Life is full of coincidences, but sometimes they compound one another to the point that the answer to “What’s the chance of that happening?” is beyond the imagination. Such a compounding of experiences happened to me earlier this month in Italy.
It began innocently enough. It was Sunday, May 7, and my wife and I had just arrived in Florence. As I’d been doing since beginning our trip in Venice a few days before, I sent an email message to our family back in the U.S., telling them where we were. The subject of the message was “Firenze.”
Our son, Warren, an L.A. musician, wrote back, “Firenze?? Yes!!! One of Phish’s early songs is an instrumental, which ends on a 3-part harmony, in which they sing, “Wash Uffizi, drive me to Firenze” over and over again. It makes no sense. Anyway, that’s how I know of Firenze.” I didn’t give his message much further thought.
Later that evening, we asked the concierge at our hotel for a restaurant recommendation, and he gave us three names. We walked to the first one, but it was too busy, so we continued on to Buca Mario, located in the cellars of Palazzo Niccolini since 1886. Good food, BTW.
We were sitting there eating and drinking, when the couple at the next table was served their desert. I looked over and make some silly comment about how good it looked. So we start talking a bit and for some reason I can’t recall, I mention the email from Warren about Firenze, the song. Why I brought it up or even remembered it, I have no idea.
Quite casually, the guy we’re talking to said, “I wrote that song.”
Yup. The guy at the next table was Trey Anastasio, the brilliant guitarist formerly with Phish. And yes, he did indeed write the song. He told us how the song was inspired there in Florence when he was a street musician at age 19.
Trey and his wife, Sue, are super-nice folks, and it was fun to spend even just a few minutes comparing notes on raising kids in New York City, the difference between the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, etc. But none of us could quite get past the freakishness of how it came to be that we met there and that I just happened to mentioned his song. A seemingly random event, even by itself.
Of course, I quickly emailed Warren, who wrote back, “If you see him again, tell him ‘Stash’ is only one of the greatest songs ever.” We didn’t see Trey and Sue again. I think it would have been too much to handle.