Sometimes one can stagnate with the safety of the known. With a regimen and a schedule. This was not one of those times. I decided to try and branch out in location a bit today (8.10.10), so I looked around at a few of the more outlying pitches that weren’t completely ruled out by a single glance at Google Maps. Now I started the day intending to rendezvous with Geoffrey at Museums Quartier. This failed but wandering about that “mall of museums” for an hour or so made me appreciate all the more what perfect locations are going to waste. Instead of live music they have some insipid American dance-pop issuing from speakers mounted on the poles supporting the covered sections of outdoor cafés.
So I thought: there are so many musicians, good musicians out there. There are tons of festivals and gatherings and outdoor and indoor restaurants and bars and things playing shitty music. Can’t something be figured out here? That’s when I remembered it’s not happiness and quality that runs the world now, but rather profit. So lets charge larger royalties for recordings, eh?
I then wandered off for a look at a few other spots – I forgot to mention that the happy little sheet of pitches also specifies times – usually a four hour window – and MariaHilfer wasn’t quite kosher yet, even with my sketchy reading of the location.
Inevitably, I ended up back at Barnibetengasse for another memorable day marked by a few interactions. I’m wondering if my retellings of specifics with song successes or people tipping are getting boring and a bit like more of the same old, so this time I’ll try to keep it more succint. I shall probably fail.
As soon as I set down my case a passing goth couple perked up with “Yay! Musik!” They marked my whole first pitch. From the get go I had requests, and they chose a great one, Radiohead’s Exit Music (For a Film). An impressive one what with the slow buildup and the large range both in volume and in pitch. I got quite a few tips to start. Now this couple left briefly to duck into the Comic shop nearby. The guy grew up in Seattle so language was not an issue at all. They passed back and tipped me handsomely, promising a return and asking if I’d like anything from the grocery store they were headed to. I’d forgotten my water – how perfect that they bought it for me, and with carbonation too (which is perfect for singing, i think).
When they returned they stood by my case, embracing and being cuddly and wonderful in an awkward counter-culture sort of way, dressed all in black with odd sleeves and glovelets and dyed hair. I tried to suggest they sit across the way and give requests that way as they were obstructing the path of least resistance to my case – which is a huge deal, people are lazy – but they demurred and told me they preferred to stand and “rock out” with me, swaying away. Eventually they realized the dilemma and stood against the opposite wall. Their presence rejuvenated me so much I sang them Hallelujah, full voice and all – and my voice felt great, finally. Later on I mentioned my mum had likened my singing to John Denver’s and they very nicely told me I was better. Um. what do you say to that, eh?
The best part of their presence was a sense of camraderie despite the largely unappreciative passersby. The girl started to get frustrated at them and pointed nicely at my case when someone passed for a short period, or tried to intervene kindly in German to no avail. And whenever anyone tipped they lit up or gave me thumbs up or clapped. Like before, having an audience signalled it was ok to sit for others and another couple sat with their child on the steps opposite for a while, also. Before the couple left they tipped me once more, asked if I needed a place to stay or some food “It’d be horrible if a musician had to sleep on the street” and offered their number. Simply wonderful
My second pitch was also met with a large batch of audiences. After I sang Bette Midler’s The Rose a nice man spoke hung back and spoke excitedly and gratefully in German – something about how wonderful it is that someone is singing this song about Jesus Christ’s love and how few people know what it means – that’s what I gathered anyways from cognates and stuff. His smile was a beautiful tip. I’d moved back to the archway for the acoustics as the Jewelers had closed and many of the passersby motioned up towards it to their companions as they passed. So I guess I can highlight architecture, too. Today I also debuted Ue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xin to great effect. Like Ue Wo Muite Arukou, european tourists love it since they think I’m singing in my native language or something. A gaggle of girls even gave me a “Xie Xie” after they passed, before erupting in a fit of blushing and giggling.
Now a short interlude on beggars in Wien. There are a lot of them and some of them seem to like hanging around buskers to ask for their money – parasitic, rather, but effective. I gave a couple euro cent to one kind one who’d tipped me the first day. And again to another who hung around for most of my second pitch for being a kind audience. Now this, and my experience with the fabulously dressed ultra-rich, have cemented the absurdity of the theory of trickle-down economics to me. Anyways the same guy who stole from me yesterday passed by but as he neared I shut my case and glared at him.
I particularly enjoy days when I sing nothing from the day before. So today was wonderful in that I hardly sang any songs I’d sung in a week. One of these songs was Falling Slowly – I hadn’t been up to it previously, but today my falsetto was really there. As I sang an Austrian girl, Maria, passed by and tipped me handsomely, telling me she loves this song. She appreciated the beauty of singing this song while busking (from a movie about a busker) and stuck around for a few requests. She loved what I did to Kids – better than the original she said – and passed me her email and her blog to obtain Jónsi’s version of MGMT’s Time to Pretend. So kind, so earnest. I sent her off with Such Great Heights.
Earnings: €25.72 + water, 2.2 hours
Song of the Day: Exit Music (For a Film) – Radiohead