Patras, Greece September 1996
Delirium tremors is one of the most horrific things a human being can experience. After a night of heavy drinking the body can sometimes revolt. The muscles that laid dormant begin to twitch and crave for the relaxant given to them the night before.
It was in a dingy hotel in Patras that I encountered my worst case of what are colloquially known as the Vasbert Drakes. The Shakes.
I’m what some call a binge drinking alcoholic. I can go weeks, months and after hearing this song, seven years without having a drink.
The potency of the video clip scared me into sobriety when I’d just turned 27. I was in Greece for a holiday in 1996 trying to overcome my demons, when I first heard and saw this clip after a night of Heineken havoc with some locals in Patras.
I woke up around 11.00am the next morning and I was buzzing. The world was a pleasant place, filled with good cheer and a happy predilection. Around 2.30pm, after three gyros for lunch, I retreated to my hotel room for a siesta. I didn’t foresee the somatic tsunami that was about to overwhelm my body.
The twitches started to turn into malevolent seizures. I’d experienced a number of hangovers, but none like this. It was as if my spirit no longer wanted to remain in my body. Faces of fear, tortured, twisted filled my mind. I thought the room was full of bugs, cockroaches, mice, spiders. Years later I found that these were classic symptoms of delirium tremors.
In a desperate attempt to take my mind off my bodily reactions, I turn on the television, to a Greek music TV station. I connected with the video clip immediately. It may be about heroin, but my hangover resonated with the protagonist’s reactions. At the beginning of the clip two friends are in a playful state of dream-like joy and at 2 minutes 57 the image comes up again. Finally, the victim’s friend and girlfriend identify the corpse and the note is found, with the lyrics detailing his state of desperation.
I watched this video clip as my body was protesting, revolting against the poison that overwhelmed it the night before. I thought, ‘This is it’ and that I wasn’t going to survive the holiday. It was like spending 12 hours on a plane with constant turbulence. At around 2.am the following morning the tremors began to ease and I finally got a few hours of unquiet sleep . I checked out first thing in the morning, filled with a mixture of fear and relief. I went to church, lit a candle and prayed as deeply as I could for some divine assistance to overcome this addiction.
Sfakianakis voice captures the sorrow, the regret and the horror of coming down and finally letting go of the soul imprisoned in a human thresher. He also captures the pain of those left behind to deal with it. The song is based on a true story and written by Sfakianakis in memory of a friend.
© Phil Dimitriadis
Post-script: In May 2016 wrote about alcoholism, sobriety, Australian football and one of his favourite bands, Weddings Parties Anything. Visit our partner site The Footy Almanac.
Soma Mou by Notis Sfakianakis
Lyrics translated by Phil Dimitriadis
Body, tonight you won again.
You sunk my heart once more.
The burning darkness,
Inside me, solitude.
Body, you poor thing,
I can’t control you anymore.
Body of mine,
body of mine made of clay.
My mind is your slave.
Body, tonight you rebelled.
You left me soulless.
The isolation will follow,
wherever you may go.
Body, you will sink,
on every road you walk on.
Body of mine made of clay,
I can’t control you anymore.