Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never Been on their T.V.
So they passed his music by
— the prophet joni
he’s out again today.
its’ one of those sundays on the seawall. 70 degrees, blue skies, slight breeze. selena had a dozen red roses; the kite surfers posed; weekend warriors were out in force. the children screamed, the lovers cried and the poets dreamed. hmm. that could be a song about pie. and of course, there he was.
i’m running 4 miles (12:41) on the jesus etc. loop. it’s an odd day because the zantes finally died. i’m back in the piranhas and my legs are wondering what the hell. but miles is miles, and i settle into my stride. i’m listening to huffamoose, which refuses to step aside on spotify, till i see him up ahead. i kill the volume and slow down.
he’s playing in his usual spot. i see him maybe once or twice a week. two guitars, tiny amp, effect boxes, metal slide. i’ve always wondered about him. he doesn’t play what one would refer to in the classical sense as “music.” it’s sort of an endless distortion; a noise filtered through a fuzz box that comes out as a roar, blending in with the traffic and the gulls along the intersection of ocean and freeway. no tip jar, so i don’t think he’s in it for the money. and i’ve never seen anyone stop to listen. but i wonder. if this were nels cline and we were at carnegie hall, i’m sure he would get a standing ovation at the end of his 92-minute set. it’s all context. today he’s wearing a tuxedo shirt and LONG PANTS, so already he’s developing a more formal aura. i’ve tried to shoot him on the sly a million times, always failing. today, i just stopped in my tracks, pulled off my sunglasses, lined up a photo right in front of him. I shot and said hey, giving him the shy wave. he nodded and went back to the guitar. and that was that.
i always assume that things will be around forever. the guitar dude will always be playing at his spot. bob will always be at his gazebo. the hummingbird mural will never leave. but things always change. people come and go. do you dare become attached? is it worth it? do you embrace the now, knowing that it won’t last forever and sooner or later it will just be a bittersweet memory? i don’t know. one day i’ll pass by and he won’t be there. and then another day. and another. and i’ll realize he’s gone forever. i’ll wish i had stopped and listened for hours. maybe put up some kind of harmony. but i had to run. because running is what i do. but i’ll always slow down when i pass him. maybe my laces will need to be retied a little more often. maybe it’s worth hanging onto things, even though you know it won’t last forever. and if he ever plays carnegie hall, i’m there. running loops in the lobby.