on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2021 21 Nov

The remains of endless rain

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 10 Comments

(Im Januar 2016 reiste ich sieben Tage durch die Northwestern Highlands, nach wüsten Überschwemmungen, und, zufällig, in den Tagen nach dem Tode David Bowies. Es war eine abenteuerliche Reise. Ein Höhepunkt war eine Art „breaking and entering“ in ein unverschlossenes Haus an einer steilen Klippe, mit Blick Richtung Orkney Inseln. Ich entdeckte einen uralten Plattenspieler, und selten hatte ich so grosse Freude an Louis Armstrong und Whisky (set & setting!) – beides fand ich dort vor.  Am nächsten Tag hinterliess ich Geld für die nicht ganz legale Übernachtung, und einen freundlichen Brief an die Hauseigentümer. Sieben Tage mit vier grossartigen Alben im Land Rover-Cd-player, sowie unvergessliche Fiddelklänge und Begegnungen am Rande der Welt.)


In the late afternoon, yesterday, 2 days before the Celtic Connections will open up their curtains in the Tron Theatre and all over town. Saw Sam Lee and bis friends performing for a handful of people. BBC technicians, a folk academic running around, with a book of West Yorkshire song sheets, Sam Lee totally handsome. Field recordings, Sinti tunes entering Celtic vibes – and as if he could see future radio listeners, he was telling background stories like sitting at a campfire, interview excerpts running from old tape decks. His singing pure joy.



In the morning, leaving Glasgow for a while, the radio playing Bowie tunes, remembering the photo of a horse that nearly looked like an unicorn on the Isle of Barra. Will I be there tonight? I’m testing travel options: Thurso by train, Barra by Logan Air, or Edinburgh by bus. Acting by instinct. Kevin Barry’s BEATLEBONE A constant companion on airports, bus stations, and The Willow Tea House. John Lennon in 1978 on a journey to a desolate Irish island. The beaches will all look different today. I’ll breathe in the sounds of the sea and the cold-starred air.



Made the decision. 2 hours later. Going north. Destination known. The highways, the dead end streets, the cold dark cliffs on the edge of the North Western Highlands. Thurso, I’m coming. The remains of endless rain will give me a warm welcome. And it all means: no photos anymore, no diary on the blog, just slowly looking around without filters, blind habits, and my four-cd-collection being the soundtrack for this fucking road movie comedy. Maybe some creepy fiddle players will make their appearances (with woeful songs about lost sweathearts and lonesome moonlight in wooden cabins and local pubs). Always returning: „Darkstar“, „Lord of the Rings“ (from my teenage „evergreens“, Bo Hansson’s classic), „Astral Weeks“, and „Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) – the desert island collection for days and nights to come (embrace the most lonsome areas, the music your lifeguard). Go swimming! No way! The music is the second horizon, and from time to time it’ll keep my world in a nutshell.



He takes his seat on the foreign train. He thinks it pleasant to travel again. Mindful of the journey’s end. Many hours later, he is strollng among trees hearing voices. Birdsong. Birdsong in January. The name of town pubs always have familiar names, like they never escaped old R.L. Stevenson novels. „Admiral Dirge Crown Pub“. Will drink a whisky, will start to unfold a map of small paths that all lead to some outlook post. Is that the word, „outlook post“? Some faraway place. That is the word. But is it really „the remains of endless rain“, not „the remnants of endless rain“? Can loneliness be a friend? Start asking better questions. How can moments go so slow? This is a Land Rover. And this is the cd-player of the Land Rover. And this is the sound of eight speakers: „Back in Judy’s Jungle“. The sea hardens with new light. John Buchan was here.

This entry was posted on Sonntag, 21. November 2021 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Uwe Meilchen:

    Erinnert mich an „Netzkarte“ von Sten Nadolny, einem Buch das ich mit Gewinn in den 1980igern gelesen habe …

    … und waehrend Du da mit dem Zug unterwegs bist, neue Eindruecke in Dich aufnimmst, gehen rechts und links vom Bahndamm ueberall die Radiowecker an.

  2. ijb:

    Ach apropos, vielen Dank noch für die Post! Gute Reise.

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Jon Buchan hat den Agententhriller „Die 39 Stufen“ geschrieben, der teilweise in den schottischen Highlands spielt und einst von Hitchcock verfilmt wurde. Ob der gute Alfred allerdings wirklich vor Ort gefilmt hat?!

  4. Ian M:

    Great post! And my heart is in the Highlands, wherever I go.

    January 2016, I was in Warsaw, just another tourist. Not long after Bowie changed his cosmic address. I played Warszawa on my headphones everywhere I went From the Złote Tarasy to Plac Zamkowy, and the rest of the Stare Miasto. Obvious, but hey. Tourist mentality. Bowie’s 1977 Warszawa and the real 2016 Warsaw didn’t match, but didn’t fight either. It was emotional. I love Warsaw.

    Then on to Łódź. It’s not often you visit a city that elevates your soul. Łódź for me is the city that does that. No need for headphones. Music in the air. Poetry in every stick and every stone, every coffee shop, every tram. Every window.

    8 months later I was in the Highlands, in Inverness. Ok, so it’s not a metropolis like Warsaw or Łódź. But it’s the Highlands. My heart is in the Highlands. Even if Łódź has a good part of my soul.

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Hi, Ian,

    I very well remember our meeting with you and Lajla in Glasgow 2016, before we went separate ways…

    Lajla flying to the Outer Hebrides…

    … me getting lost in the Highlands 🥁🥁🥁

  6. Lajla:

    Zu Dritt in diesem edlen Restaurant, war das the Stravaign, das war sehr schön. Wir saßen da zusammen, alsob wir uns seit ewig kannten.
    Ich habe auch half of my soul an einen Ort verloren, an Montevideo. Die andere Hälfte muss ich offen halten für neue Adventures. Good luck, Ian.

  7. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Yes, sweet memories are made of this. Lajla, on the new Damon Albarn album, there is a song called „The Tower of Montevideo“. I even don‘t know where that is…

  8. Ian M:

    Hi Lajla – thanks. You too :)

    Micha – merci also, for the Russell Hoban link

  9. Lajla:

    Danke Michael. What a spooky song. Der Tower ist in Uruguay, genauer gesagt, er singt über den Turm vom Palast Salvo, der am Unabhängigkeitsplatz in Montevideo liegt. Beeindruckender Ort.

  10. Michael Engelbrecht:

    The old trio reunited😉🥁

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