retiro. love. music.

I decided to wake up early this morning (10 am is early for me) and go walk around Madrid.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and not too incredibly hot.  I had no plans, no camera, and no watch.  I just wanted to go and get lost in the streets.

I took the metro to the Atocha station, this is the closest station near Paseo del Prado, the street where the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Reina Sofia Museum can all be found.  It is a beautiful area that I always enjoy walking around because it is full of history, breathtaking buildings, and it always makes me appreciate being in Madrid.  I walked past Parque del Retiro and continued for a few hours, getting further and further away from the tourists into mainly local territory walking in and out of shops as I made my way to Velazquez then went around Serrano to make my way back to Retiro to rest in the shade and read my book for a while.

Tired from walking, I didn’t venture far into Retiro to post up, but i was picky about my spot.  The grass was wet and slightly muddy so I started looking for a bench in a relatively quiet area in the shade.  It was about 1:30 ( I had checked the clock of a building) so it was getting warmer.  I found a nice shady bench and started to sit down, buuuut then…a child started screaming- hell no.

I kept walking and decided on a bench that was shaded and there were no kids in sight.  There was also a man playing an acoustic guitar two benches away- ah perfect!  I sprawled out on the bench and started to read the book that my friend Christianna just lent to me, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.   As I read, I found myself listening more to the man who was singing and strumming his guitar.  I soon realized that he was actually quite good, and I found myself enjoying the sound he was making more than my book.  I put my book down and just lied there with my eyes closed.  His blues/bluegrass acoustic style was captivating.  The closer I listened I noticed he was singing in English.  Interesting, I thought- I wonder where he is from.

He started to play “Hello, Goodbye.”  I started to smile.  He played it wonderfully, and nailed every lyric on the nose.  I continued to lie there, completely content with the weather, my day, and mostly the live, beautiful music that I was hearing.  Then I heard start “All the Way” most famously noted by Sinatra.  After a moment he stopped, and I could hear him talking with some people.  I sat up to look and to my surprise there was a bride and groom and their three photographers walking up, he had started the song when he saw them.  The photographers immediately took advantage of the situation and were asking him to pose in photos with them.  It was very sweet and so candid.  The man started playing the song again, and the couple started to dance, (the photographers directed them too).  They danced slightly awkwardly, but rightfully so, becasue like myself, others nearby were watching them.

The man then went back to the Beatles and started to play “Something.”

I LOVE that song.  As he played I started to fall into a deep state of happiness.  Sunshine, music, GOOD music, and it all happened so unexpectedly.   I started to cry.  As I sat and watched the man play one of my favorite songs, I was overwhelmed with what a great day I was having and how beautiful the moment was to me.

I felt so cheesy crying at such a moment, but I just could not help it.  It was just such a wonderful moment; the combination of my pleasant day with no plans, the unexpected ‘show’ while relaxing in the park and the intimate performance of one of my favorite songs.  It moved me.

The couple left, and the man just kept on with his playing.  I started to really wonder about the man; what his story was… why he was in Spain, if he came to Retiro often.  I wanted to let him know how much I appreciated listening to him.  I wanted him to know that he just made my day, one that I will remember forever.  I felt like I appreciated his entertainment and generosity to the couple more than they had, and I wanted him to know.  I think all artists want to know when they have touched someone with their craft in such a strong way.  I decided to go home for lunch, so I gathered my things and started off.

I decided not to say anything to the man.  I walked past and smiled.  I didn’t want to interrupt his singing.  I also didn’t want to ruin the mystery.

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