Buskers in the New York City subway system are a double-edged sword. Some of them are great, entertaining, can carry a tune, have a decent voice, etc. Others are just winos and bums screeching or panting out a song between stops. More often than not I think people pay them to STOP singing.
But what I like about good MTA performers is that they know how to involve the crowd. And the crowd, especially in New York, is always willing to help out.
Tonight while waiting for the E, I was standing within earshot of a lively guitarist who was energetically strumming classics like “My Girl” and “So In Love With You” and generously solicitng the bench of people aiting for the subway for support with the chorus and even parts of the verse. I found myself unable to contain a smile and softly joining in. What can make me feel this way? My girl. Talkin’ bout my girl.
A few months ago, when it was freezing outside, I was going somewhere on a Friday or Saturday and there was a guy beating a plastic bucket with some drumsticks, generating a head-nod-inducing rhythm and periodically stopping it all to shout: “Let‘s kick some boot-ay” drum drum drum “Let‘s kick some boot-ay. (Thump thump) Some boot-ay.”
A simple yet compelling melody accompanied by the deep bass of a plastic bucket reverberating off the tiled walls. New York subway stations, with their ubiquitous use of white tiles, often remind me of bathrooms. Needless to say, a crowd of clapping and stomping youths quickly deduced the lyrics and started joining in and suddenly the bathroom-like walls are echoing with choruses of “let‘s kick some boot-ay, (thump thump) some boot-ay”.
I had the urge to also join in, but my pacifist nature prevented me from endorsing such boot-ay abuse. That, and my belief that rap is the tool of the Devil. (Okay, I don’t believe that, but I’m sure that violent video games are to blame for teenage crime. Okay, maybe not. But if I had cool jumping-off-buildings and stealth-kill assassin capabilities like in Assassin’s Creed I would probably want to kill people too.)
Anyway. I’m at my stop and looking forward to my next busker experience.