A drizzling Berlin November evening. Three friends crammed around one of the gnarly wooden pub tables that have provided refuge on the wrong side of the Tram tracks of Warschauer Straße for nearly a quarter of a century.
Our stage of intent, blissful insobriety has hit the level where anyone who dares asking will learn our names actually are Tom Collins, Glühwein, and Strawberry Daiquiri. And the laughs only die for a brief 17 seconds when the speakers above us begin to pour Doug Pettibone’s trembling guitar sixths over Fruits Of My Labor and Lucinda Williams reminds at least one of us of the fragile poetry of companionship so indispensable in a life that has changed at a terrifying pace over the course of barely two years.
Back in the days when an adolescent consciousness wouldn’t yet be cluster-bombed with a virtually limitless stream of algorithmically pre-selected media from the moment they had learned to press a button, it was access to vinyl records that would determine most of your cultural intake as a young person – music, that is.
Where I grew up, the radio (and later MTV if you had cable) would serve contemporary Pop and Rock music. If you wanted to dive into the history that had made those two what they had become at the time, however, you would find yourself at the local record store looking up acts from the 1960s and 70s who had proven to still be commercially relevant to a white audience 20 years later.
Or, if you were me, a grown-up you would have expected it from the last would quietly slip you an original copy of Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits album from 1971, on the B side of which they would send a message to you that you’d only begin to understand decades later.
Happy birthday, Torsten! 🎂 I don’t remember the exact moment we met, probably because I was experiencing a rush of conference-induced endorphins at the time. But I clearly remember what happened after.