Posts Tagged ‘buskers’

Everybody hates muzak or elevator music, so I came up with an alternative: why not trade this awful excuse for music for real live artists?

Wouldn’t it be great if you called a helpdesk, knowing you will have to “hold on for a few minutes” (helpdesk minutes are standardised at 500 seconds), that – instead of an eighties midi-version of a lame Elton John classic – there is a busker on the other side.

Even if he is artistically challenged, it would me more fun to listen to a busker screwing up “Smells like Teenspirit” than at an instrumental lounge version of it.
Hell, he could even ask you what else you’d like to hear him play.

The same goes for elevators. Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of hearing the one-finger-piano-version of a Disney-song, you would be welcomed by a busker (dressed like the matching Disney character) when the elevator doors open?

It might get crowded

It might get crowded

Even if the crappy soundsystem in the elevator of your office building doesn’t give off the same amount of smell, I think people would still prefer the busker.

In supermarkets, buskers could play songs and meanwhile announce the discount on tampons in isle 3. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were a regular costumer and the busker would play your favourite song when he sees you entering?

Train stations and subways would be a more friendly place if buskers would kill your time, and ease the pain, while you wait for your connection that’s overdue again.

Though sometimes it makes taking the subway even more scary

Though sometimes it makes taking the subway even more scary

And the best part is… as a listener you don’t even have to pay the busker! Well, you never HAVE to pay a busker, but now you don’t even have to feel guilty about it, because the companies will pay them.

Have you any idea what it costs a company to play licensed crappy music while you starve to death waiting on the phone, or hoping to reach the 52nd floor before you that song gets stuck in your head the next 2 weeks? Well, I don’t either, but it costs more than what a busker would gladly accept for the same task.

Mother and child beggars:

they seem harmless sitting crouched on the pavement with a sleeping baby in their arms. Shaking a worn hand and mumbling something in a foreign language. They usually have a cardboard sign with intentionally bad spelling (unlike this blog, which is spelled badly out of ignorance) about the country they are from and why they need money (usually not to go back). Every week they change the name of the country they’re supposed to come from, depending on which country is in the news because of a war, famine or natural disaster.

It's so sad I can't think of a funny caption. Well I can, but it wouldn't be politically correct.

Why are they your enemies? Well, first of all out of spite: they make more money than you doing nothing. And second because they make use of the same talent you have trained yourself in for years: making people feel sorry for you, so they give money. Yes, I know I said that there was only one thing more sad than a busker, and that’s a busker with a scrappy dog. But that wasn’t entirely true. It really breaks a hard to see a baby sucking it’s mom’s teet, when that mom is only 10 years older then the baby or when she’s in her twenties but looks 50. Make sure people on the street pass YOU first before they see the undynamic duo. They might feel more sorry for them than they do for you. And they do so rightly. These two will probably need the money even more than you do.


A word of advise: don’t busk in streets where prostitutes hunt for the cash of horny men whose wives think “oral” and “anal” are ways to take a medicine. They don’t want to be noticed while trying to walk as fast a they can without actually running. And they will pretend not to notice you. The only way to make money from guys like that is when you call them by name and say “Hi, Walter! What are you doing here?”, so they give you money to keep your mouth shut.

Would you notice a busker when walking through this street?

Would you notice a busker when walking through this street?

Prositutes aren’t really enemies, they just create an atmosphere on the street that keeps people from noticing you. And why would people notice you when there’s half-naked girls standing around you, asking if they want to have a good time?

Yesterday I and thousands of other people paid big money to … watch a busker perform on a stadium sized stage!
Yes it’s true, hordes of music lovers were glad to pay to watch one man with an acoustic guitar perform for an hour and a half.

Well, sure it was the notorious Pete(r) Doherty of Libertines and Babyshambles fame and not some busker they found on the street. But that made me start to think what does he have that buskers lack?

Talent of course (I’m a bit of a fan myself), as well as a singer, guitar player and songwriter. But how many times haven’t we seen and heard a lowlife busker with skills that could make him the next Bob Dylan?  And I know that according to the press nearly everyone in the vicinity of a guitar is the next Bob Dylan, but evenso…

Anyway, I believe I was able to pinpoint exactly what it was that made us stand in awe for Doherty: his private life. Or what the British excuse for objective newsgathering wants us to believe is his private life. A lot of people weren’t there to hear his songs, but just to see if he would make it to the stage.

