Monday, December 24, 2007

Music In the Subway Sounds good to me… or does it?

I had an appointment on the upper west side yesterday, (that’s code for therapy), and I got on the wrong subway. I’m not always paying attention, especially when I’m reading a book and thinking about what parent I can blame for what during my therapy session. 

I accidentally got on the E, instead of the C. It didn’t hit me until 53rd and Fifth Avenue, that if I didn’t get off at the next stop, I’d find myself in Queens. I don’t have anything against Queens, even though my ex-husband lives there, I just wasn’t in the mood for another borough.

It wasn’t the first time I got on the wrong train. And I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last. While I zigzagged through the subway labyrinthine, I came across a couple of subway musicians. 

I saw the first one at the Port Authority station where I boarded the E instead of the C. I see this man every time I’m in that subway station and yesterday it dawned on me that each time I see him, he’s singing the same song. To say that his repertoire is grossly limited is a gross understatement.

But it got me thinking about getting myself out there and performing. I’ve got a guitar and I could sing the only song that I know how to play, which is an original that I wrote called, Tom Cruise’s Braces. Sure it’s a bit dated (Tom had braces in 2002) and most people aren’t even aware of this little factoid but if the 42nd St. troubadour can sing his oldie (I believe it was from the Bob Marley collection), then why couldn’t I? 

I fantasized about the exposure that I would get. There must be a million people passing through the subways on any given day. If I could play and draw a crowd around me, it would certainly be a lot cooler than performing for five drunks at open mic night. Why not do a subway gig? I’ve tried everything else to get some desperately needed attention. 

I spend so much time in the subway getting lost, I might as well make a few bucks while I’m down there. My brother once suggested that I sing in the subway. Of course he also suggested that I bring my picture and resume to the ABC offices and, “Just tell them you want to be on television.”

Then again, not everyone wants to hear subway musicians. People are tired, hot, or frost bitten, cursing the subway delays and just want to get home without getting sneezed on by a homeless woman. Or they want to get to their office without being pushed onto the tracks by the rush hour crowds that slowly edge them over the yellow line. 

But most importantly, the majority of the crowd that would be forming around me wouldn’t be inebriated, like they are in the comedy clubs. (pause) Forget it. I’m sticking to above ground establishments. 

The second musician I encountered was at the B train at Rockefeller Station. I listened to the violinist and frankly I could’ve done a better job, and I’ve never even held a violin. All I’m saying is that a little practice goes a long way. Sure you’re playing on a smelly stage, competing with screeching trains in the bowels of New York City, but that’s no excuse for sounding like you just picked up the violin for the first time. It’s a competitive world, even below street level. 

The subway musician Susan Cagle was discovered at Penn Station, after years of practice, and she recently released an album on Sony BMG. She has a song called, Dear Oprah, which she got to sing to Oprah on Oprah. 

This got me thinking again. Maybe I should take my guitar out of its case and sing Tom Cruise’s Braces in the subway. Who knows, maybe I’ll get discovered and then be asked to serenade Tom, Katie and Suri at a party at the Church of Scientology Celebrity Center.