Dhani along with Lukas Haas & Patrick Carney performing the Traveling Wilburys tune, “Congratulations” during Dylan Fest held at the Bowery Ballroom. NYC, 11 November 2013 Video is from the youtube account of xxsusannycxx. There are a couple other performances by Dhani at Dylan Fest but they are very short. They are available here & here
Sometimes when travelling in some far flung country, you’ll hear a song that resonates deep within you, and from that moment on that song is indelibly marked on your memories of that place… These are some songs that moved me while travelling, and the places that I found myself in when I heard them…
The Thamel region of Kathmandu, Nepal, will always hold a special place in my heart. A stop off point for backpackers and mountaineers alike, the place is bustling with hawkers, shops selling hiking gear and bars selling Everest beer. I ended both of my longest Asia trips in Thamel, coming to rest there after months on the road, visiting the bakeries, shopping for bootleg DVDs and drinking with the locals and other travelers alike in the small, second story bars that run up and down the main streets.
The first time I heard “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, was in the last week of my second journey to Nepal. I was unwinding after completing the Everest Basecamp trek, and myself and a few guys were in a small, smoky bar above the busy street, listening to a Nepalese band. Many of the young men in Kathmandu fancied themselves as rockstars, growing their hair long, learning the guitar and joining a band. What they lacked in vocals (or English language skills) they more than made up for in heart.
When they played “Fast Car” I couldn’t understand a word. But I was drunk, I was high and I was having one of those moments you get while travelling, when you realise that you’re on the other side of the earth, free to do anything you please and you couldn’t feel more happy and content than in that moment. It was bittersweet, as I knew my trip was ending soon, but when I stumbled out into the street that night, this song was forever linked to that indescribable feeling of freedom.
Tibet is one of the most ethereal, places I have ever seen. No sound but the wind blowing across the mountains and down onto the plateau. The air is clean and thin, while the sun burns your face and the cold air rakes your lungs. Driving across Tibet was exceptionally spiritual.
The plateau is rugged, unwelcoming, but undeniably awe inspiring, and the sense of emptiness permeates everything. I was sharing a 4x4 with 3 other travellers watching the world go by, mountains and valleys, huts and centuries old towns. We visited dark, incense filled monasteries where the only sound was the deep guttural chanting of the monks, dimly lit by flickering yak butter candles.
This song matched my mood perfectly. Everything moved slow and calm, and my mind was on many things during our long drives.
My first real solo backpacking experience saw me buying a one way ticket to Bali in Indonesia, to start a 6 month trip overland/sea through Asia. The range of emotions I was feeling as I boarded the plane from Perth to Denpasar were confusing. Excitement, trepidation, loneliness. Having landed in Bali and caught a taxi out of the city and into the countryside, I soon felt an entirely different emotion, elation.
This was it, I was on the road! On my own, with only my wits, no restraints and nothing holding me back. The sun was on my face, backpack on my shoulders and no timetable or schedule to obey. This was living!
I’d taken a small mp3 player from Australia with me, containing 9 songs (big mistake, they drove me mad after a while). “Better Than” was one of those songs, and it spurred me on, energising me, putting a spring in my step. I was very green, inexperienced and fresh, but I was taking on the world.
4. The Only One (Ben Nichols) - Sidi Ifni, Morocco
I hadn’t seen my girlfriend for a number of months by the time I made it down the long and dusty road to Sidi Ifni in the South of Morocco.
Sidi Ifni is a faded coastal town, backed by the burning Sahara on one side, and the Atlantic ocean on the other. Few other places I have visited have had this abandoned frontier outpost feel. I was lonely, not having spoken to another English speaking person in about a week. I spent my days wandering the abandoned streets, flanked by dilapidated houses, all crumbling facades and peeling paint. I’d head down to the beach in the evening to watch the sun set and the sea mists roll in.
I missed my girlfriend terribly. In that stupid way sad people do, I found myself latching onto a particular melancholy song. This was “The Only One” by Ben Nichols. I’m ashamed to say that I wallowed in it a while, but if I had my time again, I don’t think I would have done things differently. My sadness mirrored the abandoned town, and the town mirrored and informed my mood. My feelings were suitable for that desolate place.