An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 12
You too may have seen YouTube footage of Your Song from David Garrett’s Classic Revolution tour, where at each event in turn he serenades a girl, selected by his manager from the audience, with Elton John’s famous love song. Did you like it? Or did you think it a cheesy stunt, thought up by an event manager eager to capitalize on David’s great appeal to women, the PR intention behind it blatantly obvious? I confess that I did. Nevertheless, David’s playful charm and joyful playing transform even this chaff to gold, and the audience loves it.
“Ich würde sterben vor Glück!” – “Yo lo hubiera abrazado y nunca lo hubiera soltado!” – “I’m not a teenager anymore, but I’m afraid I might have pissed my pants if he did this to me.” – “A mí me hace eso y mínimo lo abrazo, mínimo me muero, mínimo grito, mínimo lloro.” – “Oh my GOD! How lucky this girl and I’m so sorry that I was not in her place!” – “Qué envidia y de la buena. Ella seguramente se siente en el paraíso.” – “He is amazing. I would like to be in this girl’s place.” – “Ich würde ja vom Stuhl kippen.” – “Oh, you LUCKY LUCKY girl!!!!” – “Ich glaube ich wäre in Ohnmacht gefallen.” – “Me han roto el corazón.” – “I would give so much money to be her!” – “Waren bestimmt die schönsten 4 Minuten ihres Lebens. Ich würde dafür 10 Tode sterben!” – “She’s so lucky to be so near to him!” – “Qué bonito … que trauma a la vez, yo quieroooo.” – “Er fährt aber Charmegeschütze auf! Zauberhaft! Danke!” – “A mí me hace eso y te juro por mi madre santa que me puedo morir en paz.” – “He is awesome … And so sweet!!!!”
Numerous fans seem to regard this serenade as a celebration of romance, not as a concise portrayal of the contrived nature of all that is commonly regarded as romantic. Ah, Romance! Isn’t it so like women to set their hearts on settings in which there can be no truth?
Why do I find this routine disturbing when it delights so many? It must be because of the stark inequality written into this setup. On the one hand we have a masterly serenade by that adored star violinist, and on the other a random girl who wishes with all her heart that she were really his love and this act were genuine. But they both know it isn’t. To him, this knowledge is liberating and allows him to do his radiant best. To her, it is painful and restricting. While he is playing this beautiful love song to her, she is riveted to a chair in the glare of the spotlight. Thousands of eyes are glued to her face, enlarged on a huge screen behind her. No emotion remains hidden as she makes up her mind just how much of her inner life she is willing to share with the world. And all the while, David is playing his violin so joyfully, so flirty, so adorably – just as if Cupid himself were using her defenceless heart for target practice.
He is secure in his role, but she has no security, and no such role to cling to. In her life, this special moment is like a shooting star, here and gone in the blink of an eye. But for David and his team it is all part of the show, a routine repeated almost identically in Hamburg and Düsseldorf, in Lübeck and Nuremberg, in Magdeburg and Munich, in Rome and Vienna, in Verona, Milano, Moscow, Monterrey and Sao Paolo … And this is not a comprehensive list, you understand. This is just to give you some idea of the scope.
But what about the girl, picked from obscurity for her photogenic looks and now doing her best to keep her composure? How does she cope with the sudden, searing nearness of her idol? Or with the fact that he is, for a few unforgettable moments, actually looking at her as if she were the girl of his dreams? That she suddenly feels his arm about her, leans her head on his shoulder, receives a light kiss on the side of her face … In the words of a fan: “If he did that to me, I’d die.”
The attention of the audience is focused on the girl. Her attention is focused on him. His attention is necessarily focused on his performance, as ever with complete commitment to the music. David doesn’t miss a beat and he hits no wrong notes, for his heart is unaffected. Despite the fact that he makes it look so damn easy, he is actually working, and the girl is just a pretty prop. She knows from the start that none of her natural, heartfelt responses can have a place here, and so she spends the entire time fighting them. She may hide her feelings in Germany, look for ways to express them in Russia, or fight tears of emotion in Italy. She knows she is privileged. But isn’t it a teeny-tiny bit like the privilege of an early Christian tossed to the lions for the amusement of the crowd? The whole scenario seems cruel to me, though of course it has considerable entertainment value.
I imagine that the painful joy of this experience will live in her memory for years to come, after she has received that final, gallant peck on the cheek and been waved back into the audience. How many nights will she be sobbing into her pillow, trying to recapture the magic of those moments? How often will she dream of him and long for what she knows to be impossible? What other man can hope to make her heart beat quite like it did then? How does she resume her former life?
Maybe I am wrong to be concerned. Maybe these girls really are able to take it all as the bit of lighthearted fun it is meant to be. Maybe they really don’t mind having their feelings played with in this way. Maybe they smile to themselves as they fall asleep, thinking what a lucky, lucky girl they are. After all, everyone tells them so. Maybe they feel they have been given a precious gift, to be treasured to the end of their days. And maybe it won’t interfere with their life, with their future love life, at all. I hope they don’t mind …
“I would have thrown my arms around him and never let him go,” comments one fan in ardent Spanish. But what would happen then? Think about it! Perceived as a threat to the precious violin, if not to him, such an impulsive girl would be dragged off instantly by the security team, in disgrace. And spoiling his show is not the way to David’s heart. This much we may safely assume. Another fan points out that this part of David’s performance must be hurtful to his girlfriend and that she could not be happy about it. It is surely a moot point. After all, this is just a show, staged for wide appeal and entertainment, and any girlfriend of David’s would have to know and accept it.
Other comments have suggested that these girls are not randomly picked at all but are part of the Garrett Team, or personal friends of his manager. But, observing the girls’ faces, it does seem they were unprepared for what was about to hit them. As David asks their name, where they come from and if they attend his show for the first time, there is a slight awkwardness in the exchange that would be hard to pretend. And surely even David Garrett’s team could not be made up of that many beautiful young women, for – excepting Carla from Spain, who was picked twice and set off all that speculation about how random these volunteers really are – it is indeed a different girl every time. So watch the footage and make up your own mind.
By the way, David’s favourite seems to have been that classy young lady in Sao Paolo. She appears to be the only one about whom he made an indirect, appreciative comment after she had left the stage. But the one that touched me most is that sweet girl in Moscow who remained lively and natural in difficult circumstances. I hope she is recovering well … I hope they all are.