Perhaps I don’t need to write. Just look at the photo. A woman soaring in her song. A man pressing the strings of his guitar in sweet runs of notes. And that lamp! It welcomes people from the Oudburg to the sanctuary that is the Gregor Samsa bookshop.
Harry owns the shop. As well as shelves of pages that will stir your soul, he hosts concerts … once or twice a week.
Last night there were about ten of us. We were privileged to hear the outpourings of Anima Amici. Paola sings South American songs with a sprinkling of jazz. Ramsy loves his guitar. The two of them spent the evening smiling at each other, and at us.
It didn’t matter that the songs were mostly in Spanish. The beauty was transmitted from performers to audience. Melodies from Cuba, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina graced our ears. Maybe even Peru. And as we absorbed, we got to sip on our wine, beer or apple juice … all under a wooden ceiling with handhewn beams.
Long ago in Toronto, Canada, my wife Jody and I got to hear The Three Tenors in an immense stadium. We were so far from the stage. The sounds were exquisite but partway through I realized I’d been watching closeups of the singers on the Jumbotron. I was watching TV!
And the good news? Harry doesn’t have a Jumbotron. I was just a couple of metres away from Paola and Ramsy. I saw the shine on their brows, the mouth wide open, the fingers working their magic.
At the break, I asked Paola to translate a few of the lyrics she had sung, some tender moments. She told me about a love song from the first set: two people, one loves the other, the second does not love back.
“So sad. Isn’t there a happy song?” > “Yes. We’ll do it in the second set – in English.”
It’s called Throw It Away:
Throw it away, throw it away
Give your love
Live your life each and every day
And keep your hand wide open
Let the sun shine through
'Cause you can never lose a thing
If it belongs to you
It was wide open in Gregor Samsa last night