When I was a kid, I went to the store and asked the guy, Do you have any toy train schedules? (Steven Wright)
Nearly two years ago I decided to leave Switzerland for a while and to travel wherever it would take me. Just a few things were planned, a few gigs and meeting some people I hadn't seen for a while. I didn't expect anything and that's probably why I was overwhelmed by everything that has happened since then... I started my travels in Dortmund, Germany, to see Chris de Burgh, where I met some people I had known before and met some new ones. It was a fun evening, but at the same time it was weird not to know what the next day would bring. It might sound weird, but it was in my hotel in Dortmund when I found some notes I had taken on the train. The notes were actually about my associations with my home country. I wrote down "chocolate", "watches", "money", you know, the tourist image of Switzerland. I even gave the notes (or the "song") the working title "The Chocolate Song". But it was then in my hotel room in Dortmund when my heart spoke - I wrote the song "Only One Place". I finished this song in Trier on the second day of my travels. The first time I did not know anyone. When I walked through the town at dusk, I heard the beautiful voice of a woman. I followed this voice and came to a piano bar... 20mins later I was on stage singing some songs. I remember I was trembling and shaking on stage; but at this moment I knew that these travels will be something special - and the people I met in Trier are still great friends. I could tell you a lot of stories about this journey, but I actually want to talk more about my new record "Rail Tracks". All of the songs - one exception - were written on trains. So, compared to the other albums, "Fine Lines at Dawn" and "Lost in Limbo", "Rail Tracks" is more personal. I sing either about my personal feelings or about feelings or stories of people I had met.
I just remembered a song I haven't recorded. It is about how a child sees the world. I wrote it when I took the EuroStar from London to Bruxelles. When I was a child, I always wanted to do that, the thought of a tunnel under the sea was - and is still - incredible!! In my mind I had this picture of people sitting on a train and seeing the fish in the sea... Well... In reality, it was just a tunnel, what else could it be?? Just darkness, no fish and crabs... But still, thinking of the tunnel, I have the same picture on my mind as I had when I was a child.
Also a journey, but rather a philosophical one, happened two days ago. We performed in a church near Zurich. The priest there is a good friend of mine, we always have very interesting chats together - and a lot of beer... anyway. Every year, he is organising a different kind of church service, it's called "Kirche einmal anders". I had the pleasure to be a part of it for the 3rd time. I am not very religious and that is actually the interesting part about it. Ulrich, the priest, and I decided a topic, so far we took "Death", "Desire" and - on Friday - "Friendship". He talks about the religious and philosophical aspects, we sing of the secular aspects of the chosen topics. One of the songs I sang was "Where are you now?" from our first album. I wanted to sing it without microphone to create a more intimate atmosphere. Samuel joined me with his violin. We did not have a lot of time for a regular soundcheck and we were all pretty stressed before the show. It took me some time to really get into the atmosphere and I was worried at the beginning that the audience could feel that, too. But after the show someone told me that the song "Where are you now?" gave him strength to handle the loss of someone close. Once again I know why I do what I'm doing. In my opinion, that's what music is for. A lot of people tell me very private stories, things I don't think I'm supposed to know. I recently talked about that to a friend of mine who was performing in Switzerland. He said that sometimes it is not easy to keep a certain distance from other people's burdening private issues. But I guess it is a part of a musician's job to share emotions and feelings and when people can use our work for their own life, it's probably the best compliment we can recieve. Music is like a rail, it guides you to wherever you are supposed to go to. Here we are again at the beginning of the blog... Rail Tracks.
I'm going to England for a short promo tour in January. (Please find the dates on my website www.gionstump.ch ) Afterwards, I will do shows with my band "The Lighthouse Project" in Switzerland. The shows will contain a bigger solo part than usually. It will give me the opportunity to play some of my own "rail tracks" - I'm not talking about the songs I wrote on trains, but songs that guided me. There are so many of them... What I promised to myself - I haven't thought of the setlist yet - I want to change my rail tracks at every show. So I'd better stop writing now and start rehearsing...
What are your personal rail tracks? I'd be very interested in hearing the songs that have guided you. Feel free to post a comment here or on Facebook, or send me message, whatever you want.
Gion (the engine driver?)