing from within against my forehead pushing the bitter taste in my mouth and pumping the acid into my heart. and it takes so much strength to battle it down, to press it back from where it came from. that's when i have these special fantasies, these special thoughts which shall push the fear aside, which shall make me fall asleep, which shall surpress all i do not want to confront:
that's what's pushing the fear aside and the future and eventually i will fall asleep.
i am in outer space. i'm flowing in space and there's the earth below me. it's light. and it's blue and green and wonderful. i don't need oxygen. i'm floating in space almost without a body, almost spirit like - and then i'm gaining speed: and i can be as fast as i want to, i can fly to wherever i want in outer space, in the universe. and i'm flying through the solar system: from one planet to the next, through their atmospheres and back into the stars again. nothing can harm me. i reach places which are unknown yet, which people don't even know about. and i will be able to see everything because i will not die. i can fly forever through the universe without hunger, without desire, without death. and i'm trying to visualize all that's out there: the colors, the shapes, the weightlessness
i've listened to old nerve bible recordings yesterday. i cannot
grasp what i have lost. im cold and i wish i could screamand why dont you
help me you could at least be in my drema so i could kill you i will kill
you who thre fuck has allowed you to die who has allowed you to go? come
back so i can kill you. i cAN't reach you now. iu will never be able to
reach you anbymore. i will never be able to kill you. you will stay with
me forever, every night and every morning and thats not fair. come back
so i can kill you and go on living without you
and what can o tell you my brother my killer what can i possibly say i guess that i miss you i guess i forgive you im glad you stood in my way and im listening to our version of "famous blue raincoat" and your fragile solo and to "suture" and we haven't played suture since youve died because how could we how could we
from over here she saysand this were the last things that we have recorded and imlosing it again
it looks like you were laughing
and i dont know how to suture
what i read and what i write
still i know that the future
will be beautiful and bright