Many of the songs I’ve sung to myself on the Camino have travel in there somewhere. And, curiously, a sense of losing someone, and looking back. They aren’t songs of triumph – look I’ve made it! But they do tell stories.
What, I wonder, do other peregrinos sing on the Camino? To keep themselves company, for sheer joy and pleasure, or just because they match the rhythm of their step…. A few have headphones and listen to music from downloads, not from memory, and that puzzles me. Singing may be a performance of one, but you’re pro-active, as surely you want to be on the Camino, and not re-active. (Wear headphones and you also miss birdsong, the rush and babble of streams and brooks, the sound of the wind in the grass and trees.)
There’s a sense of re-engaging when you recall an old favourite. And you may be taken by surprise, by something old and long-forgotten. The rhythms of the Camino can take you surprising places.
For me, Kris Kristofferson for starters: ‘Me and Bobby McGee’: From the coalmines of Kentucky to the California sun,/Bobby shared the secrets of my soul….
Leonard Cohen has travelled with Suzanne for fifty years, as I have too (almost!) – I’ve been singing this legendary song since I was 19! On the Camino it was like meeting up with an old friend. Susanne takes you down to a place by the river/you can see the boats go by, you can spend the night beside her…
As for the Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, ‘she would never say where she came from/… ‘There’s no time to lose I heard her say…’
Not sentiments you’d expect from a peregrino. Though how many of us are getting over, or moving beyond, an event that’s troubling us, that’s turned our life on its head? And we peregrinos – we do tell each other where we’ve come from – and hopefully, we have time to lose. We can go slow.
I’ve sung the blues along the way. But not travelling blues. Or Woody Guthrie’s ‘Hard Travellin’: I’ve been doin’ some hard travellin I thought you knowed…’ And I’ve not been riding the blinds – leaping and hanging on to passing trains!
One moment I remember (somewhere between Ponte de Lima and Rubiaes on the Camino Portugues), singing Howlin Wolf’s ‘Spoonful’. (Give me a spoonful of coffee…) After each of three repetitions of ‘that spoonful ‘ a cock crowed. He and I struck up a rhythm together. I tried a fourth time – but he’d lost interest. I carried on of course.
One other song, with no travelling connection at all, but when you sing it you bounce along, and that’s ‘Light my fire’. I love the original Doors version, but try singing it like Jose Feliciano, with a Latin, syncopated rhythm, and, well, not surprisingly, you’re almost dancing. So maybe don’t walk that way with too many other people around.