Tuesday, July 28, 2009

'Trying to get it off his chest, he gets the words he needs tonight..'

I played at three of the four 116th Street stations today, and reckoned three strikeouts on one afternoon was enough.

The last few days underground have been frustrating, I'll be honest. Not totally because people aren't throwing any change my way - I'm still getting a kick out of playing. But it's more that on a few occasions recently when I've wanted to talk to the musicians I've encountered, the language barrier has just made it too difficult.

It's all very well for me to shoot some video and share that with you - and there have been a couple of players as well this past week who didn't want me to tape them - but what I really wanted to do was dig a little deeper than just "how long have you been playing on the Subway?" And since I can't speak Spanish or Chinese, sometimes even that gets misunderstood.

Maybe its just been the luck of the draw recently, and tomorrow I'll run into some home-grown talent that's happy to be filmed. Who knows?

To tell the truth, it's felt as frustrating as my recent job search efforts have been; and now, with only about three weeks left on this project, it's getting time to turn my attention back towards finding the next step, whatever that might be.

Anyway, I played at three stations on the northside of Central Park today - two of the 116th streets in Harlem and the third by Columbia University at Morningside Heights. It's hard to imagine greater contrast among stations that share a name.

At the 2/3 line station, there's two beautiful mosaics, 'Minton's Playhouse' and 'Movers and Shakers' by Vincent Smith, depicting famous Harlem figures (there's a similar set of mosaics at the 125th Street station near the Apollo Theater).

The lower panel here (in the songlist) shows Duke Ellington and Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson. There's also a portrait of WEB DuBois, and coincidentally, we'd driven right past his childhood homestead - now administered by Amherst - when we were in the Berkshires this past weekend.

Today's songlists:

116th on the 6 line:

People Get Ready - Curtis Mayfield
For My Wedding - Don Henley
Here Comes The Sun - Beatles
Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Drift Away - Dobie Gray
The Joker - Steve Miller

116th on the 2/3 line:

Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
People Get Ready - Curtis Mayfield
Secret Garden - Bruce Springsteen
Waiting For My Real Life To Begin - Colin Hay
For My Wedding - Don Henley
Sultans Of Swing - Dire Straits
Drift Away - Dobie Gray
Roxanne - Sting
Bad Moon Rising - John Fogerty
Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen

116th on the 1 line:

Here Comes The Sun - Beatles
Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Get Together - Jesse Colin Young
The White Hare - Seth Lakeman
Peace Love And Understanding - Elvis Costello
Sweet Life - Catie Curtis
Bad Karma - Warren Zevon

* The lyric title of tonight's post is maybe a bit obscure - it's from Ian Hunter's "Central Park And West". I loved Mott The Hoople when I was a kid and Ian Hunter is a great songwriter. But here's the stretch: in that song he namechecks Frank Carillo - a New York guitar player I hadn't heard of until the song. So here's Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros:

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