When I boarded the train to Austria to kick off the Rail Tracks Tour, I promised to myself to become an active blogger and write about the shows and the travels as much as possible. I remember the Rail Tracks Tour Blog I wrote in 2013 and I thought I'd do it in the same way again. However, I did not write a single blog. The tour itself became a narrative, a dream from which I could not awake. It was full of nightmares and sweetness, counterpoints, darkness and brightness, a lonely musician wandering lonely as a cloud between day and night and night and day. I remember starting my laptop back in the hotel after the show in Bremen. I wanted to tell you how amazing it was. I played for more than 2 hours and enjoyed the warmth of an amazing audience. However, as soon as I started typing on the keyboard, the narrative of the tour seemed to vanish into nothingness. The hotel room became a dark place, a place of horror, voices calling my name through blackened walls, I heard the trains rattling, whistling howling through the noise of the city and the city lights blinded my eyes like a sun of a far away universe - burning bright, fighting the night away to leave me lying in light. The tour has started, my mind is set, the narrative is now my guide. I've always believed in a greater narrative, a story that tells itself, a protagonist that is not aware of being in the spotlight, but who dances on a stage - in darkness.
Rolling and rolling, through endless forests, crossing bridges leading over flowing rushing whooshing swooshing rivers that will one day reach the endless immortal perpetual deathless sea. Struggling with myself, a demon is hidden inside, trying to destroy me and my narrative. People asking me how I am, I say fine. Fine because they don't care at all. They speak because they have to speak. They walk because they have to walk. And they live because they have to live. Lying down in Aachen, trying to kill the demon of which I am possessed. When I cross the border to the Netherlands, the demon revolts, it might be his first visit in a foreign country. He gets angry. He hurts. But I can transform and perform the demon away - at least for two hours. Back in my hotel, I feel it coming back. Suddenly I realise, he is not trying to destroy the narrative, he has become a part of it. So I surrender and once again, I vanish. This time, myself has left me completely. All my strengths are gone, all my power said goodbye to a man who lives and lies in a hotel room in a town that transforms from heaven to hell. The next morning I'm about to move on, the train must keep on rolling. Waiting at the reception to check out, I suddenly faint. A beautiful young receptionist runs towards me, her face expresses the state of shock she must be in. With a trembling voice she asks me: "Mr. Stump, are you alright? You're a musician, right? Did you take any drugs?" I admit that I drank a lot of ginger tea. There is no way to move on, I have to stay in this town that slowly swallows me for another day. I miss you, Hanover! I look at the pictures of the venue in Hanover and think 'I'd love to be with you now, Hanover'. But I'm a flu-ridden singer, trapped and prisoned in darkness. The following day I know that I cannot stay in this town any longer. It could cure me and it could kill me at the same time. Heading north to Copenhagen, by train, and by train on a ferry. The hotel is nice, I check my voice and I feel good. I know that I can do this short show. The taxi driver shows me around Copenhagen and drops me right next to the venue. I am waiting for the soundcheck when suddenly I saw faces, hasting traces tasting fair air in form of staged-ranged angels. In the first moment I am not sure if my imagination is playing tricks on me or if the ginger tea was too strong. No, they are here, in reality. We perform together, spontaneous new arrangements and I introduce the songs in broken Danish. Goodbye Copenhagen, driving through Germany. Once again I get aware of how close death is always following us. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, it is always close, like a shadow. Is it an enemy and a friend, a stranger and a kinsman.
After a break in which I find new energy, I finally hit the rails again. I feel new-born. Trier, Berlin, Rotterdam and more towns and places, people and faces, shapes and traces. London... Early morning. The Clink Prison delivers me shivers, I heal the wounds in the London Tombs, crossing bridges, Tower and London, Queen Elizabeth II and Millennium. I hear the bells of Saint Paul and the Brompton Oratory, St Clement and St George - for whom they toll, I do not know. But I know that they toll as well for me, because No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne, the master of metaphysical poetry, comes to my mind. He heard the bell as well. And many before him, and many after him. I finish my odyssey through London to get ready for the show. At the venue, my imagination once again plays tricks on me - crazy tricks, but they are not tricks, they are real. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
A bunch of other places... London, Bath, Oxford, Ipswich. My love to Bath has not altered over the years. Walking through Royal Victoria Park in the dark, in the gloom and the moonlight. Observing the endless, flowing Avon river, like a blanket that covers the silent earth at night, in darkness, to rest, to sleep, to rise. And a river went out of Bath to water the song. And like the river flows into eternity, so does the song. I leave Rail Tracks now - we had a good time together, but it is time to move on. It will live its own life from now on. I hear the train whistle howling, I hear the ringing and the rumbling, the clatter and the rattle. There it goes. I take my hat off to you. The red taillights of the train are smiling, they know that we will meet again, some day, at some point, at some time.
Many Thanks to:
Sophie Pol-Simon for supporting and promoting the album ab ovo. Glen Newman for his ingenuity to come up with the album title and the wonderful artwork. The whole crew at Timezone for their support. Massy Collu of Monkey Cage Studio who produced the album and all the musicians who played on the record: Matthias Gollwitzer, Markus Mattern, Susann Schönfeld, Fabi Scheuerlein, Beat Fraefel-Haering, Claudio Weder, Claude Loetscher. Fabia Baumann for the beautiful Rail Tracks artwork pictures. ... And everyone who was part of the Rail Tracks tours - on stage and off stage.