A friend has been asking me to sing with her, to get out my guitar and we’ll go at some of our favorites, even perform at an open mic some week night. But it’s been an age since I used to do that sort of thing, and I have been living a different life, take up if not into the fiery heavens, at least into the minivan on grocery shopping errands, back home to empty the dishwasher, read with the kids on the couch, growl over one more sticky spill, help with poetry assignments at too late an hour, refinish woodwork. I hopefully set the guitar out for myself in prominent locations around the couch during seasonal house cleanings, but it was always eventually was subsumed by the lint under the couch.
Flash back to rose-colored memories of casual busking back in downtown Halifax, weekends and occasional week nights in front of downtown pubs and coffeeshops–places where people were passing through and in a weekend mood, but not obliged to listen. Only stopped if they wanted to–if they felt some sympathy with the music, or at least the effort. A kind of proto-blogging in that sense. I always started with Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.” Small groups of revelers or lone street winos would come up close to lend a voice to one song or another–the winos especially knew the old time gospel hymns I sometimes sang–Swing Low, Michael Row–from the services at the shelter and soup kitchens. Sometimes someone would linger where they thought was just out of my line of sight to listen, and we’d enjoy a fellowship of folk. Usually they would eventually sneak in and drop a coin, and I would steal a glance. One older professionally-dressed man dropped in a twenty dollar bill–a fortune in my eyes.
After the first few years on my own (with a few friends that would come along for company and stop out for coffee or a beer), I teamed up with Patricia and Kate and we sang below Barrington Street where the dark office high rises echod our harmonies off the empty glass towers.
The other day I took out the guitar, not because the feeling was there, the muse or inspiration or anything–that doesn’t work as much any more for me,and maybe it was hogwash anyway. As my old friend J.B. would say, when it gets hard, when it comes down to choice, that’s where the rubber hits the road. If I need to sing as part of just living up to some of the better, then I’d best try to get on with it.
And I’ll close with this song by Corin Raymond, which I heard on CBC the other day.