Thats My Song

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January 16, 2009
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | 2 Comments »

Two Chinese people were playing the erhu and what looks like a Chinese version of a banjo on the platform when I arrived at the Union Square subway station. At the Music Under New York busking spot a thin guy was playing electric guitar with an effects pedal. He was playing an endless melody while undulating to the sound of his playing. Turns out his name is Wayne, he is 18 years old, he is from NJ and he has been playing at the spot for an hour. He seemed a bit shy. He just started coming to NY (“there’s nothing in NJ for musicians” he said). He places his empty guitar case BEHIND him, out of insecurity, he said. He gives a really good performance, though. He told me that he already recorded 36 tracks but he didn’t do anything with it yet. He preferes live performances to studio work. He works with a drummer from Long Island. I urged him to audition for Music Under New York and I told him of some good spots to play at.

Union Square subway station

A guy dressed in red, with white rabbit ears on his head, holding a ukulele case, waved ‘hello’. He looked like he was looking for a spot to play.

The blind, blond lady who walks with a blind cane walked by. “How is your arm?” I asked her. “Getting better, thank you” she answered. Her arm was still in a sling.

I played the theme of the ‘Titanic’ movie for the first time today, with a little trepidation. I felt that by playing this song I was selling out, but as I was playing a guy walking by with a girl said: “that’s my song!” so I decided it was a good thing I added this song to my repertoire. The reason why I learned to play this song is the fact that so many people in the subway have asked me if I could play it. I finally caved to popular demand :)

A lady said: “Who plays musical saw any more? I remember it from when I was a child in Jamaica”.

Albert, the messenger, said: “I heard you from over there and I came running”. He is kept so busy with deliveries that he can’t stay to chat these days. “Look I lost weight” he said, pointing at his stomach. It’s from running around making deliveries all day.

Photographer: © Aaron Porter

A boy actor named Peter, who interviewed me for the “Meet Me at the Corner” website (featuring virtual field trips for kids) came to say ‘hi’. He was with his mother, who was at that video shoot at the time, and with two of his sisters who had just been to an audition. The video Peter and I did together will be aired in March.

A guy told me he is from Michigan, where people still cut trees with two-men saws, and play them, too!

The teenager named Natalia came to say ‘hi’. She had her hair cut and looks older now.

A musical saw player from Wales came to talk with me. He told me that he now lives in Italy in a house which came with an olive grove. He plays saxophone with a 35 piece brass band who are now on tour in NY.

On my way home I saw a guy singing and playing acoustic guitar on the platform. At the Times Square station Ming Jun was playing the Bach/Gounod ‘Meditation’ followed by ‘The Swan’/Saint Saens on the cello. We have the same repertoire :)

Ming Jun

On the train the blind guy from Astoria who used to play the accordion but now plays a melodica on the trains was making his rounds.


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2 Responses to Thats My Song

  1. Kev Brown on January 19, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    If people want it, then it’s all good in my opinion!!! You sure are an eclectic bunch of people on that NY underground!

  2. rafael on February 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I’m writing because I’m interested in moving to nyc and earning a living playing in the subway. I’m a violinist, and play with an electric violin and pedals especially laying down loops and improvising. I’ve played in Barcelona, and Boston and understand what to expect, although every city is extremely different.
    Anyhow, I really enjoyed your music samples, and from what I can tell it seems that you’re a veteran on the circuit. If you could send me any tips or info on permits (possibly a web site with info) that would be great! I’ve heard nasty rumors about NYC subway.
    Thanks a bunch, and by the way in the future I’d love to take you up on some lessons. I’ve collected a couple of saws over the years with the intention of playing, but never got around to starting up.

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