Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quite Possibly the Worst Street Musician in New York

While riding on the New York City subway it is not unusual to be entertained by various artists. There is a wide range of annoying musicians, everything from a man who accompanies a sound system blasting "New York, New York" with his trumpet, to a man wearing the tattered rags of the homeless who sings a rendition of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", to various pan-fluting Peruvians.

But as irritating as these musicians may be, at least they have some talent - or at least the ability to perform with tuned instruments. They are tolerable.

What is truly awful is when you get stuck in a car with a junkie playing a guitar. At first they can be hard to detect, especially at a distance. Is that a dirty-looking hipster, or an addict? If he gets close enough that you can see scabs, it's a much easier call to make.

On tonight's ride home my fellow straphangers and I were serenaded by what might be the worst street musician in the city.

If $0.31 makes a professional, then you're looking at a pro.

This guy enters the train and is immediately disruptive in the style of a panhandler. His unusually nasally and piercing voice announced that he was a street artist, that he was going to play a song, that donations and handouts were appreciated, etc. It was mildly amusing when he referred the subway car as a room, as if he were performing in a concert hall or were regaling some of his closest friends with a little song or two in an intimate setting.

His first chord was a mess. Mercifully he realized how out of tune he was and decided to tune up. It took him three stops to decide that he was tuned up enough to perform. You have to be really bad on the guitar to make it sound like a ukulele. He was playing six strings but somehow they sounded like four, each tuned to a slightly different version of the same note.

I would not wish drug addiction on anyone, but I sort of hope that he is a junkie and that when he hears the sound of his own guitar his drug-addled brain interprets it as beautiful music.


ettible said...

Wait, is he wearing headphones? Maybe he isn't a junkie at all but legitimately has no idea how he sounds because he's busy listening to Jimi.

Thin Crust - TX Chuck said...

Maybe you could ask him to come over to your apt & play rock band. Looks like he'd kick your ass in guitar hero!!