Tone-Deaf Singing Guy

At first, I, like many others at the bus stop, was kind of annoyed by TDSG. Shut UP, already. I’m trying to read my book and enjoy the glorious weather! But after a couple more ridiculously awful verses of “Dan Tucker,” my emotions began to shift.

As Tone-Deaf Singing Guy paused, cleared his throat, and then started back up with an absolutely brutal assassination of “Jesse James,” I started to think about how great it must be to be him at that moment. To be able to sit down on a bench at a crowded bus stop, pull out the lyrics to your favorite songs, and let all your enthusiasm and love for music burst right out of your mouth and into the air. To not even care what the people around you thought, but instead to be completely consumed by the moment and your joy and your intense affection for a set of songs you had probably known since you were a child.

Maybe TDSG thinks he’s a great singer. Maybe he knows he’s terrible. Maybe he’s just plain crazy. But haven’t you ever listened to your MP3 player in public and been suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to start dancing up the sidewalk, singing your heart out along to some rockin’ tune that just started running up the wires into your ears? I know I have. But my god, I’d never actually DO it. Because I know I’m bad. And everybody else would know I was bad too. And what could be worse than being stared at, or laughed at, or, heavens to Murgatroid!, being written about in somebody’s bus blog!

Yet, listen to this guy. He is literally one of the worst singers I’ve ever heard in my entire life. But despite that fact, when my bus finally pulls up and its doors open, I actually hesitate for a moment. There’s another bus in ten minutes — should I wait for it? Because I’m suddenly smitten with TDSG. I want to see what he’ll do next. I want to see how much longer he’ll be keeping this up. I want to keep watching him. I want to keep standing near him and be fully infected by his gumption and his enthusiasm and his happiness. This guy is having a great day, and combined with the weather, I can’t help but want to stay here in my sunshiny spot and bask in all the cosmic and karmic rays I suddenly feel coming at me from every direction.

And now I’m thinking: is this not exactly what music is supposed to be about? The sharing of passions and feelings and histories and affections and a lust for life and all the complexities that go along with it? After years of piano teachers and classical theory, as well as thousands of hours spent listening to every kind of sound I could get my hands on, I suddenly realize I’ve just been taught one of the most important music lessons of my life. By a big, unkempt guy sitting on a bench at a bus stop, letting his soul spill out into the streets like the puffy black gusts of exhaust that billow out the back of my bus as its doors close, I sit down, and it all becomes clear.

I’d love it if Tone-Deaf Singing Guy turned out to be a new regular. Maybe next time, he’ll take a few requests? But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to getting my own copy of the new Springsteen album. Every time I listen to it, I hope I’ll be reminded of yesterday — its sunshine, its breezes, its characters, and its epiphanies.

Eh, we should all be so lucky.