Editor’s Note: Matt the Electrician will take part in the Bluegrass Situation Takeover at The Long Road festival, to be held September 6-8 in Stanford Hall, Leicestershire, England.
In 2007 I was asked to travel to Japan and play a tour of a dozen shows or so. It was my first time there, and actually only my second time out of the US — the first being a short drive into Vancouver, BC a few years earlier. In the subsequent years between, I have toured Japan nearly every year, with a total of 11 trips to date. But at the time, I was a newbie to international traveling, and filled with equal parts wonder and terror. My tour manager/booker/promoter was a man named Shuichi Iwami. I had met Shu a few years before in Austin, at SXSW, and he told me then that he would bring me to Japan someday. He kept his promise.
Shuichi lives in the city of Kure, which is very close to Hiroshima. A few days into the tour, we took a train to Osaka for a gig. When we exited the train station, it was raining, we were carrying guitars and suitcases, and I followed as Shuichi led the way, Mapquest in hand. We walked for what felt like a long time. And in what felt like circles. Eventually, as we started to really get wet, Shu turned to me and said, “I think I am lost. I do not know Osaka very well.” He then directed me to take a seat on the front stoop of a brownstone with the luggage, and said, “Wait here, I will go find the hotel, and then come back and get you.”
Only as he was nearly a block away, did it occur to me, that perhaps this was it. Maybe I now lived in Japan. Bear in mind that while this was not pre-cell phone era, it was pre-smartphone, so while in Japan my little flip phone (it didn’t take pictures either) was mostly useless. I sat on that stoop wondering what my new life in Japan would bring. I watched girls riding by on bicycles while holding umbrellas.
After a while, Shu returned and we walked to the hotel. While he was checking us in, I decided to check my MySpace page on the computer in the lobby. There was a message from my songwriter/bass playing friend Tom Freund. He asked what I was doing, I responded, “I’m in Osaka in the rain.” He wrote me back immediately. “If you don’t write that song right now, then I will.” So I went immediately up to my room and wrote my song, “Osaka in the Rain”
Most importantly, I wrote the song before Tom could write it. I beat him. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that songwriting is a competition, and the scoring is based on speed.
Photo credit: Allison Narro
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