Just a Simple Melody

Feeling each word!, by Shahireh @ Flickr

Feeling each word!, by Shahireh @ Flickr

It’s funny, the connections the internet brings. Finding the little things that connect me to someone half a world away always amazes me, always brings a smile and a sense of wonder.

Now sure, there are the big connections, the grand ideas that I share with lots of people. Ideas that are large and encompassing: important, headline material upon which the future of humanity hangs.

But much more likely to bring a smile of wonder to my face are the little things, little things like a song sung on the street by an unknown street performer.

I was on Facebook a few days ago, and came across a random meme involving ‘my rock band’. The idea was that I was to use the randomize features of wikipedia, quotationspage, and Flickr to put together my fictional band’s first album cover.

I thought it a pleasant distraction, and went through all the steps. (I’ll put up the meme at the end of this post.) The image I drew through Flickr was (oddly enough) titled Flicker, by a photographer named Shahireh. Shahireh’s photostream is made up of photos from the UK and from Iran, and most of the comments left to her are in Arabic Persian of Farsi (though she speaks both Arabic Persian of Farsi and English). It made a great album cover, and I was moved to flip through her other photos. One of them, the one to the left, caught my eye.

Read on, to find out why.

I recognized this man. What’s remarkable about that is that I only met him twice, several years ago, in the city of Bath, in the United Kingdom.

Bath, UK

Bath, UK

In 2005, my wife and I were married for the second time. We were young and relatively poor the first time we got married (1987), and had enough money for two nights in local motels. The second time, we had a little bit of money in our pockets and splurged on a honeymoon to London. While there, we took a day trip to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath.

When we were in Bath, we had a chance to stroll around this beautiful city. Bath is kind of like matching dishes. Almost all the buildings in town sport matching archetecture and color. Geographically, it’s like the inside of a bowl, and wraps all the way around the sides of some hills with a valley at the center. Many of the walking streets are wide avenues of flagstone, lined with shops and eateries, punctuated with squares for gatherings. There are street performers of all sorts: magicians and jugglers, singers and dancers, all giving a unique anachronistic flavor to this ancient city. Near the center of the shopping district which surrounds the Cathedral and the Roman Baths for which the city is named, there was one particular performer who enchanted us like no other. He sat with his guitar, ad libbing Reggae music, customizing it to appeal to whoever happened by.

My new bride happened to be wearing a white skirt that day as we strolled through the warm July streets and his song changed to

“Hey pretty lady with the white dress on,

Are you getting married today?”

and he played on that theme for a long while. We couldn’t help but stop and listen. He serenaded my wife for the better part of a half hour as we stood mesmerized and smiling. He was wonderful, and it was all we could do to tear ourselves away.

It was on the bus back to London that we learned the second bombing attacks had gone on. It was July 21, 2005.

Bath Water

Bath Water

Despite the attacks, it was amazing week and we vowed to return with our children. We scraped and scrounged and accrued some debt, but we pulled it off. The following summer (August, a few weeks after the airplane incidents) we brought the kids to London, and of course took them on the same day trip.

It was only when we heard a familiar voice from down a side street that it dawned on us that my wife was wearing the same exact skirt she had worn thirteen months earlier. We had told the kids about the man in Bath who sang to her, but in a million years didn’t think we’d see him again.

“Hey pretty lady with the white dress on,

Are you getting married today?”

and there he was.

So when I happened upon his photo in the photostream of a stranger, by the strange coincidence of having taken part in a FaceBook meme that brought me to her page via a random photo search, this man, this simple street performer on the other side of the world who I hadn’t seen but twice during random strolls through the streets of an unfamiliar city several years ago, again brought a smile to my face.

And now I wonder if he understands the connections he creates with his music between random strangers all over the globe.

The meme that brought this post to you, and the album cover I made:

1 – Go to “wikipedia.” Hit “random… Read More… Read More”
or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Go to “Random quotations”
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 – Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.

5 – Post it to FB with this text in the “caption” and TAG the friends you want to join in.

The World Will Not, by fictional band Genovesa Island, based on a photo titled Flicker, by Shahireh. Click the image to see the beautiful orginal.

The World Will Not, by fictional band Genovesa Island, based on a photo titled Flicker, by Shahireh. Click the image to see the beautiful orginal.

From whence came the art:

The first image is titled Feeling each word!, by Shahireh, and is copyright by her. Used with her kind permission.

The images of Bath were taken in Bath by me on our second trip to the UK, 20 August, 2006.

The album cover created by the meme was based on a photo titled Flicker, also by Shahireh.

15 Responses to “Just a Simple Melody”

  1. khan Says:

    Fascinating.

    Now I’ll have to play the ‘meme’.

  2. Michelle Says:

    What a great story! Something sort of similar but not quite, happened to us. We saw a street musician in Paris, France – a wonderful musical saw player known as the ‘Saw Lady’ ( http://www.sawlady.com/blog ). A few months later, back home in the USA, we ran across THE SAME musician in the NYC subway! That was wild.

  3. Shahireh Says:

    WoW!
    Thanks for this enchanting story! Read it with interest and enjoyed it🙂
    Just one correction, though: the language used on my page is Persian of Farsi not Arabic
    Thanks again & good luck

  4. Rystefn Says:

    I did a similar thing about a year back. I think the specifics for how to get the words and images was different (based on Google randomness, as I recall), but the general concept was much the same. I came up with this:

  5. Lou FCD Says:

    Hey, I like it, Rystefn!

  6. samk Says:

    “Skotniki, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship” – Band name

    “The Mark of a Civilized Man” – album title

    Probably not the greatest name for a band. Decent title for a record.

    Two interesting things, though:

    1) When I was in the Navy I knew a guy named Skotnicki. 13 years after I got out of the Navy I found out that he lived 7 miles away from me. We probably passed each other on the way to work every day for 8 years.

    2) Voivod is the name of a Canadian progressive metal band.

    That’s a neat little meme, though. I like it.

    • Lou FCD Says:

      Yep, it looked fun and I was not disappointed. Sometimes a silly little meme like that can tickle me. Glad you enjoyed it, too.

    • Rystefn Says:

      3) Voivode is a Slavic word for military commander, so the band name would be Slavic (with a smear of English) for “Skotniki, Commander of Świętokrzyskie.” If the band is angry enough and metal enough, it could work.


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