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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

A gentle and generous spirit

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar, vocals)

'You've made my day' said DW as I entered his room, that's nice, I thought, I wish I had that effect on everybody! DW is an inquisitive man who loves to connect with people and discuss life's sprawling complexities. He's a lover of Art, Music, Anthropology and everything in between. Unfortunately, these days his limited mobility now makes it challenging for him to get out into the world and engage with these enriching interests first hand, so our offerings of music and conversation are vitally important to him.

I began to float around some dreamy warm chords, enjoying the softer sound of a nylon stringed Spanish guitar as opposed to the usual metallic steel strings. I then played a finger-style Brazilian piece entitled 'Canto De Imanja' which encapsulates everything I love about music from that part of the world, full of a kind of timeless beauty which at once sounds complex yet deeply melodious and folkloric. In Brazil they have a word, 'saudade' which has no real English language equivalent, however the words 'longing' and 'melancholy' come close.

Brazilian music seems full of saudade to me. DW and I discussed Afro-Brazilian music and he went on to describe a club you could visit in London back in the day where they would occasionally play music from that neck of the woods. He also described the vibrant rock 'n' roll scene just exploding in the 60's and how, if you were into Jazz, you were considered 'just a bit weird’. DW enjoyed hosting and as well as pointing me in the direction of the cookie jar, he also generously instructed me to borrow a James Joyce book of his. Thanks DW.

My plan was to take the book to see JG who I was hoping might read some Joyce in a kind of live collaborative poetry/music session, however, she was fast asleep so that'll be for next time.

Next door I found Ms. JC watching some earth-shatteringly loud TV programme, she chuckled 'I don't really know why I have it so loud, my hearing is fine’.

She was very easy to convince when I suggested that she might like to hear some live music instead. I played one of her favourites ‘Body and Soul’ which is a favourite of mine too and encouraged her to sing along with me which she did very nicely.

Towards the end of my visit, I went up to see our old friend Mr. JC who was feeling a bit under the weather with a cold. This prompted a spontaneous song about wanting to be free, free from snot, free from sore throats and free from the bed. JC instantly got onboard and was fully lost in the music, grinning and following my every word, finishing my lyrics with me.

This long and winding improvised song morphed into familiar territory when I asked JC to 'sing the next verse'

JC :'Standing on the highway, still searching for a lovely car, I couldn't afford it, no sir'

NAT : How much was the car?

JC :'They're 3,000 new, yeah, that's the going price yeah'

NAT : 'Could you make the price come down sir?'

JC :'He said no'

NAT :'Did you pay the money?

JC :'I tried to but I couldn't'

NAT :'So what did you do instead?.....I think I know what you did!'

JC :'I attempted to steal it'


As I left Bridgeside Lodge after this inspiring tale, I was informed that Resident JS had sadly passed away a few days before. JS was affectionately known to everybody at the Spitz as 'Percussion J' due to his passion and ability with rhythm which genuinely impressed every musician that played with him. He was a kind, gentle and generous spirit who I felt very lucky to have shared some very special moments with. Moments where, despite his anxieties and struggles, he danced and played so full of expression and freedom that I felt inspired. Everybody at The Spitz will miss him.

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