Foto Friday – Folk Music in Strasbourg – Simple Beauty

There is beauty everywhere…if you only look. This pic was taken near the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg, France. The area is filled with tourists and not surprisingly there were numerous hawkers working hard to get people to notice them.

And then there was this woman with her beaten guitar.

She didn’t call out. She didn’t beg people to come see her. She didn’t do anything to try to win people’s attention. She simply sat down in an out of the way corner of the square and sang her songs.

And it was so heart-wrenchingly beautiful that it stopped me in my tracks.

My time was limited. Like so many other tourists I had a long shopping list of souvenirs to buy and sights to see. I had a schedule to keep if I wanted to ‘see it all.’ Yet this woman’s music made me forget all that. It mesmerized me. It drew me in. So I just stopped… and listened.

At first, I had visions of discovering the next Natalie Merchant.

Perhaps I can be her agent and take her on a whirlwind tour around the world? We’ll get rich in the process!

It didn’t matter that I didn’t speak the language, or that I had no experience as a music rep, etc. because surely the greatness of this woman’s music would overcome all that if I could just help her get it out to the world. Focused on this goal, I began preparations to film what I knew would be a surefire viral video, already planning how I would publicize it and respond to all the appearance requests.

Thankfully that illusion quickly faded – driven away by the music itself.


Don’t think. Don’t Plan.

Just Listen. Just Be.

I can’t tell you how long I stayed in that spot listening to this vagabond singer. Other people came and went – most not even stopping long enough to catch a full song. Yet still, I stayed. Eventually, the woman began to pack up her guitar. I’d already thrown a few euro’s into her kitty earlier and as she got ready to leave I tossed in a bunch more. Yet it wasn’t enough. Even though I didn’t speak French, I wanted to make the singer understand how great she was. I wanted to explain how much her music had affected me. I wanted to encourage her to do more than just play for pennies in a forgotten corner of this mall for uncaring tourists. I wanted her to–

The singer’s eyes stopped me. She knew what I’d felt in the moments she played. She knew because…

Beauty has a way of sensing the eye of the beholder. 

And so it was that the singer eventually rode away on her bike, a smile on her face. It wasn’t money or fame she sought, simply the chance to contribute her verse to the great play of life — and what a beautiful verse it was.

It’s been nearly 3 years since I took this pic, yet still, the music plays in my mind. I smile, grateful that the singer sang her songs, grateful that I was there in that moment to hear them, grateful that I have the chance to tell you about them too.

If you ever find yourself in Strasbourg, visiting Notre Dame – look to the left, to that out of the way nook just off the main square, away from the crowds. Perhaps the singer is still there, still playing, waiting for you…

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