A sour end to busking in København (8.3.10). Amy and I weren’t able to meet up at Blågårdsgade as we’d planned and that probably sealed the failure of the pitch. I had to sing a little earlier than I preferred as my flight to Wien departed at 20:25.
It began well enough. The worker at the guitar store, Wood Sound, on Blågårdsgade recognized me from the street and gave me nice discount on my strings (which were still a stiff eighty crowns). But after just a few songs I noticed I was missing my capo. Some frantic minutes later I retrieved it from the shop – but those unhappy moments set the tone for the rest of the pitch. People were once again smiling, but without the magic of the light they were remarkably tight fisted. It’s at this earlier time that people drift in to bars and cafes, that they shop at the stores – I do better later probably because they have change from their transactions at these places. Many of the familiar workers hadn’t begun their shifts yet, too.
A group of young guys requested Fake Plastic Trees (why do they always request my shaky ones!) and I felt miserable being unable to oblige – so I (probably unwisely, for my voice) sang all three other Radiohead songs I knew to make myself feel a little better. They didn’t tip. One older woman in all black rooted around with no success and promised she’d return but I regrettably needed to leave before she did (if she indeed did).
I’ll spare most of the yucky feelings, but focus on the one beautiful experience. A young couple stopped mid conversation as they came in earshot while I was singing Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and stood directly opposite me, listening until I finished. I gave them my repertoire list and sang them Landslide while they decided. The man: bearded with a friendly Justin Vernon face beneath a cap, with a distinctly outdoorsy look to him, requested No One for after he finished shopping for shoes.
Right when they emerged I sang it for them. They stood before me, looking into each others eyes and being beautifully tender and adorable, giving soft kisses and hugs without veering into saccharin territory or excessive PDA. I felt so happy with myself to be able to contribute to that moment of theirs. They left and returned a few times, with a request each time, the last being Sunday Morning, gave me a small tip and thanked me profusely. When they left the final time, it was time for me to catch my flight.
Now the flight: that certainly made up for the rest of the day. I’ve taken many, many flights in my life but only recently have I begun to appreciate the absurd beauty they afford you. We really take it for granted. Next time you fly with nice weather, look outside. Keep looking outside. Don’t read a book, don’t type at your computer or watch an in-flight movie. Look closely. You’re thousands of meters up, there’s really a different terrain below you – a terrain that only exists moment to moment in the shifting of the clouds – whole mountains and valleys shifting like layers of sheer fabric…
It was sunset and I ran about the half empty plane excitedly, drinking in the fabulous colours and tapestries for the full ninety minute flight. We took off right as the light started to turn pink and orange and landed just after full night fall, when I saw my first star in months. A young Hungarian man from Romania and I bonded over our appreciation of the light – just the two of us in a plane full of jaded businesspersons shutting themselves away in screens and pages.
Would this not be a worthy life’s work? Chasing photographs of sunsets the world over in airplanes. Flying towards the sun, away from it, south, north, in each season, each hemisphere… With such a great reward that put Rothko, Albers, even Kandinsky to total insignificance. To think it happens each night, and how people ignore them on their flights to read captions at the Louvre.
Earnings: 27 DKK + strings discount, 1 hour
Song of the Day: Dreams – Fleetwood Mac