-“I heard he’s in jail”
– “No, I read he’s gone cold turkey in a rehab center”
– “You’re full of shit… I just got texted that he doesn’t want to leave his hotel room before someone scores him some crack.”
– “That’s a lot of bull, man! He fell unconsious after painting a canvas with his own blood.”

That’s the kind of conversation that was going on around me.

When he DID arrive (on time even) and he seemed to be in the best shape you can imagine someone like Pete Doherty to be in, there was even an air of disappointment going around.

– “Now I can’t tell my friends he was too cool to show up!”
– “He doesn’t seem to be high either!”
– “Damn… his voice and guitar playing are more than tolerable.”
– “Yeah, what a total rip off. He’s not even drunk.”
– “He might still get arrested for possession.”
– “Yeah you’re right. Let’s watch the rest of the show. He might still do something totally junky.”
– “How does this camera of my cell phone work? Yes, I’m ready: ‘Tell us to fuck off Pete!'”

The Peter Doherty the audience wished to see

The Peter Doherty the audience wished to see

But he didn’t. He loved us and we started to love him as a real artist, not as the drug icon we always read about.

The clean(?) and well-mannered Pete the audience got

The clean(?) and well-mannered Pete the audience got

So what’s the point of this post?

Well, buskers can learn something from this. Build an image: take drugs, date models, get kicked out of airplanes, bars and tv-shows, get arrested, punch photographers in the face, diss other artists, create unconventional art with bodily fluids, …

Maybe most of you already did all this (except the model dating of course), but make a reputation for yourself, even if it is totally fake. And when people come to see that weird asshole they heard some much bad things about, grab there attention, show them what you’re really made of and play a great show!

It works for Pete.

It’s a common mistake to only play songs that are busker-type acoustic recordings in their original forms. Nearly every busker has songs of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and the likes memorized. “Can’t go wrong there.”, they think.

Well, indeed you can’t if you want to be stuck in the sixties and seventies. But the avarage age of people on a shopping spree that populate the streets where you busk is 17. And as we all know: the youth doesn’t know the classics and they sure won’t pay you for playing them.

Play something they know and you might get their attention while they’re screaming to a friend in a cell phone about that fashionable top they bought at discount price.

Contrary to popular busker believe, it is possible to play contemporary songs that aren’t strum on an acoustic guitar. Don’t wait for an acoustic guitar ballad to hit the popcharts before adding the 21st century to your busking repertoire. In a world of hiphop, R&B and poppy leftovers of talent shows, there isn’t a lot of guitar going on anyway.

Instead: choose one of those crappy songs and buskerize it! You probably know all the songs of hyped starlets are actually written by crafty songwriters on the 42nd floor of a big office building.

Sometimes, when you remove all the beats and bleeps, you will find that underneath that loathsome popcrap there lies a real gem of a song.

A few examples…

The cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” by Mat Weddle (Obadiah parker) was a worldwide hype on YouTube.

And never thought I’d say it but I really like Britney Spears’ “Hit me baby one more time” when played thus…

The Black Eyed Peas can keep shitting out stuff like “I got a feeling”, as long as there are people with acoustic guitars, there will be buskerized versions that beat the original!

So… as great as Bob, Leonard and Neil may be, buskers got to wake up and smell the 21ste century by making today’s pop songs bareable!

Well, only 2 days ago I posted a “call to arms” directed at buskerettes (female buskers) and already these ladies found the way to my mailbox.

A short recap of the post they answered: buskers will be the only ones surviving a nuclear holocaust or mass extinction event, thanks to the hard-knock life they are used to live. Good news for the human race, were it not for the fact that there are too few female buskers around.

This is the kind of busker we'd like to repopulate the world with

This is the kind of busker we'd like to repopulate the world with

Some of the buskerettes already teamed-up with their male counterparts, awaiting 2012 and killing time amusing themselves and the doomed non-buskers with music.

1 buskerette per 2 buskers should be the minimal ratio

1 buskerette per 2 buskers should be the minimal ratio

The youth is the future: this counts triple for underage buskerettes!

Since the guitar case is closed an laying behind her, this isn't child labour.

Since the guitar case is closed an laying behind her, this isn't child labour.

Looking at these pictures, we can only be glad there is still hope for the human race!
Better yet, in the event of global annihilation, the offspring of the surviving buskerettes will be better looking and more talented than the avarage human being alive today…

See you in 2012, girls!