“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” – Bob Marley.
There are moments when I’m absolutely floored by subway musicians playing their hearts out for a few dollars from rushing commuters who are typically oblivious to any sounds other than the chimes of closing subway doors or the distinct rumblings of a train pulling into the station. The busy footsteps of fleeting passengers and the occasional rolling suitcase or bag adds to the sounds of the daily commute. But, on this Friday night, there are strings added to orchestra and a soothing melody that disrupts the normal chaos. I notice rushing commuters slow their step as they are drawn to two street musicians sliding bows across strings with the dexterity of a philharmonic string section. Their heads and bodies sway with sounds of Mozart and Bach and Beethoven and chorus of footsteps. (side note: I have no clue if I’m listening to Mozart, Bach or Beethoven – they are just my default characters when I think about classical music. I could be listening to a song by YoYo Ma or any other classical musician. All I know is…it’s beautiful).
Along with other weary commuters I stop and take in the sounds. I’ve seen these guys before. I’ve dropped a few dollars in the violin case before. I’ve wondered about their story. (We all have stories.) At first glance you wouldn’t peg them for classically trained musicians. I know…you can never judge a book by its cover, but still. The baggy jeans and over sized shirts probably hiding muscular arms sculpted from drags and pulls of bows over tight strings. With a closer inspection you will see worn hands and creases in skin that would seem to indicate hard lives. But still, I don’t know their story.
Today, I am grateful for the impromptu subway symphony these two musicians provide this lonely and tired commuter on his way home after a long week. I listen to two or three songs with a crowd of passengers growing. Like me, they realize that they actually weren’t in a rush to go nowhere. We applaud the street musicians for being masters at their craft. A few dollars and loose coins are their reward as we show appreciation for their passion and the gift of music they provide this night. Before I head out. I lift my camera and release the shutter wishing you could hear the beautiful sounds as I slowly walk to the train.