What would we do without our NYC Subway Buskers?
Yesterday I was on the Q Train at about Noon. My free entertainment began with a musical trio that blew my mind. A guitarist and 2 singers harmonized a song they wrote that gave me goosebumps. They were busking to earn money for studio fees. Do I believe them? Well, actually I do, but whether I believe them or not, their music moved me so deeply that I gave them not one, but TWO dollars. So did most people on my car.
One stop later the infamous subway gymnast/magician/dancers came on board. I heard some audible groans. These guys are hated by many but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. People say they’re dangerous–swinging around poles with their legs high in the air. Here is what I think. You know how major league baseball pitchers are so accurate that if a batter gets hit by a ball, it was probably intentional? That’s how accurate these guys are. They have perfect control over their bodies. Seriously, if anyone was to ever shoot an apple off of my head with an arrow, I would hope it would be one of these guys. They are flexible, strong, precise and supremely talented. Fortunately I still had a dollar left to give these guys but I don’t think my car coughed up as much cash as they deserved.
In my Q Train car were four out-of-towners from Israel. The women were blown away by the musicians and the men were blown away by the gymnasts. The four of them, like me, gave money to both. After the gymnast finished one of the tourists spoke loudly, “MAN this city has talent.” I could not have been more proud. Our talent is often underground and they are the stuff that makes our city great. The artists and all around creatives who make a buck by performing for us. I have always loved the combination of talent and guts and I think it is classically New York. Try not to disdain them. Try instead to enjoy what they have to offer. Pay them if you can. They are the stuff that makes this city great.
For the rest of the day I had the lyrics of one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs in my head:
“And I play if you have the money
or if you’re a friend to me
but the one man band
by the quick lunch stand
He was playing real good, for free.”
P.S. Though the MTA does not approve of musicians playing on the subway cars, they do support musicians who play in the underground subway stations and have an official program called Music Under New York.