People have shown their artistic talents on the streets before the concept of a street was even invented. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the first ‘real’ busker decided to lay his hat upside down on the sidewalk, but this post sheds some light on what might have happened.
Centuries ago, traders who sold their goods at markets and on the streets weren’t exactly familiar with marketing management and all that stuff companies use to let us buy expensive crap we don’t need. In the old days, the only way to lure clients was yelling and shouting. These yells became a personal trademark and people recognised them. Clients would go out and buy the sweet red roses, milk or African slaves the seller was yelling about.
A slightly romanticised video…
Seems not only buskers but also musicals have their roots in people who wake you up in the morning while yelling about the crap they sell.
Anyway, one of the villagers of Dublin’s fair city had a bright idea while listening to an girl called Molly Malone who sold cockles and mussels. She had a hit at the time with the song “Alive alive Oh, alive alive oh, selling cockles and mussels, alive alive oh”.
And the man thought: “What if I do the same thing, but just don’t sell anything? Surely there have to be people stupid enough to pay for it?”
And there were.
It was the first copyright violation of a song and after the girl died (apparently of some fever) the guy wrote some extra verses and the ultimate busker song started spreading like a wildfire and it is played by buskers till this day.
And the next generation is already into this busker classic, too!