“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”
― John Denver
A common experience that I had in the various countries I visited was the presence of music. It came in different languages, genres and deliveries, but every time it served as a unifying force.
I wrote about the boat ride that I took in a previous post and briefly mentioned the singers who welcomed us when we reached the halfway point. Inhabitants of the small island, they sang and danced in an effort to collect donations. I wondered if they would do so otherwise, but they truly seemed to be enjoying themselves.
And it was contagious, as several boat riders danced alongside them.
Sing-alongs at Sacre Couer
An Italian man named Youri performed on the steps of the Sacre Couer on my sister’s first night in Paris. We had ventured over to see the Basilica and, after hearing him sing Rupert Wainwright’s “Hallelujah” on key, decided to join the crowd. We did not, however, give in to the men peddling Heinekens for 5 euros a piece, despite their persistence.
Here’s Youri singing “Hallelujah” while another man provides an entirely different form of entertainment (and I’m not talking about the man who appears to be performing magic tricks next to the singer):
The Basilica is situated atop a hill in Montmarte and is the only hill where you can properly view the city of Paris. So, as the sun set, we had a beautiful view to accompany the music. At one point Youri paused and told the crowd that we were all very lucky to be visiting Paris and asked our origins. Brazil, Spain, Italy, U.S., Canada: many different nationalities were all sitting together singing.
Given the chaos taking place all over the world, whether it has to do with finances, regimes or famine, I found solace in the moment. Hopefully you can capture some of it with these two videos of the crowd singing “Imagine” and “Let it be” together. Don’t mind my sister and me singing along/laughing!
Familiar tunes in Deutschland
The first family member I visited in Germany was my cousin, the director of several choirs in his hometown. I went with him to two of the choir practices and was surprised to find them singing American songs. ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ was followed by ‘Uptown Girl’ and then ‘Since U Been Gone’.
I sat watching and singing quietly, tapping my foot along to the familiar tunes. The German accents added to the moment and the happiness that the individuals felt in singing was contagious.
“…there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.”
— Sir Edward William Elgar