Jacob Haller (jwgh) wrote,
Jacob Haller

busking report

I decided to go out and do some guitar playing on the street tonight. This is mainly because Chris and I are playing at Nick-a-Nees on Thursday for the first time in almost a month, and Chris wants to broach the idea of having another New Year's Eve show soon, and so we want to have as many people come to the show as possible. So I headed over to Thayer Street, put out my guitar case, tacked a poster for Thursday's show to it, threw a couple of dollars in, and started playing.

I ended up playing maybe an hour and a half, during which time I was largely ignored -- I think this was by far my least successful stab at busking yet. People largely ignored me, but at one point, as I was singing 'Tear My Stillhouse Down', I noticed a guy in maybe his sixties or so eyeing me, and he wandered over between verses and said, "All your songs are sad. Is that Appalachian music?" "Well," I said, "this song is by Gillian Welch, who's from California, but she's listened to a lot of that kind of music." "That's what it sounds like," he said. "It's sad. People around here don't like that kind of music." I smiled and he wandered a little ways down the road, towards the guy who was selling popcorn.

I played some more songs and then had a little trouble thinking of what to do next, so there was a pause in the music. The same guy was still hanging out by the popcorn vendor, who at this point was breaking down his rig. "You play a lot of sad songs," he said to me, and the vendor nodded, smiled, and said, "Yes, very sad." The guy came over to me again and said, "There are other musicians who play around here. Have you seen them?" I nodded. "They play happy music, more upbeat, like jazz," he said. "The people here like that kind of music. Or, you know, the young people, they like that crazy rock stuff." "Uh-huh," I said. "You know, they dress up in those weird clothes -- they call it 'goth', you know? A lot of that stuff is from the Devil. You know, the original goths were Pagans. Do you believe in the Devil?" "Um, no, I'm not really religious," I said. "Well, you don't have to be religious -- you can not be religious and still believe, you might still know that the devil exists," he said. I pondered this distinction for a moment, and I said, "Well, then, I guess I don't believe in the Devil."

This didn't bother him, fortunately. "Where do you think all the trouble in the world came from? All the bad things that happen? We all come from Adam and Eve, by the way -- we're not descended from monkeys, we're from real people. They were in the garden, and then the snake ... you know how if someone has bad parents it causes trouble for them? It's the same thing, we come from Adam and Eve and that's why there's trouble. A lot of the things in the Bible are true.

He continued. "You must have some Christians in your family, if you go back. Grandparents, great-grandparents ..." "Sure, my mother's family is all Catholic," I said. "But the next generation always wants to do something different," he said, "You look at all the kids around here." There was a pause, and I said, "Yeah, but what are you gonna do?" "Yeah, it's fine as long as you don't take it too far," he said, and then he looked a little sad. "Some of them take it too far. You look at these kids ... a lot of them are all loaded up from drugs." "Yes, you don't want to take it too far," I agreed.

There might have been more, but that's about all I remember. He wandered off to talk to the popcorn salesman again, and I resisted the urge to play 'You're the Tea in My Teacup' and instead played the least sad song I could think of off the top of my head, which was 'C-H-I-C-K-E-N'.
Tags: busking, empire stories, solo

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