Quirky T recently conducted The Guitar Train to seven marvelous countries in Europe. As I wrote in a previous Guitar Train stop, https://guitartrain.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/the-guitar-train-is-going-to-europe/
I was not familiar with music from the countries I would be visiting – France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. The trip was filled with amazing sights, history, food, familiar music, and even a real train ride through the Alps.
Swiss Folklore Restaurant, Lucerne
As I had anticipated, I did not hear native music in all of those counties. Switzerland was the one exception. In Lucerne, I went to an ear-opening Swiss folklore dinner and music show. Besides yodeling and alp horns, I did not know much about Swiss music. Apparentally, the Swiss had much free time back in the day while farming which led them to turn saws, brooms, bowls, bottles, cow bells and spoons into musical instruments. To see video of this musical talent and ingenuity, search You Tube for Stadtkellar Lucerne Swiss Folklore Show. To my horror, I was among a group of people called on stage to take turns doing a solo yodel in front of hundreds of tourists from around the world. My Swiss ancestors would have been embarrassed by my horrible yodeling.
The music part of my trip began on the plane ride to Paris where I watched a documentary about Bruce Springsteen called “In His Own Words”. It was interesting as he went through his family and musical background and read from his recent autobiography. My next encounter with music occurred on the minivan ride to the Paris hotel. The driver had the Nostalgia Station on the radio and Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” played as we passed by more graffiti than I have ever seen in my life.
Musee d’Orsay, Paris
That was just the beginning of the familiar American and English music I heard throughout Europe. On the tour bus in Paris near the Jardin des Tuileries, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper was playing on the bus radio. On the way to dinner that night, on the tour bus I heard the first of many ABBA songs as “Dancing Queen” made its first appearance.
The dinner in Paris included an amazing strolling, joking, and singing guitarist who sang songs in French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Russian to entertain the tourists from many countries. Not surprisingly the four Beatles songs he performed were very popular. Everyone happily sang along to “Michelle”, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, and “Yellow Submarine.” “La Bamba” was another song that got the crowd singing.
At a dinner in Freiberg, Germany, I had an interesting conversation with an elderly British tourist. He recounted how he first saw The Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show” when he lived in America. He didn’t like them then and I don’t think his opinion ever changed. He went on to tell me his theory that The Beatles wrote the words to their songs but not the music. I wasn’t able to ask him more about his conspiracy theory since the waitress interrupted us then to start dinner. He left me wondering who he thought came up with the music if not John, Paul, or George. And how did this person or group of people continue to make music for all four Beatles when they had separated and had four successful music careers for decades more? I have never heard or read this theory before and I give it no credence.
Someone who had much more love and respect for The Beatles was the Swiss captain of the boat cruise the tour group took on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. He said as a youth he had four great English teachers – John, Paul, George, and Ringo. He then played “From Me to You” and “She Loves You”. He asked for requests and “Hey Jude” played as we cruised the beautiful lake.
Other familiar songs I heard were Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” in the hotel in Lucerne and Dean Martin’s “Volare” in a home goods store in a Lucerne mall.
Duomo, Milan, Italy
I think my very organized, energetic, and perfect for her job Hungarian tour director had an affinity for ABBA. She had the Italian tour bus driver play ABBA several times during our long bus rides through Europe. One night after having a delicious dinner near the Duomo in Milan, Italy, the bus ride to the hotel contained more ABBA songs than I have ever heard in my entire life. It was nice to hear songs of theirs which I had never heard before. They were mostly uplifting, fun songs.
On the last day, on the bus ride to the Milan airport, the Italian bus driver took over control of the music and had the Radio Monte Carlo station on which played “Fantasy” by George Michael, “With or Without You” by U2, and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Finishing the amazing trip on a Beatles note, on the plane ride from Milan to Miami, I watched the good documentary “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today … Sgt. Peppers and Beyond”. The fact that I was flying to Miami reminded me of “Back in the USSR”. Luckily, it wasn’t a dreadful flight- just very long at 10 ½ hours!
After experiencing how much English was spoken throughout the seven European countries I visited and the large amount of signs written in English, I should not have been surprised to hear so many English language songs. I definitely also should not have been surprised to hear all the Beatles songs I did. Vive Les Beatles! Vive la musique!