The desired thing for an artist is to move from the world of a daily routine to the dream world, that of “paradoxical” beauty.
Free from accounting calculations and humble comparisons. Many times such a passage requires a bridge.
Which may be from a simple branch, which a storm decided to remove from an old tree.
As a mere glance from the opposite bank of a river, which managed to reveal the true nature of an image.
The first Xulina Spathia (Ξύλινα Σπαθιά) album, “Xessaloniki” from 1993, gave a huge boost to the band itself and its creator, Pavlos Pavlidis.
It also marked an entire generation and furthered the Greek-speaking music scene.
But the songs in the album were not written in Greek, but in English, not even in Greece, but in a village outside Paris, by a river.
The village was called Meriel and opposite it was Auvers, where Vincent Willem Van Gogh spent the last years of his life.
Between the two villages, there was the “the river that flows”, or the River Oise.
The black ship
The year is 1992, autumn, and Pavlos Pavlidis has material for more than one album, has translated 11 track lyrics, and is struggling with one.
The song was called “Black Ship” (Το Νερό που Κυλάει), and although the rest were easily dressed with Greek lyrics, the 12th one was as if it didn’t want to be translated.
The return ticket has already been purchased, but a song is missing to complete the album.
Pavlos used to ride his bike as far as Auvers when he was tired in his personal studio and as a break between recordings.
“The Black Ship” was quite a hit for the musician, so he decided to do his favorite ride once again. It was dusk.
Thinking of his beloved painter, whose works decorated the whole village, in replicas donated by Yves Saint Laurent and almost begging him, to show him a solution.
The French-Algerian fashion designer had mounted metal plates throughout the village with copies of Van Gogh’s paintings, at the points where the painter had his palette.
Seated on a bench, just opposite the church painted by the Dutch painter.
And then almost metaphysically, Van Gogh replied, not in words, but in his works.
He basically reflected with his brushes what he was seeing. And what the Greek musician saw in front of him was … the water that was flowing.
Then in 5 minutes, the lyrics were written.
After the inspiration, he quickly ran home, where he had his own studio, to record the new track.
To his excitement, he took a huge branch, cut off by municipal officials, as they used to do this time each year.
Dragging it all over the village, he reached home and placed it next to his console.
In this way, he wanted to give symbolism to his “communication” with the great painter, but also to the solution of his lyric problem.
For him, it is one of his favorite stories, in terms of inspiration for a song.
For the first time, the song was played in the first concert of the Xulina Spathia at Mylos of Thessaloniki.